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Royal Caribbean's UK boss talks about plans to restart cruises

In:
30Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's vice president EMEA, Ben Bouldin, spoke to cruise fans during an online webinar about what Royal Caribbean is thinking in regards to cruises starting up again.

Mr. Bouldin answered questions during a CruiseCritic webinar about how Royal Caribbean will approach their return to service, and what is happening right now to get closer to cruises resuming.

Today's talk with Mr. Bouldin provided an updated look at the latest changes and news.

Extensive test sailings

One of the first topics tackled was test cruises, and what to expect from them.

Royal Caribbean received a tremendous amount of interest from the public to be a volunteer on test cruises, and the question remains what to expect from these test sailings.

Mr. Bouldin believes the test sailings will be "critical" to preparing the fleet to start again safely.

The exact specifics of these test sailings still need to be defined fully, "We might need some volunteers in some markets to do so and we'll see how that goes. But the team are planning what those tests eventually look like."

The opportunity to sign up for test cruises is limited to Americans currently, but European test sailings will also need to occur and volunteers could be a part of that too.

"There will definitely be trial cruises on the ship sailing out of Europe, so we've had that confirmed."

"What form those are going to take was still working on, but there will definitely be some trial cruises and whether or not we open those up to the public and still to be defined."

"But I suspect we may well need the help of some of our very loyal, Crown and Anchor guests to come and help put some of the ships and the crews through their paces."

First cruise back on Quantum

On the topic of test cruises, Royal Caribbean just wrapped up its first test sailing with Quantum of the Seas right before she will start sailing again tomorrow.

Mr. Bouldin noted Quantum completed its first test sailing in Singapore with "friends and family" onboard.

"We've worked very closely with the Singapore authorities to produce a program that's fit for purpose and helps us return to service safely. And we're delighted to get that back up and running tomorrow."

"I'm sure we're going to learn so much about our future plans on the basis of how these sailing's developed evolve."

Of course, these cruises on Quantum have been designed with safety of crew and passengers in conjunction with the Singaporean government.

"There are so many different protocols, many different aspects from hygiene and cleaning crew to how we serve in restaurants and buffets, how we socially distance and theaters."

"All of these things have to be thought through practiced and implemented ahead of guests coming on board."

Technology will be critical

When cruises restart, technology will play its most significant role yet on cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean has always invested in new ways to leverage tech, such as facial recognition and a new app, but more changes are coming.

Mr. Bouldin noted that the cruise line wants to create contactless environments around the ship, such as how people can order drinks from their phone or open their stateroom doors.

"That's all going to evolve and continue to evolve. So planning your trip and having everything in the palm of your hand is critical."

One of the signature new features coming to the Royal Caribbean app is Muster 2.0, which makes the muster drill a self-service and easier experience.

Buffet is not going away

And for anyone still concerned, the Windjammer buffet is not going anywhere.

There was concern earlier this year that the buffet might be going away, but Mr. Bouldin echoed follow up comments from Royal Caribbean that there will still be a buffet, albeit with some changes.

"The buffet is staying. The Windjammer Cafe is one of the most loved and best loved features of our product and is genuinely adored by our fans all over the world."

"In the short term, we may have to look at some changes around how food is served, but ultimately that restaurant and the brand has no intention of getting rid of the buffet that everyone loves."

First Royal Caribbean cruise in 9 months will sail tomorrow

In:
30Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Nine months after Royal Caribbean shut down its cruises due to the global health crisis, its first cruise ship will offer a revenue cruise tomorrow.

Quantum of the Seas will sail from Singapore on December 1, and begin offering 3- and 4-night cruises to only residents of Singapore with no port stops.

Royal Caribbean shut down all cruises beginning on March 14, 2020 and has not offered another cruise since. Quantum of the Seas will be the first to offer paid cruises since March.

The first sailing on Quantum of the Seas on December 1 is capped at about 1,000 guests.

A variety of comprehensive new health protocols will be implemented onboard Quantum of the Seas including:

  • Testing and screening
  • Upgraded Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems that enhance filtration
  • Stringent cleaning practices
  • Reduced capacities for greater physical distancing
  • Expert medical care and onboard facilities

Read moreHere's what Royal Caribbean will require guests to do for first cruises back in Singapore

Initially, Quantum of the Seas cruises will be: 

  • Round-trips with no ports of call
  • Sailing at a reduced capacity of up to 50 percent
  • Only open to Singapore residents

Quantum of th eSeas will spend the next four months sailing from Singapore and offer these short cruises.

