Royal Caribbean offering travel agent community new support program to assist with COVID-19 impact

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced today it is creating RCL Cares to show support of the travel agent community that aims to assist thousands of travel professionals in the U.S., Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories dealing with the negative impact of the COVID-19 crisis.  

RCL Cares will roll out in a few days, and offer variety of services to help educate travel partners as they navigate the myriad of government benefits, including those in the newly signed U.S. economic relief measure—the CARES Act.

These services will include one-on-one assistance and access to key resources and the latest information pertaining to recovery benefits available under the act.

Travel partners can find educational material about the new law beginning today, and they will soon have the opportunity to receive more assistance through a resource desk the company is setting up. The program will not provide legal advice.

The sales teams from Azamara, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Silversea will guide travel advisors through the information about the CARES Act as they consider their options for economic relief. 

Travel professionals can get started with RCL Cares at, where they can access highlights of the CARES Act, FAQs, Small Business Association resources and tips. The support program will introduce new services and tools in the near future to continue helping travel partners during this difficult time.

Take a look back to a Sovereign of the Seas cruise in 1998

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's cruises are temporarily suspended around the world, so if we cannot go on a cruise today, how about a look back at cruising over 30 years ago!

Pack your Calgary Winter Olympics sweater, refrain from discussing the Iran-Contra affair, and turn up the Kylie Minogue because we are headed back to 1998 onboard the Sovereign of the Seas!

Sovereign of the Seas is one of three Sovereign Class cruise ships, and was operated by Royal Caribbean beginning with her maiden voyage on January 16, 1988 from PortMiami.

You migh tnotice that in addition to the option of Italian dinner in the Kismet and Gigi dining rooms, there is the much ballyhooed midnight buffet between midnight and 1am to enjoy.

There is plenty to keep you busy on this 73,192 ton ship.  In addition to the five-deck Centrum, glass elevators and fountains in marble pools, you can choose between karaoke, 70's disco party, live music and bingorama!

Sovereign of the Seas served in Royal Caribbean's fleet until November 2008 when she joined Pullmantur Cruises.

It is interesting to note that Sovereign of the Seas was the first Royal Caribbean ship to feature the now well-known suffix "of the Seas".

The name of the vessel was suggest and vehemently argued by Mortis Skaugen. "He literally shook the name into me," Richard Fain observes. There have been two prior ships called Sovereign of the Seas. The first, the price of King Charles I, was a towering, intricately carved Royal Navy warship of 1637. The second Sovereign was launched 200 years later from an American yard, a swift clipper ship built by Donald McKay. A handsome model of each vessel decorates the current ship's Schooner Bar.

Although on first hearing the name seemed overlong, it imparted exactly the right sense of royal occasion. Of course, the vessel's workaday generic would, predictably, be abbreviated to Sovereign; "___ of the Seas" would serve as an invaluable class-identifying suffix integrated into the names of both successors.

The first sea trials took place on September 5, 1987, which was a weekend.  Weekends were always selected for sea trials so that removing the vessel doe snot idle the workforce.

Sovereign of the Seas' naming ceremony was held in Miami on Friday, January 15. 

Taittinger had created a huge new champagne bottle - the largest ever blown - specifically called a sovereign in honor of the ship - the largest of its kind ever built.

President and Mrs. Carter were onboard the ship, as the crowd, serenaded by a large orchestra, took their seats on the pier. It was a festive throng, caparisoned with hats, flowers, company ties, and always, multitudes of cameras.

Led by Chairman Eigil Abrahmsen, Mrs. Carter and the President emerged from the crew gangway and trod a red-carpeted path to the dignitaries' platform. The former First Lady had chosen a yellow suit, prettily matched by a chrysanthemum alee lining her right of way.

Of the many Carters on hand, one of the youngest had shared with Chairman Abrahmsen the ultimate grandmother's accolade. "This young man told me that he knew wat RCCL stands for," the chairman informed his audience. "It stands for Rosalynn Carter's Cruise Line!"

