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We asked our readers what they're most concerned about going on a cruise right now

In:
17 Jan 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

There are plenty of challenges when traveling right now, so which of these are the top concern for cruisers?

Why do cruise ships float? | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean, and other cruise lines, have had to adjust their health protocols and plans due to the Omicron variant. Some ships had to cancel cruises, itineraries changed, activity schedules altered and more.

I wanted to know which concern is the top one for most cruisers to get a sense of what potential issues are at the top of everyone's mind.

The point of running this poll was to really see which issues cruise fans thought about, and which concerns were less important.

Royal Caribbean's plan to avoid a ship getting quarantined | Royal Caribbean Blog

I posted a Facebook poll with the question which of these options is your number one concern you have about going on a cruise ship right now?

  • Missed ports of call
  • Government restrictions coming home
  • Getting sick
  • Cruise being cancelled
  • Having to wear a mask onboard
  • Less activities/entertainment onboard
  • Getting quarantined
  • Getting (and passing) a Covid-19 test prior to the cruise
  • Other

In less than 24 hours, 2,893 people participated in this unscientific poll and the results were a bit surprising in some cases.

Quarantine

How Royal Caribbean provides medical care at sea | Royal Caribbean Blog

The number one concern among the respondents was having to quarantine onboard the ship because they, or someone in their family, tested positive for Covid-19 onboard the ship.

Passengers that test positive for Covid-19 are brought to an area of the ship with rooms dedicated for quarantining guests while they recover.

Jane Allen summed up the quarantine issue for many, "We could even live with quarantine if we could keep our balcony room, but to be locked in a room where we could not have doors open would be too much."

CDC drops 14-day quarantine requirement after international travel | Royal Caribbean Blog

Dru Mason wrote, "I understand the reasoning behind moving positive cases to a deck specific to quarantine, however, I would be disappointed to lose my cabin."

Blanche Bryant wishes the quarantine process could allow for them to be in their own cabin, "I wouldn't mind the quarantine so much - if I could stay in my original cabin."

Read moreWhat happens after testing positive for Covid on Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Getting sick not high on the list

What happens when you test positive for Covid on Royal Caribbean | Royal Caribbean Blog

Actually catching Covid-19 as a concern ranked number 6 in the poll, which may be reflection of a cruise audience that is vaccinated (and possibly boosted), as well as perhaps the less-serious nature of the Omicron variant.

The surprising result in this poll for me was the fact having to get and pass a Covid-19 test before the cruise came in a close second in the results.

Pre-cruise test

You need to get a Covid test before your Royal Caribbean cruise 2 days, not 48 hours, before your cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

Anxiety among people that have a cruise and need to find somewhere to get a test done, and then hope no one tests positive, ranked high because that would put their entire cruise in jeopardy.

Tracie Rohner found getting a test for her unvaccinated child is a major challenge, "Getting my two year old a PCR test 3 days prior to boarding. It is so hard to get a child tested if they aren’t over the age of three. Local pharmacy will not test two year olds. "

Charleen Rader shared it's been difficult to get tests done with regularity, "We ran into problems getting tested, places are changing their policies almost daily about who they will or won't test, make an appointment and hope they follow through."

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: September 5, 2021 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Melissa Chin thinks the test coming back without feeling sick gives her concern, "Passing the test prior to boarding simply because of the potential of being asymptomatic. "

Mark Greenwald also thinks the potential for a last-minute cancellation because someone tests positive give him pause, "The pre-test is the most stressful."

"Knowing that all the excitement, anticipation, planning could be tossed out the winner 2 days prior, especially when there are flights, hotels, pet boarding involved, really ruins the excitement of the countdown. It's like a dark cloud."

Poll results

The poll was an interesting look in the different opinions on what worries cruisers the most. 

It seems the vast majority of respondents are planning to sail, but they certain think about potential pitfalls that could interrupt their vacation plans.

It's understandable why the answers were so widespread because how much of a risk there is will always subjective.