Prior to the official sailing, Royal Caribbean has been preparing for these cruises. Nick Weir, Senior Vice President of Entertainment for Royal Caribbean International, shared photos of the production show cast rehearsing.

It appears there was at least one preview cruise over the weekend, which was a 2-night sailing open to select invitees before official sailings commence.

The test sailing was limited to a small amount of guests who helpted test out some of the new health protocols, which includes contact tracing tokens, RT-PCR testing, masks and more.

While Quantum of the Seas will be able to restart in Singapore, the rest of the fleet is shutdown until further notice.

Australia cruises are cancelled through the end of January 2021, and the elsewhere cruises are shutdown until the end of December 2020 (although many expect more cancellations soon).

Royal Caribbean has shared no firm restart plans anywhere other than Singapore, as the cruise line is working diligently to prepare its ships to meet the new standards set forth by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Even though the framework for conditional sailing does open the possibility for cruises to resume in North America, there is no sense of when that sort of approval might actually occur.

Photos: Odyssey of the Seas floated out at shipyard

In:
29Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

In case you missed it, Royal Caribbean's next new cruise ship is on the move and one big step closer to completion.

On the morning of November 28th, Odyssey of the Seas left her covered dock at the Meyer Werft shipyard to begin her float out.

Despite no public announcement of the event by Meyer Werft, a number of cruise ship enthusiasts made it down to the shipyard, including photographer Björn Haß.

Preparations to move Odyssey of the Seas out began a few days earlier. Space was made for Odyssey outside, and then the doors to the hall opened for Odyssey to begin her movement.

 

Royal Caribbean's second Quantum Ultra Class cruise ship was moved out of the hall with the assistance of tugs. 

It took about an hour for Odyssey to leave the dock and then get tied up along the quay.

After the ship was moved out of the hall, work began to install the North Star.

Over the next few months, work will continue on Odyssey of the Seas to add more features.  Once she's ready, Odyssey will begin her conveyance down the Ems River so that she can conduct her sea trials.

The 169,000 GT cruise liner has an overall length of 347.1 meters, is 41.4 meters wide and can accommodate more than 5000 passengers.

Odyssey of the Seas is now the fifth Quantum/Quantum Ultra Class ship to be constructed at Meyer Werft, following Quantum, Anthem, Ovation and Spectrum of the Seas.

Odyssey of the Seas was originally scheduled to be delivered in autumn 2020, but Royal Caribbean delayed that until spring 2021.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: November 29, 2020

In:
29Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday and Happy Thanksgiving weekend! I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday with family and friends! There is a lot of Royal Caribbean news to share this week.

Royal Caribbean will not sell any cruises longer than 7-nights until further notice in order to comply with new rules by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The CDC's Framework for Conditional Sailing Order stipulates that cruises longer than 7 nights and call on a U.S. port are not allowed while the CSO is in effect.

Therefore, Royal Caribbean sailings between Jan. 1 and Nov. 1, 2021 are "temporarily paused" while Royal Caribbean determines what to do with them.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 382nd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is available to enjoy, where we learn how Royal Caribbean developed the concept for the Central Park neighborhood.

Royal Caribbean's Kelly Gonzalez shares the story of how Central Park went from idea, to test, to failure, to new idea and eventually success.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

New video: 8 NOT STUPIDEST purchases I made to bring on a cruise

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! This week, we are sharing our latest video — 8 NOT STUPIDEST purchases I made to bring on a cruise — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Odyssey of the Seas has been floated out!

Royal Caribbean's next new cruise ship was succesfully floated out from her shipyard hall on Saturday, reaching a major milestone in her construction.

Ship building Meyer Werft shared photos of Odyssey of the Seas being pulled out of the shipyard by tugboat and docked just outside the hall.

Now that Odyssey of the Seas is docked outside, more work will be done to add features to her, including the addition of the North Star observation pod.

Top 14 things the CDC requires cruise ships do on test sailings

In:
28Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Test cruises are the precursor to the regular cruises starting up again, so it is no surprise so many people are fixated on when they might start and what needs to be done onboard.

Interest in test cruises has been so high that Royal Caribbean started taking sign ups for volunteers (although there has not been any information on if/when they will be needed).

So what do cruise lines have to do during these test cruises? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has outlined as series of steps test sailings must do in order to demonstrate new cruise line protocols meant to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 work well.

The Framework for Conditional Sailing lists the requirements for test cruises to complete, so here is what any cruise ship conducting a test cruise will need to do.

