Majesty of the Seas forced out of Gulfport, Mississippi

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas had been waiting out the coronavirus shutdown in the Port of Gulfport, Mississippi, but the ship has been instructed to depart on Friday.

Fox10 reports the Port of Gulfport has ordered all cruise ships docked there to leave after Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves’ ordered a shelter-in-place order that will go in effect at 5 p.m. on Friday and last until 8 a.m. on April 20. 

Majesty of the Seas is one of four cruise ships docked in Gulfport, along with Carnival Glory, Carnival Valor, and Carnival Freedom.

Until the threat of Coronavirus is gone, the Port of Gulfport will continue to support the efforts in limiting the spread of the virus while also maintaining essential operations, the news release states. 

Will there be cruises to Alaska in 2020?

By: Matt Hochberg

Summer cruises to Alaska are one of the highlights of Royal Caribbean's offerings, but the 2020 Alaska cruise season seems in doubt with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

If you have a cruise booked for Alaska this year, here is a look at all the information we know that impacts sailings to The Last Frontier.

No cruises until at least July

Royal Caribbean has already taken a step to cancel all Alaska cruises until July 1, 2020.

On March 24, Royal Caribbean extended its suspension of cruises until May 12, however, they also decided to cancel all Alaska cruises through June 30, 2020.

The decision was based on two primary factors: the ongoing spread of Coronavirus, as well as American and Canadian port closures.

Canadian port closures

A major factor prohibiting any Alaska cruise is the decision of the Canadian government to close its ports to cruise traffic, which means Royal Caribbean's ships cannot enter these ports.

On March 13, Transport Canada announced it would defer the start of the cruise ship season in Canada from April 2, 2020 to July 1, 2020, at the earliest.  This deferral will apply to cruise ships capable of carrying more than 500 passengers and crew members.

There are two primary ports Royal Caribbean relies on for its Canadian cruises: Vancouver and Victoria.

Vancouver is where Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas homeport during the season, while Victoria is a port of call for cruises out of Seattle.

Without access to Canadian ports, it is impossible for Royal Caribbean to operate any cruises, since even sailings beginning in the United States require a foreign port stop at some point in order to be in compliance with U.S. laws.

Port of Seattle delays

In addition to Canadian port closures, the Port of Seattle has delayed its start to the 2020 cruise season.

The Port now expects the launch of the cruise season will be delayed until the resolution of the public health emergency.

As a result of COVID-19, the start of Seattle’s cruise season will depend on the status of the public health emergency and the advice of local, state and federal public health officials.

The CDC has issued a nonessential travel warning and a temporary no sail order for cruise ships, and the State and King County have imposed a number of strict limitations to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Cruisers should know applying or renewing a passport is basically impossible due to coronavirus pandemic

By: Matt Hochberg

One of the best pieces of advice I offer to cruisers is to invest in a passport for a cruise, but applying for one or renewing now is basically impossible due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. State Department has halted its passport services except for limited exceptions. 

Unless it is a life-or-death situation, passport service is not available.

Effective March 20, 2020, we are only able to offer service for customers with a qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours.

If you are wondering what constitutes an emergency, it is serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family (e.g. parent, child, spouse, sibling, aunt, uncle, etc) that require you to travel outside the United States within 72 hours (3 days).

In order to have your passport application processed, you must provide:

  • A passport application with supporting documents
  • Proof of the life-or-death emergency such as a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional. Documents
  • Proof of international travel (e.g. reservation, ticket, itinerary)

If you are trying to apply or renew a U.S. passport  on or after March 20, 2020, the State Department says they will not offer expedited service and routine service may be delayed. 

If you applied and requested expedited service on or before March 19, 2020, the State Department will honor its commitment of a 2-3 week turnaround time, door-to-door, for expedited service.

