SEEN FROM WEST SEATTLE: The cruise ship that’s not cruising

In today’s bright sunlight, the cruise ship anchored off Manchester – Ovation of the Seas – was particularly eye-catching from west-facing West Seattle. As we’ve reported previously, after concluding the Alaska cruise season, it was supposed to head to the Southern Hemisphere for an Australia cruise season, but that was canceled due to COVID-related travel restrictions. So it’s been hanging around in Washington waters. Port of Seattle spokesperson Peter McGraw sent an update at week’s end:

Royal Caribbean International’s the Ovation of Seas will continue to spend more time around Puget Sound in the coming winter months under minimal operations. Currently, she is anchored in Yukon Harbor in Kitsap County, where the U.S. Coast Guard determines the berthing locations. She’ll spend approximately one week at anchor before heading out to coastal and international waters. She’ll then return to Pier 66 for the day on Friday, Nov. 12 for provisioning, bunkering, and crew movements. Then it’s back to Yukon Harbor and other movements out to sea before coming back to Pier 66 on Monday, Dec. 13 for more operations during the day. While in our waters, Ovation of the Seas utilizes marine gas oil (MGO), a low-sulfur fuel. In between these locations, it will be very possible to continue to see the Ovation of the Seas throughout our area.

For those who have wondered about discharges, Puget Sound is a no-discharge zone for sewage, even treated; here are rules for other types of wastewater.

It’s more common to see cargo ships at anchor where the cruise ship is now; we reported on the ongoing cargo backup earlier this week.

33 Replies to "SEEN FROM WEST SEATTLE: The cruise ship that's not cruising"

  • Question Authority October 30, 2021 (6:54 pm)

    Somewhat mysterious that these occasional trips back to port for provisions etc. can’t be supplied by smaller support craft.   If that ship can go to sea for weeks with thousands of souls onboard what does a skeleton crew need a port of call for?  

    • Eddie October 30, 2021 (7:46 pm)

      Guessing,  but it might include emptying it’s sewage and waste water holding tanks into shoreline facilities.

    • Zoomy October 31, 2021 (10:49 am)

      What’s mysterious about it? Provisions are needed and waste disposed of. Are you going to pay for all of these so-called support craft? 

      • Question Authority October 31, 2021 (9:27 pm)

        Those holding tanks serve an entire multi thousand tourist contingent so I doubt a skeleton crew is filling them.  Tugboats dragging that ship around don’t work for free either so a small service craft seems it would meet the need for fresh lettuce and mail call.

        • Robert in PT November 1, 2021 (1:31 am)

          Ovation of the Seas does not require “tug assist.”  Azipods  and bow thrusters enable her pin-point navigation. Moreover, the vessel cannot be moved without a Puget Sound Pilot aboard, which explains her limited movement around the Sound.

    • skeeter November 1, 2021 (9:04 am)

      Umm.  Have you ever tried to move pallets of food, cargo, trash,  supplies, etc from one floating ship to another floating ship?  These ships were designed to be loaded an unloaded using forklifts and ramps from an adjacent pier/dock.  

  • Lucy October 30, 2021 (7:01 pm)

    So sad to see the cruise industry suffering.  So many jobs.  And so much benefit to our economy. Hopefully things will be better next year. 

    • Robert in PT November 1, 2021 (1:36 am)

      Quite true Lucy.  S.E. Alaska took a devilish pounding while the pandemic shut the season down. Tour boat operators, sight-seeing operators, gift shops, eateries, you name it, all suffered tremendously without the anticipated influx of tourist dollars.  Never mentioned in “the news.”

  • flimflam October 30, 2021 (8:11 pm)

    I must be missing something – why wouldn’t this ship have a “home port” and why does it have to spend months here, COVID in Australia or not?

    • Elton October 30, 2021 (9:51 pm)

      I could be wrong, but I don’t think there is a Home Port per se. It sounds like this ship is meant to be cruising year round and it was supposed to go to Australia but since it cannot take passengers there it would burn the fuel to go to Australia for no good reason only to come back here for Alaska cruises next season. Just my speculation. I don’t know where it was stored during the pandemic 

      • Robert in PT November 1, 2021 (1:24 am)

        Ovation of the Seas sails from Seattle during the northern summer season and re-positions to Sydney during the southern summer season. Hence, Seattle and Sydney are listed on marine documents as “home ports” for corresponding seasonal ventures.She was to have sailed on the 28th out of Sydney. Now she is a “Flying Dutchman,” a legendary ghost ship which was said to never be able to make port, doomed to sail the oceans forever.

      • Robert in PT November 1, 2021 (1:48 am)

        Well Elton, took a chance on this one, and lost.  Sydney and Seattle are listed on numerous maritime documents as the summer and winter home ports for the Ovation of the Seas. Royal Caribbean had three ships – Ovation of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas – sitting off Wollongong’s Port Kembla, in “hot storage.”