Read moreHere's what Royal Caribbean will require guests to do for first cruises back in Singapore

Embarkation & Disembarkation Process

Getting guests safely onboard the ship at the beginning of the cruise, and off the ship at the conclusion of the sailing is a basic requirement for test sailings.

Cruise lines must conduct the terminal check-in process so that all of the cruise terminal protocols can be tested.

Conduct regular onboard activities

Test cruises need to be as close to the "real thing" as possible, so cruise lines cannot just test out new protocols without engaging in typical cruise ship activities.

The CDC wants as close to real world experiences as they can, so that is why volunteer guests are needed and why cruise lines cannot simply do just the required drills and call it a success.

Offer private island shore excursions

If a cruise ship visits a private island (such as Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas), excursions need to be offered to simulate the process of guests going on a tour.

Shore excursions are big business for cruise lines, and a major component of the cruise experience.  New protocols have been added for shore excursions, and as a result these protocols need to be tested if a ship visits a port.

Early cruises once they restart are expected to call upon private islands on short sailings, so it is important to test these tour protocols as well.

Evacuation procedures

The reality is positive cases are to be expected onboard a cruise ship, and therefore, getting guests off the ship safely and expeditiously is important.

Cruise ships must be able to test how they will get guest(s) off the ship without disrupting other guests, or exposing anyone else.

Transfer of symptomatic passengers or crew

One of the first steps when a positive case is identified is how to quickly isolate and quarantine that person.

After someone tests positive for SARSCoV-2, they need to be moved from cabins to isolation rooms without infecting or exposing anyone else along the way.

Quarantine of all remaining passengers and non-essential crew

If there was an outbreak on the ship, unexposed passengers and crew need to be able to be quarantined to prevent further infections.

Other activities as may be listed in CDC technical instructions and orders

This is a "catch-all" for anything else the CDC may deem necessary later on. 

When the Conditional Sail Order was drafted, the federal agency knew more tasks would be needed, so it left room to add other requirements in the wording.

Meet personal hygiene standards

Test cruises must meet standards for the hygiene of passengers and crew members to ensure they are properly protecting each other.

This includes anyone onboard following CDC regulated orders related to proper

  • Hand hygiene
  • Face coverings
  • Social distancing for passengers and crew
  • Ship sanitation

Social distancing

When a test cruise serves meals onboard or engages in entertainment, it must be done with social distancing in mind.

Dining and entertainment venues must be set up to facilitate social distancing, so changes to these venues would be necessary.

Testing of all passengers on the first and last day fo the cruise

A lab test of all passengers and crew members must be completed on embarkation and disembarkation day to ensure there are no positive cases.

These tests must be made available before the passenger gets onboard the ship as well as before they leave the ship to go elsewhere.

The CDC says crew and passengers will also be laboratory tested again after they depart the ship.

Additional laboratory testing during the cruise may be required by the CDC, but it is not required as of now.

Rapid testing needed for anyone that reports symptoms

If a passenger or crew member reports a symptom that could possibly be COVID-19, the ship must immediately conduct laboratory testing with rapid point-of-care results.

Contact tracing must also be conducted to ensure anyone who had close contact is not infected either.

CDC can end test cruises whenever it wants

If necessary, the CDC can order a cruise line to immediately end a test cruise.

If COVID-19 is found on a test cruise, the CDC reserves the right to conduct any action it deems necessary to protect the health and safety of volunteer passengers and crew.

Cruise ships must record and report any problems with the new rules

If a new protocol does not work well (or at all), the ship must report these issues through an "after-action" report and address how they will address those deficiencies before they can apply to offer passenger sailings.

This after-action report must also include test results for any volunteer passengers or crew on the simulated voyage. The after-action report must be submitted to the CDC as soon as practicable at the end of the simulation and as part of the cruise ship operator’s application for a COVID-19 Conditional Sailing Certificate.

CDC can force protocol changes or insist on more test cruises

Even after a cruise line finishes its test sailings, the CDC reserves the right to request a cruise line modify new rules.

It can also require additional simulated voyages prior to giving a ship approval to restart sailings.

 

Odyssey of the Seas leaves shipyard building

In:
28Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's next new cruise ship reached a major milestone on Saturday morning when it departed the shipyard hall it was being constructed in and was floated outside.

Ship building Meyer Werft shared photos of Odyssey of the Seas being pulled out of the shipyard by tugboat and docked just outside the hall.