My first impressions of an Oasis-class ship

In:
17 Jan 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Today marks the start of a new adventure: my first Royal Caribbean cruise on an Oasis-class ship. I am onboard Harmony of the Seas this week for a 7-night Eastern Caribbean & Perfect Day cruise. Harmony of the Seas is currently, as of January 2022, the second biggest cruise ship in the world.

To say I was excited before the cruise is an understatement. After five sailings on Voyager, Freedom, and Quantum Class ships, I couldn’t wait to try out the ship class everyone talks so much about. As I planned my cruise, though, I wasn’t sure what I would think of Harmony of the Seas.

Read moreWhat's the differences between each of the Oasis class ships?

It seems many cruise fans love the Oasis-class because of the seemingly endless places to go and things to do onboard, but there are others who much prefer to cruise on smaller ships. Needless to say, I was ready to get onboard this morning and finally explore Harmony of the Seas.

First Impressions

The first difference I saw before boarding Harmony of the Seas was the amount of activities in the Cruise Planner. While all Royal Caribbean ships have an elaborate list of activities and events, I was shocked by the amount of programming listed in the Cruise Planner. From multiple dance classes per day to ziplining sessions and countless choices of live music, I was almost overwhelmed by options!

There is no shortage of things to do on any Royal Caribbean ship, but this is especially true on an Oasis-class ship.

When I got onboard, the first thing I noticed was that everything is bigger on an Oasis-class ship. The Royal Promenade is bigger, the spa is bigger, the pool deck is bigger, and even the elevators seem bigger!

I spent most of the day checking out venues that are only available on Oasis-class ships. First I tried a fresh smoothie at Vitality Cafe and later in the day I listened to live music at Jazz on 4. I always try to see the jazz shows on any ship, but having a special venue focusing only on jazz music is awesome! So far, it seems like there is something for everyone on Harmony of the Seas.

The sheer size of an Oasis-class ship really hit me, though, when I walked to the boardwalk. Seeing the ship’s aft split in two sides and the massive Aquatheater stage was unbelievable. I could not believe the scale of the ship and I found myself saying “Oh my gosh” over and over as I explored Harmony of the Seas.

Speaking of unbelievable, I had the chance to watch one of the ice shows, 1887: A Journey in Time, and it was also extremely impressive. The way that the show utilizes lights to create different scenes on the ice, such as traveling through space and being in the ocean, is unlike anything I have seen before.

While it's been a wonderful first day onboard, I cannot say yet whether I prefer the Oasis-class over another class of ship. Thus far in my cruising experience, I have not disliked any class of ship, but it’s hard to pinpoint which class is my favorite. The Voyager-class will always have a special place in my heart due to the fact that my first cruise was on Mariner of the Seas. That being said, I’ve also come to appreciate the expanded range of activities you will find in bigger ships like Odyssey of the Seas.

Harmony of the Seas is proving to be an incredible ship thus far, though, and I am excited to see what the rest of the week has in store.

The upcoming week

I will be staying in a balcony stateroom on this sailing. I had originally booked an interior cabin, but was upgraded to a balcony due to cabins being switched around due to distancing protocols. I’m definitely happy about the upgrade, and I even got $100 extra onboard credit for the “inconvenience”! Plus, it feels extra spacious after my small interior cabin on Independence of the Seas last week.

The only problem with having a balcony on a cruise with so much to do is that it is extremely tempting to spend the whole day relaxing on the balcony!

I will not be doing a live blog every day of this cruise, but will instead focus on highlighting activities, tours, and events throughout this sailing. Harmony of the Seas is set to visit St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Perfect Day at CocoCay this week. While I’m not sure we will make the stop to St. Thomas (several ships have been denied entry there recently), I am confident we will be able to make the other two stops.

Here are my plans for this cruise:

  1. Try complimentary onboard activities only offered on Oasis-class ships like the Ultimate Abyss, Zipline, and extra-high rock climbing wall
  2. Explore everything St. Maarten has to offer via a bicycle rental
  3. Try scuba diving for the first time in St. Thomas on the “Discover Scuba Diving” excursion

Read moreTop 25 free things you can do on Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class cruise ships

Covid protocols

As I am cruising in January 2022, things can be a bit unpredictable. Harmony of the Seas is operating at around 50% capacity with 2500 passengers onboard. So far the ship does not seem very crowded and everyone seems to be following mask protocols well.