  • Rb October 30, 2021 (8:21 pm)

    I wish they had mini cruises to California from Seattle. I bet they would be very popular in the winter months. Alaska is great but it’s not for everyone.

    • Robert in PT November 1, 2021 (1:14 am)

      Take I-5. It is much more exhilarating!

  • WS res October 31, 2021 (12:12 am)

    WSB, do you know if anyone has asked if the crew aboard is quarantining because of at least one positive COVID infection? This is what I heard from someone on Alki a few days ago. Maybe that would track?

  • Gene Degenerg October 31, 2021 (1:13 am)

    I bet people would love to cruise back and forth from here to Seattle 

  • Jan w October 31, 2021 (3:38 am)

    In most cases, when these ships come in to port, they pay a steep fee for their time there. So,  ships will anchor off the coast (limiting fuel usage) and only come in for necessary services (refuel, water, sewage, etc.) and to change over crew as many of the crew contracts will expire during this period.  During the pandemic, many cruise ships anchored off the Bahamas coast and came into ports in South Florida for short stays.  I suspect that Royal Caribbean is either trying to find alternative itineraries (which takes a great deal of planning and logistics) or has committed to leaving the ship in the area in advance of the 2022 Alaska cruise season.  

  • Flo B October 31, 2021 (7:13 am)

    Flimflam. As the hope/intention is for cruise ships to be cruising year round they really don’t have a home port. The closest thing to that is wherever their owners are based could be considered “home”.

  • JJ October 31, 2021 (8:28 am)

    Where is it licensed? I’m just guessing it’s foreign flag… to avoid taxes and labor laws. Surely that country has a port? Not that I mind it here, and I feel for that crew stuck in there. I just wonder where they pay taxes. And whose minimum wage they are paying.

  • Craig October 31, 2021 (9:26 am)

    Love the idea of a mini cruise from Seattle to Cali, or even a few nights in WA islands for those of us that can’t afford time or money to go on a longer cruise. Heck I’d even think about staying on a cruise ship anchored where she is now if the rates were cheap. 

  • Flo B October 31, 2021 (10:17 am)

    JJ. Used to be ships were registered in Liberia. Now most use Majuro or Valetta.  Strictly “flags of convenience” as their rules and regulations are basically nothing-meaning cheap.

  • BJ October 31, 2021 (10:25 am)

    Let the cruise ship fill in on the most needed ferry routes. Haha🤣

  • Lawrence Gaughan October 31, 2021 (10:42 am)

    Capt, Permission to come aboard. I’ve always wanted to tour a cruise ship.

    • Michelle Laughlin October 31, 2021 (12:03 pm)

      I’d love to spend a few nights on it, I’ve never been on a cruise ship. Maybe they should rent out some rooms and have a party 🥳😁

  • Kathleen October 31, 2021 (12:22 pm)

    According to the Jones Act, any foreign flagged ship sailing in US waters has to stop at one foreign port.  Hence, Seattle to California has to stop either in Mexico or Canada.  That’s why they can’t do a quickie run.  Takes a couple extra days to go out of their way.  Only NCL has a ship flagged in the US and it only is in Hawaii.

    • Mac October 31, 2021 (1:10 pm)

      My understanding as it applies to foreign flagged cruise ships:
      The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (Jones Act) requires that passengers embark and disembark at the same port.
      The Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886 (PVSA) requires that there be a foreign port on the itinerary.
      The PVSA requirement was suspended over the summer for Alaska cruises due to not being able to stop in Canada due to COVID.

      • Ex-Westwood Resident October 31, 2021 (9:20 pm)

        requires that passengers embark and disembark at the same port.”

        Not true. I am looking at a cruise that leaves Miami, goes through the Panama Canal and ends in Seattle in  April 2023, through Carnival Cruise Lines. They are flagged in Panama, Bahamas and Malta.

        • Northerner October 31, 2021 (10:41 pm)

          There is an exception if a cruise stops in a “distant foreign port”. Mexico, Caribbean and Canada do not qualify, but South America is considered distant. Many Panama canal cruises will make a stop in south america to allow an east coast to west coast cruise. This is why you will often see one way cruises to South america or Europe. However, one way cruises to Alaska will typically leave from Vancouver, BC.

      • Robert in PT November 1, 2021 (1:11 am)

        Jones Act was suspended months ago. Victoria is now looking at NO cruise ships in the near future.

  • Mark Petry November 1, 2021 (7:30 am)

    ship is registered Nassau, Bahamas.  These things are beyond the point of diminishing returns.

  • For orca mammas November 1, 2021 (8:44 am)

    Meanwhile, 3 resident orca mammas are trying to help their endangered species survive by carrying their calves to term and birth, amidst all the noise, pollution, and sea disruption of these huge ships, and others, in their home waters.

    I’m sorry orca mammas, be strong, we’ll keep fighting.

  • NW Mama November 1, 2021 (7:15 pm)

    Cruise industry will never be what it was.   Time for them to be innovative.  May I suggest we charter them for a homeless “encampment”?  Functioning toilets, food, shelter and an address!  

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