Now that Odyssey of the Seas is docked outside, more work will be done to add features to her, including the addition of the North Star observation pod.

The North Star is a glass observational pod attached to a giant arm that guests can board to get 360-degree views from 300 feet above sea level.

The ship's move today is a major milestone in the construction of any cruise ship.

Earlier this week, the finishing touches to the ship's undercarriage were being done when new propellors were added to the propulsion units.

Once complete, Odyssey of the Seas will join Royal Caribbean's fleet as the second Quantum Ultra class cruise ship and split her time between Europe and North America.

Odyssey of the Seas is scheduled to be delivered to Royal Caribbean in Spring 2021.

After her inaugural season in Europe, Odyssey will then continue its inaugural year in Fort Lauderdale, FL with 8- and 6-night Caribbean itineraries.

Odyssey has been under construction since the steel cutting ceremony in February 2019, but delivery was delayed due to the impact of the global health crisis.

Did Black Friday sales save you money on your cruise?

In:
27Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean joined in on the Black Friday offers with its own offers, but the question is did it save people money on their cruise vacation?

Royal Caribbean has two Black Friday offers that run the entire week between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, and offer deals on cruise fares as well as pre-cruise purchases.

Each year, many cruise fans wait in anticipation of what offer might be available, and until the actual promotion begins, it is impossible to know how significant the actual savings will be.

Royal Caribbean's Black Friday 2020 offer

Royal Caribbean's Cyber Week Sale runs between November 24 - December 1, 2020 and offer a bundle of savings, with up to $550 off cruise fares.

Guests can combine the Cyber Week Sale with the November monthly offer, which provides 60% off the second guest, and kids sail free.

In addition, there is a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale on pre-cruise add-ons, like drink packages, shore excursions, wifi and more.

Both the cruise fare sale and the Cruise Planner sale run through early next week, so you do not have to book on Black Friday or Cyber Monday to take advantage of the offer.

Did anyone save money?

Like most Royal Caribbean promotions, savings vary from person to person. There is rarely any one promotion that gives an across the board discount.

Depending on if you had something booked already, or were looking to book a new cruise today, the perceived discount differed.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers shared their experiences on the message boards, and the general consensus was there were deeper discounts on the cruise add-on purchases, than the cruise fare promotion.

Luckily for USFFrank, the deal on the non-alcoholic beverage package came out quite cheap, "For my Harmony of the Seas cruise next November, the refreshment package is $18.00. That's the cheapest I've ever paid for that particular beverage package going back several cruises and I'm surprised it's this low nowadays."

Lovetocruise2002 bought a drink package as the only deal she ran across, "Nothing stands out on any of my sailings either.  All I did was grab the drink package for 2 sailings (later in 2021) in case what some of us suspect holds true (that those prices will jump once sailings resume)."

USCG Teacher did not find better deals today because they had take advantage of previous sales, "So far this Black Friday has been a bit of a dud for me.  The All Access Tour went from $130 to $90, so that was great, but no savings to be found anywhere else.  That said, I had already repurchased most of my items back during the past Cruise Planner sale and found some really terrific deals then."

Most people that talked about what they found indicated prices for cruises were at what they paid already, or higher, because these smart planners had booked earlier and taken advantage of previous price drops.

Royal Caribbean allows guests to take advantage of a price drop and reprice their cruise with no penalty up until final payment date. This includes guests from around the world, thanks to a more flexible Best Price Guarantee program that was altered earlier this year.

As long as the price drops for the same ship and sail date that has been booked previously, and it is before final payment date, you can take advantage of the lower price while simultaneously ensuring the price does not jump up.

Why were there not better deals?

While Black Friday conjures up notions of bargain-basement super low prices on appliances, clothing, or electronics, cruise fares do not have such drastic price swings.

In fact, the cruise industry sees its most aggressive pricing during the early part of the year in what the industry refers to as "wave season".

Wave season takes place between January and March, and is a reflection of the fact most people book their cruise vacations during the early part of the year. Essentially, unpleasant winter weather and an empty calendar for the coming year lead many to look to book a cruise.

In order to jump on the increased demand, cruise lines tend to roll out their better promotions during wave season in order to convince people to book.

In addition, Royal Caribbean has monthly sales and promos throughout the year that keep the prices moving.

Certainly Royal Caribbean is not one to shy away from joining in the Black Friday buzz, but cruise fare pricing is not the same as televisions, phones, or video games.