There are a few changes to the week’s entertainment programming, though. Grease: The Musical will not be performed this week and only one Aquatheater show, Hideaway Heist, will be performed.  As of now it appears that both iSkate Showcase and 1887: A Journey in Time will be performed in Studio B.

Other than that, it appears that the Solarium Bistro is closed, and that only the bar at Sabor is open on this sailing. The Escape Room doesn’t appear to be open, either, but that has been the case on every ship I have been on since the restart.

While reading this may seem like a lot is closed onboard, it is just a tiny fraction of the venues available on an Oasis-class ship, so it is barely noticeable. I did plan to try Sabor, but I will have to do that on a future sailing.

Regardless, I feel safe onboard with the strict protocols in place and am looking forward to the rest of the week on Harmony of the Seas.

Spotted: Is Labadee closer to reopening?

In:
16 Jan 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

The rumor mill has been swirling lately with the unconfirmed possibility that Royal Caribbean's other private destination may reopen.

Royal Caribbean Blog - Unofficial blog about Royal Caribbean cruises

Labadee, a private destination in northwest Haiti, has been shutdown since cruises stopped in 2020. While Perfect Day at Cococay has reopened, Labadee has not and there has not been a great deal of detail as to why or when it might resume.

Up until now, scheduled visits to Labadee have been routinely cancelled and replaced with visits to other ports.

There are two new pieces of very circumstantial evidence that point to Labadee possibly welcoming guests back again sooner than later.

Friday Photos | Royal Caribbean Blog

First, Harmony of the Seas is scheduled to visit there next week when she sails on January 23, 2022. 

According to the Royal Caribbean app, Harmony is scheduled to visit Labadee on Day 5 of the sailing during her 5-night Western Caribbean cruise.

Of course, itineraries can change at any time.

Someone also shared a post on Facebook, claiming that the visit to Labadee is scheduled and that a "test cruise" is headed there on January 27th.

The other thing we spotted is Royal Caribbean is actively hiring for Labadee, posting on social media an opening for a Shore Excursions Manager to work in Labadee.

Royal Caribbean has made no announcement either way about Labadee reopening or not. 

Thus far, the only public comments have been made in emails to guests on booked sailings that have had to have their itinerary revised.

Labadee is a 260-acre private destination that Royal Caribbean has operated since 1986, and was visited by both Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises ships.

Challenges for Labadee

Labadee Guide & Tips | Royal Caribbean Blog

The exact reason why Royal Caribbean has not resumed visiting Labadee is not entirely clear.

Haiti has dealt with the assassination of its president, as well as a major earthquake.

The U.S. State Department lists Haiti as having a level 4 warning not to visit, which is the highest level of warning to avoid travel.

Should you expect cruises to visit Labadee?

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Labadee | Royal Caribbean Blog

It's still too early to tell what to expect for Labadee and when ships will visit there again.

Certainly ancillary evidence after months of little to no updates or information is a step in the right direction, but we still lack Royal Caribbean's confirmation.

For now, we will keep an eye on the situation and share any updates if the situation changes.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: January 16, 2022

In:
16 Jan 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Happy weekend! We hope you are enjoying a wonderful and relaxing weekend and managing to stay warm. Now it is time to sit back with a cuppa tea or java, and check out the latest in Royal Caribbean cruise news.

The cruise industry and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have had their ups and downs over the last two years, but the CDC Director was pleased with the work done by the lines.

At a U.S. Senate Hearing on Tuesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told Congress it will let the Conditional Sailing Order transition to a voluntary program. She also complimented the work done by cruise lines.

"I think the Conditional Sailing Order and the fact that the industry has stepped up and is now interested in doing and exceeding, as you know, the the compliance with the sail order without the order even necessarily needing to be in place, as is a real testimony to how well that has worked and how we've worked collaboratively with the industry."

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 437th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where Matt talks about what the cruise industry is doing in response to Omicron.

Bari Golin-Blaugrund from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) shares insight into what cruise lines are doing despite all the negative press, as well as discuss recent changes from the CDC.