After the speeches and a solemn blessing, Mrs. Carter and the chairman climbed atop the launch platform.  The music stopped. A hush fell over the spectators.  In a clear voice, Rosalynn Carter offered the traditional benison, named the vessel and cut the launch cord.

The maiden voyage of Sovereign of the Seas had only one glitch, while she was tied up in San Juan. That same evening, an inbound container vessel, Long Beach, grounded in the channel, bottling up Sovereign and keeping inboard cruise ships at sea.

Near noon, the captain of the port ordered tugs to stop trying to pull the grounded vessel off the sandbar, pushing her farther on instead in order to clear the channel.  Because of the delay, Sovereign missed her maiden St. Thomas call but - delightful compensation - scheduled a beach day at Labadee instead.

We timed this sailing quite well, because we will be able to watch Super Bowl XXXII between the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos. The rules of time travel strictly forbid placing bets to profit from the outcome of the game!

Unfortunately, our trip to the past must come to an end. I hope you enjoyed this retro look back at one of the most important ships in the history of Royal Caribbean!

Video: Latest Royal Caribbean News - More cancelled sailings, construction delays & a virtual cruise!

By: Matt Hochberg

With so much happening these days, our newest RoyalCaribbeanBlog video is a recap of all the Royal Caribbean news happening right now!

While we are all at home waiting for cruises to resume, I have a look at the big news from this past week to keep you informed of what is going on around the world of Royal Caribbean!

And if you love this video, there’s plenty more for you to enjoy over on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What are you looking forward to doing the most when cruises reusme?

A look at life on empty cruise ships thanks to social media

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has not offered any cruises for over two weeks, which means its ships have been sailing with just crew members onboard as they wait to return to service.

Thanks to social media, we have a peek at what the crew's life is like without passengers.

Continue Reading

Poll shows Americans will be slow to want to cruise again after coronavirus

By: Matt Hochberg

A new Harris Poll indicates that cruise lines and airlines will have the toughest road back after the coronavirus threat passes.

The poll was conducted between March 21-23, and looked at the feelings of Americans as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the many questions asked, one area of focus was how long until Americans return to normal activity once the virus flattens.

The poll found airlines and cruises "may be impacted the worst."

It found 22% of Americans say it will take a year or longer before they take a cruise and 1 in 10 say never again.

According to CLIA, about 30 million people went on a cruise in 2019, with 11.9 million coming from the United States. In 2018, the United States had a population of about 327.2 million people.

Royal Caribbean extends ability to cancel a cruise up to 48 hours before a sailing through September 1 due to coronavirus

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced today it has extended its Cruise with Confidence cancellation policy to now include sailings through September 1, 2020.

Under this policy, Royal Caribbean is providing guests with the flexibility to cancel a cruise for any reason up to 48 hours before a sailing is scheduled to depart.  

 Guests will receive a full Future Cruise Credit for their fare, usable on any future sailing of choice in 2020 or 2021.

The Cruise with Confidence program was introduced earlier this month at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, and provides significantly relaxed rules concerning cancelling a cruise if the situation changes for a guest.

Ordinarily, guests would incur a penalty for cancelling a sailing beyond the final payment date, which is typically 90 days before a sailing commences. Cruise with Confidence provides a great deal more flexibility to change minds with no penalty.

“Guests are reacting positively to our Cruise with Confidence policy,” says company chairman and CEO Richard Fain, “because it enables them to make informed decisions and to better manage complicated travel plans during this unprecedented time of uncertainty.”

The extension applies to all cruises with sailing dates on or before September 1, 2020, and applies to the company’s global brands Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara.

All Cruise with Confidence Future Cruise Credits must be redeemed on sailings departing on-or-before December 31, 2021.

Currently, Royal Caribbean has cancelled all of its sailings between March 14 and May 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and plans to resume service on May 12, 2020.

In addition, due to port closures around the world, Royal Caribbean added they expect to return to service for Alaska, Canada and New England sailings July 1, 2020.