How to book a cruise with your credit card reward points

In:
27Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

If you have credit card reward points burning a hole in your pocket, you can use them to help reduce the cost of a cruise vacation or even get it for free.

Unlike redeeming credit card points for flights, there is not as straight forward an option for getting a free cruise with your credit card.

Outside of Royal Caribbean's branded credit card (more on that later), the option to use rewards for cruises is not nearly as simple.

However, there are a few ways you can leverage your credit card points to make your cruise vacation cheaper.

Pay down the cost of the cruise

Unfortunately redeeming reward points for a cruise is not as simple as booking a flight, but you can definitely still leverage all of those points you earned.

The easiest thing you can do is use a credit card that gives you points that can be applied directly towards purchases you make on travel and/or any purchase.

Many credit cards will let you apply your points towards your credit card balance for the month, thereby offsetting the cost of the cruise. This has an additional benefit of allowing you to partially pay off the cruise if you do not have a lot of points. Other credit cards may offer cash back instead, which can also reduce the cost.

Moreover, you can use this strategy effectively by using points to pay off the deposit, and then apply more points later at regular intervals with payments or waiting for the final payment.

Example:

  • $500 initial deposit to secure the fare
  • $1000 payment a few months later
  • $500 payment next month
  • $1200 final payment 90 days before the cruise

Each of those payments could potentially be on different credit card billing cycles, and you could apply rewards points to each one.

Read more45 ways to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Redeem your points for a cruise

There are a few credit cards that offer travel rewards that can actually be used to book a cruise.

Rewards programs, such as American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou, offer these options, but there is a small catch.  When you book them, you have to book through the credit card's travel agency. This means if you have a travel agent you regularly use, or prefer to book cruises on your own, you have no choice but to go with the credit card company.

Usually the price of the cruise is presented in cash, and at checkout there is option to apply some or all of your credit card points to cover the cost of the cruise.

Get a free cruise with Royal Caribbean's credit card

Royal Caribbean offers its own branded Visa Signature credit card, where you can earn points towards free cruises (as well as other benefits, like onboard credit).

Like all company-specific cred it cards, the rate at which you earn points is worse than general travel rewards credit cards, and you are of course limited to just Royal Caribbean cruises.

If your mission is to only earn free cruises on Royal Caribbean with credit card points, this is the simplest method of doing so.  However, you will get more bang for your buck with other rewards cards.

Read moreIs the Royal Caribbean credit card worth it?

Use points to bring vacation cost down

If none of these options seem to be a great fit, you can always fall back on using your credit card points to help bring down the overall cost of your cruise vacation.

If you have to fly to your cruise, you can redeem your points for flights and reduce another significant cost.  

You could use credit card points towards individual purchases, such as cruise add-ons, like shore excursions or drink packages.

These add-ons can be purchased through Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner website before the cruise begins.

Read moreShould you buy pre-cruise purchases now or wait to buy it onboard?

5 ways cruise ships have tougher COVID-19 protocols than airplanes

In:
27Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

When cruise ships restart sailings, they will have sweeping new health protocols and policies that are unmatched in the rest of the travel industry.

Perhaps no other industry is taking as many precautions and adopting new rules in order to protect the health of its customers and workers than the cruise lines.

While the airlines have adopted some new rules to keep its passengers safe, new cruise line health protocols are going to greatly exceed those basic safeguards.

Of course the experience on a cruise ship is not exactly the same as on an airplane, nonetheless, the cruise industry is going above and beyond the new health protocols airlines have adopted that claim to be safe for flying.

Limiting ship capacity vs. leaving middle seat open

The basic step airlines took to socially distance its passengers was to leave the middle seat open on its airplanes (a step most airlines are about to get rid of), but cruise ships are going to leave up to half of their rooms unsold to foster social distancing.

When cruise ships restart operations, they will not come close to filling their cruise ships.  One of the health protocols that the Healthy Sail Panel proposed, and adopted by the cruise industry, is to limit how many passengers are able to go on a cruise ship in order to allow for appropriate physical distancing on board.

The exact percentage of a ship's capacity that will be reduced will depend on the size and design of each cruise ship, but when Quantum of the Seas restarts cruises in Singapore in December, Royal Caribbean will reduce the capacity to no more than 50% occupancy.

In fact, the first Quantum of the Seas sailing will only have about 1,000 passengers onboard a ship that can regularly handle 4,905 guests.

In addition, other forms of social distancing will be enforced, including reduced capacity at dining and other public venues, staggered embarkation and check-in and the addition of more options for entertainment such as additional show times to allow for social distancing.