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 RCB Video: How to get the cheapest cruise ship suite

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 — How to get the cheapest cruise ship suite — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

22 Do's and Don'ts for your Royal Caribbean cruise in 2022

 

 

I love sharing cruise tips, but this year there's a few things that you should really focus on when planning a cruise.

Cruise ships are sailing, and despite some hiccups,  there are a few important things you can do during this time to prepare for a 2022 spring, summer, winter or fall cruise.

Appropriately, I've come up with a list of 22 things you should know when planning a cruise in 2022.

What it's like on 4 cruises in a row during Omicron

You might not know it by reading the news, but lots of people are cruising and loving it. So much so, some people are going on multiple cruises in a row.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Greg is sailing on Freedom of the Seas for 5 consecutive cruises, and has completed the first four legs.

Greg shared what it's like to stay onboard a cruise ship right now after all those sailings.

Live blog from Independence of the Seas

Our editor just completed a 4-night cruise on Independence of the Seas, and shared what her cruise experience was like onboard.

Jenna's sailing visited Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay, along with plenty of fun onboard.

Check out all the daily posts from Independence:

Chill spots to get away from the crowd on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

In:
15 Jan 2022
By: 
Haley Mills

If you have ever watched a Royal Caribbean commercial, you know they are all about big, colorful fun! Their ships provide entertainment for people of all age groups, and it’s really hard to be bored on a cruise.

Sometimes when I watch one of those commercials, I think–”What about the people who aren’t in it for the big, loud experience?” Can you cruise as an introvert, or someone who needs quiet spaces, and still have a good time?

The answer is yes, absolutely!

I’m about as introverted as it gets. While I enjoy meeting or talking to new people, my energy level drains quickly and I need to recharge by finding quiet time by myself. Cruise ships can be intimidating for those like me, because there are so many people in a close area designed to be social. Seems pretty draining! But vacations are meant to be relaxing, so how do we keep our batteries from being zapped?

Choose your cabin accordingly

Category 2C Ocean View Stateroom with Large Balcony on Oasis of the Seas Photo Tour | Royal Caribbean Blog

While the general rule of thumb is that you probably won’t spend that much time in your cabin–if you're someone who needs to take time away from the crowd, your cabin is your safe zone.

Choose that zone carefully according to your needs. Do you want somewhere that is totally dark so you can escape and take a nap during the day? How about one that is as far away from the noise as possible?

Personally, if we are able to get a balcony right off Deck 8, that’s my preference, since we hang out the most in Central Park. I can scoot back home if I need a break, and I find the ocean very calming. Picking the right spot can be very helpful if you know you will need a place to come back to.

Find quiet places around the ship

Independence of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Sea Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

Believe it or not, there are quiet corners on even the biggest ships in the fleet.

When the crush of the crowd gets to be too much, grab a book and something to drink and take some time to recharge. Many of these spots are great for people watching too, in case you’d rather enjoy from afar.

Some of these locations vary by ship design, so we always take time on embarkation day to scope out our future hangs. 

Vintages

Ten Best Royal Caribbean Bars | Royal Caribbean Blog

Vintages Wine Bar is an introvert’s heaven. The lights are low, the music is soft, and the couches are comfy.

This is one of our very favorite places on Oasis Class ships, and we often become very close with the staff. For some reason, it’s near empty throughout the day, so if you’re looking for a quiet escape, Vintages is a good one.

This bar does get a little busy around dinner time, especially on Formal Nights, but even then the atmosphere is usually much more subdued than the rest of the bars.

Schooner Bar

Vision of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Schooner is another favorite of ours, though this last cruise I will say it was busier than normal during the day since it was a vaccinated-only location. It also is a trivia location on sea days, so pay attention to your Cruise Compass.

With those exceptions, though, Schooner is another great spot for quiet activity. On Oasis Class ships, it’s also a fantastic place for people watching, since it overlooks the Promenade.

Top 5 Harmony of the Seas bars and lounges | Royal Caribbean Blog

What makes Schooner special is its atmosphere. The nautical themed bar has little pods of cupped leather chairs that make you feel like you’re in your own little sitting room. I love taking my book and journal and hanging there for a few hours, but the tables also lend themselves well to crafting too, as there is lots of room to spread out.