As of March 25, 2020, post offices which are still accepting applications are requiring customers to make an online appointment to apply in person for a U.S. passport. If you need to apply in person for your U.S. passport, please contact the facility directly to confirm the status of its operations

Recipe: Make your own Lava Flow frozen drinks from Royal Caribbean at home!

By: Matt Hochberg

I am certain that if you close your eyes and start thinking of memories from past Royal Caribbean cruises, you may think of the Perfect Storm water slides, laughing with family during dinner in the dining room, or perhaps sipping on a frosty cocktail.

Ever since I had my first Lava Flow on a Royal Caribbean ship, I have been hooked!

The lava flow is essentially a pina colada with fruit syrup and mixed with a dark rum. If you ask me, it tastes significantly better when you opt for Kraken Rum (which is included with the Deluxe Beverage Package).

While at home, you can make this drink fairly easily and give yourself a bit of an escape back to the Lime & Coconut!

Lava flow Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz. light rum
  • 1 oz. Kraken rum
  • 2 oz. coconut cream
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 2 oz. fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 banana

Suggested music while preparing

  • Boat Drinks by Jimmy Buffett

Lava flow Instructions

  1. Mix strawberries and rum in blender and blend until well mixed.
  2. Place contents at bottom of a tall glass.
  3. Mix rest of the unused ingredients with crushed ice in a blender until smooth.
  4. Pour mixture into glass. The strawberry and rum mixture will creep up the sides of the glass, giving the drink its name.
  5. Serve with straw.

Royal Caribbean bolsters financial situation with $3.48 billion in backup financing

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's recent filing with the SEC indicates it has taken advantage of $3.48 billion in backup financing between two revolving lines of credit.

The loans come as the cruise line contends with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the cruise industry. This new backup financing means the cruise line has emptied its revolving credit coffers.

The move comes just over a week after Royal Caribbean took out a $2.2 billion loan on March 23. At the time, the company said it had $3.6 billion of liquidity, including undrawn revolving credit lines.

In addition to taking out loans, the cruise line has indicated it will cut costs, as well as pay cuts for the cruise line's executives.

The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has forced Royal Caribbean to cancel 30 days of sailings two times, with cruises beginning no earlier than mid-May.

Royal Caribbean brings back Kids Sail Free offer during Sail Away Sale

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering this weekend up to $200 instant savings, 60% off the second guest and Kids Sail Free.

The Sail Away Sale runs between April 2 – 6, 2020 and applies to select sailings departing on or after May 12, 2020. 

It includes:

  • 60% savings off the price of cruise fare of the second guest booked in the same stateroom as first, full-fare paying guest.
  • 30% cruise fare savings for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests.
  • Instant savings of up to $200 USD per stateroom
    • Sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $75 for Suites
    • Sailings 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $100 for Balconies and $200 for Suites
  • Kids Sail Free provides free cruise fare for 3rd guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger as of cruise departure date, booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests in a triple or quad-occupancy stateroom.
    • Kids Sail Free applies to select 4-night or longer Alaska, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean, CaribNE, Coastal, Europe, Hawaii, Repositioning and all 2020 Serenade of the Seas sailings departing between September 1, 2020 – December 17, 2020 and January 8, 2021 – May 17, 2021.
    • Offer excludes 2020 Thanksgiving sailings (Sailings between November 21 - 28, 2020), 2021 President’s Day Sailings (Sailings between February 12 – 15, 2021), and 2021 Spring Break and Easter sailings (Sailings between March 13 – April 4, 2021).
    • Taxes, fees, and port expenses are additional and apply to all guests.

 BOGO60 and Kids Sail Free are combinable with each other as well as promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, instant savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers, Free Upgrades, Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Sail Away Sale is combinable with BOGO60 and Kids Sail Free as well as with promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers, Free Upgrades, and Shareholder Benefits, but not combinable with Crown and Anchor discounts. Offer are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, and Net Rates. Promo Code driven offers are based on select ships and sail dates and must be applied at time of booking; limit one promo code per booking.