While many airlines quickly adopted leaving the middle seat open as a policy, a number of airlines have either removed or plan to remove that policy. At one time, Frontier Airlines announced it would charge passengers a fee, starting at $39, to ensure the middle seat next to them would remain empty. 

100% testing on cruise ships vs. no testing at all

If you go on a flight today, you can walk right into the airport, through security and onto your airplane without any tests. Cruise ships have promised to test every single person and crew member.

All lines that are members of the Cruise Lines International Association have committed to 100 percent testing of all passengers and crew prior to embarkation on ships that carry more than 250 passengers. 

One of the goals of the Healthy Sail Panel is to make being on a ship as safe as or safer than being in your own home town.

The onboard medical care offers guests and crew members daily temperature checks, fast and free SARS-CoV-2 testing capabilities onboard, and complimentary in-stateroom medical evaluations.

Royal Caribbean has also added more doctors and nurses in their shipboard Medical Centers and enhanced its state-of-the-art equipment to provide high quality care.

No other section of the travel industry has 100% testing, which separates Royal Caribbean (and other CLIA member lines) from the rest of travel.

Air circulation

Modern airplanes maintain clean air by circulating a mix of fresh air and air recycled through HEPA filters. Royal Caribbean says its HVAC system continuously supplies 100% fresh, filtered air from outdoors to all indoor spaces.

The air is drawn from one side of the ship for cooling and ventilation, then removed via exhaust on the opposite side of the ship.

This continual intake of fresh air replaces the air in any space, with a total air change up to 12 times an hour in staterooms, and about 15 changes an hour in large public spaces.

Upgraded MERV 13 filters capture aerosols 0.3 to 1 micron in size — fine enough to filter coronavirus, colds and flu.

CDC oversight vs no oversight

Since March, the cruise industry has had to answer to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and faced an uphill battle for proving it can operate safely. The airlines have encountered no such government restrictions.

For many months, the CDC shut down the cruise industry while airlines were able to continue operating unabated and with no new rules imposed by the government.

Only recently has the CDC provided a new pathway for cruises to receive permission to cruise again, assuming each cruise ship can demonstrate it can function in a safe manner under a series of strict checkpoints and requirements.

The framework for conditional sailing is meant to potentially allow cruise ships to sail again while not putting the public health at risk.

Enhanced sanitization

Both airlines and cruise lines have committed to cleaning surfaces, but cruise ships will ensure they have medical grade cleanliness onboard.

Airplanes treat their planes with antimicrobial technology that can disinfectant surfaces onboard.

Cruise ships have also adopted new cleaning standards to ensure every ship is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to every voyage, and consistently and frequently throughout a sailing. 

Royal Caribbean has said frequently touched areas like elevators, escalators, stairways, and promenades will be cleaned every two hours and gangway rails every 20 to 30 minutes during busy times.

Staterooms are cleaned daily only while guests are out of the room, and particular attention is paid to frequently used items and surfaces.  Hospital-grade disinfectants are used daily to clean all high-touch surfaces.

Like on airplanes, touchless Purell hand sanitizer and wipes dispensers are available for use by guests.

Could Pullmantur return with a new fleet of former Celebrity Cruises cruise ships?

In:
27Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Pullmantur Cruises, which is partially owned by the Royal Caribbean Group, might be able to survive filing bankruptcy and selling off its fleet of cruise ships in order to return next year.

Europapress reports Pullmantur has reached an agreement with the Royal Caribbean Group to allocate the necessary funds so that it could restart operations eventually. 

In fact, restart plans could involve acquiring two Celebrity Cruises Millennium Class cruise ships as part of the plan. The ships would provide significantly more balcony staterooms than Pullmantur's old fleet had.

The financial filings did not disclose which of the Millennium class ships might be headed to Pullmantur.

   

The business plan filed in Spanish bankruptcy court includes offering Future Cruise Credits for guests that were booked on Pullmantur to be used on either Royal Caribbean International or Celebrity Cruises. Refunds would also be made available if the customer prefers.    

"We believe in the possibilities of a shipping company of the stature of Pullmantur and we are working intensively on the business plan with the aim of betting on the viability of the company," said bankruptcy administrator Francisco Vera.

 

Pullmantur was one of the early victims of the cruise industry shutdown, and filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2020.

 Two former Royal Caribbean ships, Monarch of the Seas and Sovereign of the Seas, were sold to a Turkish scrapyard.

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