There’s also usually at least one laptop counter, so if you need to work, this is a cool place to set up shop. Different ships have different Schooner setups–the one we saw on Navigator was really tucked away, back by the casino, and made for an even better introvert paradise!

Solarium

Anthem of the Seas Solarium | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you want peace, but still crave the sunshine, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Bypass the main pool deck and head to the Solarium. Again, Covid regulations made this area busier than usual on our last cruise, since it was a vaccinated only space. But I’ve been there on sea days where there's hardly anyone visiting.

The music is much more low key and soothing than the reggae and pop out with the main crush, and there are no kids under age 16 allowed in this area.

Top 10 Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas hidden secrets | Royal Caribbean Blog

The seating is much more comfortable as well–while there are plenty of the traditional sun chairs in here, there are also cushioned loungers and round covered daybeds.

Depending on the ship, you’ll find hot tubs and pools, even some shallow wading areas. You might have noticed a theme throughout this post, but I take my book here too–even in the pool! Yes I’m one of those people. Relax, unwind, and just enjoy the sunshine, without the dance party.

Central Park

Royal Caribbean's Central Park: Everything you need to know | Royal Caribbean Blog

Even though Oasis Class ships have the most people on board, they also have one thing that other ships don’t:  Central Park.

Nowhere else at sea can you step through a door into a garden filled with fresh air and birdsong. There are perfect little corners tucked away within the park, just as you’d expect, to duck into for some shade and a break. A few tables have checkers and backgammon printed on them.

In the evening, there is live music, usually of the softer mood. If I have to travel from one end of the ship to the other, I almost always choose to cross through Central Park, solely for the fact that it’s a bit of quiet and a quick recharge, even if I’m not stopping.

Honorable Mentions

Jewel of the Seas Photo Tour | Royal Caribbean Blog

There are two places I want to make sure to include, even though they aren’t on my own personal list:  The Library/Game Room and Vitality Spa. 

Most ships do have some kind of Library or Game Room. The ones I have seen are normally pretty plain. A few books, some tables. I’ll be honest, I haven’t spent a lot of time there. However, some people love that space for some true peace and quiet, because not a lot of cruisers even know that area exists. I’d love to hear in the comments from someone who does use this space, and how you use it! Do you have a favorite library, and what ship?

Top 10 Odyssey of the Seas hidden secrets | Royal Caribbean Blog

Vitality Spa is an Honorable Mention only because I haven’t splurged for a treatment myself. However, I know a lot of people who have, and they have told me that it is so relaxing! There are a variety of options, too, not just massages. They also have an incredible fitness center, if working out is more your jam! 

Cruising is often marketed as an extroverted vacation, but there are plenty of options for those of us who need to recharge our personal batteries. In my opinion, that’s just one more reason why it’s such a great vacation option–be active when you want to, and step away when you need to. Your travel partners can continue on with an activity, and you don’t have to have FOMO. Take a nap, read a book, work on your craft–then join them once you catch your breath.

How do you recharge? Where is your favorite “plug” on the ship?

Here's when Royal Caribbean will put more 2023-2024 cruises on sale

In:
15 Jan 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has released its deployment schedule of when it will put new summer 2023 - winter 2024 cruises on sale.

While some new itineraries were released in November and December, the bulk of the new itineraries are set to be released between February and April 2022.

Royal Caribbean posted the new deployment schedule for a variety of itineraries, such as Long and Short Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, cruises from the Northeast and more.

  • Week of February 21, 2022: Northeast
  • Week of February 28, 2022: Long Caribbean
  • Week of March 7, 2022: Short Caribbean
  • Week of March 14, 2022: Los Angeles
  • Week of March 28, 2022: Barbados & Panama
  • Week of April 4, 2022: Australia
  • Week of April 11, 2022: China
  • Week of April 18, 2022: 7-night Caribbean
  • Week of Singapore: Week of June 6

Keep in mind this deployment schedule is subject to change, and may end up being delayed.

If you missed it, here is a look at the 2023-2024 cruises already available to book now:

What is a deployment schedule?