Offer available to residents of United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and select countries in the Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean executives take pay cut as coronavirus impact on cruise industry deepens

By: Matt Hochberg

According to paperwork filed with the SEC, Royal Caribbean's top executives are taking a pay cut while the cruise industry deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain has volunteered to not take a salary through the end of September, while Royal Caribeban International CEO Michael Bayley took a 25% pay cut.

Other executives taking a 25% pay cut include CFO Jason Liberty, and Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, CEO of Celebrity Cruises.

Effective as of April 1, 2020, Richard Fain, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, agreed to forego payment of his base salary and Jason Liberty, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International and Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises, each elected to reduce their respective base salaries by 25%, in each case, through September 30, 2020. These reductions were made in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the negative financial and operational impacts resulting therefrom.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the negative financial and operational impacts resulting therefrom, the Board of Directors approved to forego all cash retainers and fees payable for Board and committee service, effective from April 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020.

COVID-19 has completely disrupted the cruise industry, with Royal Caribbean in the midst of cancelling all sailings through at least mid-May.

Royal Caribbean to live stream sunrise at Perfect Day at CocoCay on April 2

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean will live stream sunrise over Perfect Day at CocoCay on its Facebook page.

In an effort to "brighten" everyone's day, Royal Caribbean sent an email that they will live stream sunrise on the Royal Caribbean Facebook page to‌mo‌rr‌ow.

The video will take place at the cruise line's private island in The Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Live streaming will begin at ‌7‌:‌1‌5a‌m E‌S‌T on A‌pr‌i‌l 2‌, 2‌02‌0.

To check out the broadcast on Thursday, simply visit Royal Caribbean on Facebook and you’ll find the live stream at the top of the page. I'm looking forward to starting my day by being virtually transported to paradise!

Will you start your day with the sun rise at Perfect Day at CocoCay? Let us know in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean Cruises Chairman offers outlook on the cruise industry during the current Coronavirus crisis

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain shared a brand new video on how he sees the current COVID-19 climate, and what his outlook on the situation.

Mr. Fain begins his video paralleling the current crisis with the timeline of a typical hurricane, and how things look bad before they get better.

"There's a reason for the old sailor's expression that it's always darkest before the dawn; It is darkest before the dawn, but we're not yet in the darkest part of the night. But, we're beginning to approach that period and we will have to prepare ourselves for two things."

"Firstly, we need to prepare ourselves for getting ready for that dark period, and secondly, we need to prepare ourselves for emerging into the dawn that follows."

Mr. Fain also talked about Royal Caribbean's dedication to the travel agent community, and the launch of RCL Cares. The support program helps small businesses navigate the government's CARES Act in a time when businesses are hurting all over.

"We hope these benefits can help your business not only recover, but prepared to charge ahead when we return to service."

"In these times, you can never have too much support and together we will get through this and back on the track to success."

Mr. Fain has been producing videos on a near-weekly basis, and you can check out each of his powerful and insightful takes on the situation:

"As Americans, we have a history of grit and resilience, and both will be needed as we deal with the rising devastation this diseases is bringing."

No, Royal Caribbean did not extend its cruise cancellations until September

By: Matt Hochberg

An article going around the internet today has spread a lot of misinformation about Royal Caribbean's current plans due to a misunderstanding about a recent policy change.

An article on Yahoo! Finance says Royal Caribbean has extended its halt of global cruise operations until September 1, 2020.

Unfortunately, this is inaccurate information.

Royal Caribbean has only cancelled nearly all of its sailings through May 11, 2020. Alaska, Canada and New England sailings are delayed until at least July 1, 2020.

The author likely is confusing Royal Caribbean's recent announcement to extend its Cruise with Confidence program through September 1.  This program allows guests to cancel their cruise up to 48 hours before there sailing and receive a 100% future cruise credit.

Royal Caribbean further clarified the article is indeed false as well.