Free printable Royal Caribbean coloring pages for adults!

By: Matt Hochberg

Last week I shared Royal Caribbean coloring sheets for kids, but if you want to color with a bigger challenge, I have you covered!

In these days of being stuck at home, coloring is a great pastime for anyone and I have a new Royal Caribbean coloring pages for all ages.

The new sheets feature scenes from the Boardwalk, Ultimate Abyss, and Harmony of the Seas in Labadee.

You can download and print these coloring sheets right here.

Share photos of your finished product and I'll add your creations back to this post!

By John Henderson

By Michael Poole

Spotted: Royal Caribbean issues safety guidelines to crew members to curb the spread of Coronavirus

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has issued new safety protocols to its crew members that are working on its cruise ships to help stop the spread of COVID-19 outbreaks onboard.

In the wake of at least 14 crew members on Oasis of the Seas confirmed to be infected, Royal Caribbean has issued new safety guidelines.

According to, the letter passed to crew on Navigator of the Seas includes these 10 new rules:

1. Only crew that are assigned to work can leave their room
2. Crew that are not working MUST STAY in their room. Failure to comply will result in disciplinary action up to termination.
3. Smokers are NOT ALLOWED out of their rooms to smoke. Smoking in the cabin is also NOT ALLOWED. Failure to comply will result in disciplinary action up to termination.
4. Food and water will be delivered to your room, the menu selection will be on your television.
5. In-room movies will be available within few hours, please be patient as we need to add you into the system first.
6. Please treat the room with respect, keep it clean and tidy. This is still a guest stateroom.
7. Fresh linen and toilet paper will be provided.
8. The moment you experience and of the following symptoms call the nurse on duty: High Fever, Coughing, Breathing Problems.
9 We will continue with our twice-daily temperature check, your management team will come to you, DO NOT leave your cabin.
10. Keep your self healthy by practicing good hygiene and wash your hands as often as possible.

All Royal Caribbean ships are currently shut down from cruising with guests. There are only crew members onboard maintaining the ships until regular sailings resume.

Royal Caribbean reiterated its commitment to its crew members and their safety in a statement, “The health and well-being of our crew is our foremost priority. Crewmembers who exhibited symptoms were evaluated by our medical staff and remain under close supervision. In accordance with our health and safety protocols, our crew have been asked to self-isolate in cabins while we await confirmation of initial results from public health authorities.”

Royal Caribbean hopes to resume sailings on May 12, 2020 to some destinations.

What to know about cruising during hurricane season in the Caribbean

By: Matt Hochberg

Going on a cruise during hurricane season is an opportunity for some, a no-go for others, and questionable to many more.  So is going on a cruise during hurricane season a good idea?

Hurricane season is a balance of potentially great cruise prices against the chance a storm could disrupt your plans. 

Should you cruise during hurricane season?

Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, but the season's peak is primarily between August and October. 

Tropical storms are notoriously unpredictable, but there are usually around a dozen or so storms in a given year, with some being stronger or weaker than others. The prediction for 2020 is 14 to 18 tropical storms, seven to nine of which could become hurricanes and two to four could strengthen into major hurricanes.

The reality is many storms never impact land, and few have a direct impact on places cruise ships will visit. Moreover, if there is a storm in the area, Royal Caribbean will change the itinerary to avoid ever getting near the path of the storm.

The best reason to cruise during hurricane season is the lower prices. Cruises during this time of year scare away some people, and so prices tend to be lower to attract others. Moreover, the peak of hurricane season is when school is back in session, so less families are likely to cruise during this time of year.

Ultimately, you should cruise during hurricane season if you are flexible with your plans and okay with an itinerary shift. The weather might not be ideal, but there is a very good chance you will still be able to go on your cruise.

More: It's supposed to rain my entire cruise!

Will a hurricane affect my cruise?

The chance of a hurricane forming and disrupting your itinerary is pretty low, but it is possible to occur.

Royal Caribbean's top priority is the safety of the guests, crew and ship, and will never send a ship near a hurricane. To that point, if a storm is predicted to go anywhere near where a ship is scheduled to be, Royal Caribbean will be the first to cancel scheduled port stops or even completely change the itinerary.

Royal Caribbean's Chief Meteorologist James Van Fleet works year round to monitor weather patterns in order to keep ships safe. During hurricane season, he goes into overdrive to make very certain the ship's Captain and Royal Caribbean are making the best decisions possible.

Cruising during hurricane season means having a certain level of flexibility with your plans. While the odds of a storm affecting your cruise is low, you should be mentally prepared for that to occur.

Hurricanes have the potential to impact a wide area of the ocean, so yes, increased wave height or winds are possible.  However, Mr. Van Fleet works with each ship's Captain to project the best course to avoid the worst of any storm. Moreover, Royal Caribbean's ships are designed to be able to handle significantly worse weather conditions while providing as smooth a ride as possible for guests.

Perhaps the greatest source of frustration for cruisers is not actually being on the ship when there is a hurricane in the Atlantic or Caribbean, but the nonstop news cycle in the days leading up to the cruise that causes a great deal of anxiety. There are lot of unknowns, but with more data pouring in, prediction models become more reliable closer to the sailing.

Are cruises cancelled due to hurricanes?

On rare occasions, Royal Caribbean will cancel a cruise if a storm is projected to impact an area where the ship is scheduled to embark/disembark.

Cancelling a cruise is usually the last option for Royal Caribbean, and they are more likely to keep a ship out at sea for an extra day or two and then subsequently shorten the next sailing, than outright cancel a full sailing.

Operating cruises during hurricane season is something Royal Caribbean has been doing for decades, so they have a great deal of expertise when it comes to best practices, and it is part of the reason why cruises are almost never canceled.

If you have a cruise booked during hurricane season, you should absolutely plan on going on the cruise.

Invest in travel insurance

The decision to get travel insurance or not seems to be a no-brainer when it comes to cruising during hurricane season because of all the possibilities it entails.

Whether you get travel insurance from Royal Caribbean or from a third-party provider, you want to ensure the policy covers disruption in case of weather-related events.

It is also important to consider "Cancel For Any Reason" policies.  Most travel insurance only kicks in if your vacation is interrupted (i.e. Royal Caribbean cancelling the cruise or airlines cancelling your flight).  A hurricane in the Atlantic and your fear of going is not grounds for travel insurance to kick in.  

If you want the flexibility to cancel your trip before Royal Caribbean does, you will need a policy that includes Cancel For Any Reason.

What happens if you have a cruise booked and there is a hurricane?

If you see a storm is formed and could possibly impact your sailing, be sure to follow Royal Caribbean and James Van Fleet on Twitter for updates on any impact.

Your travel agent will also inform you if they are apprised of any changes.

Former Royal Caribbean Cruise Director created a week-long virtual cruise for everyone stuck at home

By: Matt Hochberg

There are a lot of cruise fans who are stuck at home and dreaming of the day they can get back onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise, so former Cruise Director Abe Hughes decided to offer a virtual cruise for them.

Dubbed "Virtual of the Seas", Hughes crafted a daily Cruise Compass to provide his friends at home activities that would not only keep them occupied, but were similar to the sort of activities you would find on a cruise.

Hughes is no longer a Cruise Director, although he does still work for Royal Caribbean in their sales department supporting travel agents near his home in the midwest.

Each day, there was a new Cruise Compass for anyone interested to read that had activities they could do at home, as well as collaborate online.  This included Sudoku, trivia, napkin folding and more.  

Each evening, Mr. Hughes hosted a Facebook Live session of his morning show recording that he used to do onboard the ship.

The idea proved so popular, that Royal Caribbean announced Virtual of the Seas will sail again, with a 4-night "cruise" that begins on March 30.

You can follow Abe Hughes on his Facebook page and join in on the second sailing of Virtual of the Seas!