Bahamas wants cruises to return to Nassau, not just private islands | Royal Caribbean Blog

The deployment schedule is when Royal Caribbean plans to release new cruises to book by the public.

At some point in that week, the new itineraries will go on sale.

This means at some point between Monday and Friday of that week, the new cruises will be loaded into Royal Caribbean's system to become bookable.

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Nassau | Royal Caribbean Blog

Typically, the new sailings start getting loaded into the system in the evening, and then fully available by morning of the next day.

A common mistake is for guests to read the date, and assume that will be the first day the sailings on on sale.

Why does it matter when Royal Caribbean releases new sailings?

Video: Is a suite on Royal Caribbean worth it? | Royal Caribbean Blog

Generally speaking, when a new sailing is released, this is one of the best times to book a cruise to lock in a low price.

Cruise ship pricing follows a supply and demand model, similar to airfare. When a new sailing opens up, all the cabins are available and that means price is low. As more and more people book cabins, supply goes down and that can drive the price up.

Booking first is also super important if you care about being in a specific cabin, especially suites.

While there are plenty of balcony and interior cabins on Royal Caribbean ships, suites and cabins in special areas (like the aft) are always in high demand. Securing one of these rooms early is important.

What you can do now while you wait

Royal Caribbean will cruise from California for the first time in a decade | Royal Caribbean Blog

While you wait the weeks and months until Royal Caribbean releases the new bookings, there are a few things you can do to prepare for when they become available.

It's a good idea to talk to your travel agent now to let them know you're interested in pricing something out when it becomes available.

Why you should take a cruise to Bermuda | Royal Caribbean Blog

By telling your travel agent now what you are considering, you might be able to get a head start on everyone else.

Researching the type of cabin you want, as well as what each type of itinerary offers can make the decision-making process later when the sailings open up much easier.

Planning on booking a cruise in 2023-2024? These posts will help:

Royal Caribbean cancels sailing on Independence of the Seas due to Covid-19

In:
14 Jan 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

One sailing of Independence of the Seas has been cancelled due to Covid-19.

Guests sailing on the January 22, 2022 2-night cruise were informed today about the cancellation.

In the email, Royal Caribbean says the cruise was cancelled, "as a result of ongoing Covid-related circumstances."

If you're wondering why one two-night cruise was cancelled, it may have to do with two chartered sailings that were scheduled to sail before and after it.

An 8-night charter cruise on Independence of the Seas was supposed to set sail on January 22 was cancelled as well.

The January 14 sailing of Independence of the Seas had been a chartered 8-night sailing, known as "The Super Cruise XIV", put on by Capital Jazz.

On the charter website, the group said their charter was cancelled on January 7, "The supercruise program scheduled for January 14-22, 2022 has been canceled due to the recently issued CDC level 4 alert for cruise ships."

It also appears the January 24 cruise was a charter that was cancelled. This was the K-Love charter cruise, scheduled for January 24 - 29, 2022.

According to the K-Love website, it was cancelled due to Covid concerns, "Unfortunately, the current health and wellness challenges make it impossible to deliver the K-LOVE Cruise experience at this time."

In the case of both charters, it appears the group organizing the cruises cancelled the sailing.

Independence is the latest cruise ship to be cancelled due to Covid-19.

Royal Caribbean cancelled sailings on 4 ships last week due to Covid-19 cases among the crew.

8 things to love about Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Crew members that test positive for Covid-19 are isolated and quarantined.

If a cruise ship has too many crew members that test positive, the cruise line pulls the ship out of service so that it can give the crew time to recuperate before restarting cruises again.

All cruise lines are working around the issues caused by Covid, as the Omicron surge has seen cases rise everywhere. Almost 900,000 people testes positive for Covid-19 in the United States on Thursday, which is almost 10 times the amount that tested positive a few weeks ago.

Royal Caribbean gets CDC approval for Independence of the Seas to sail | Royal Caribbean Blog

Unlike land-based businesses that have barely any health protocols, cruise lines have the most stringent and most scrutinized industry of all, reporting directly to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with their testing protocols and numbers.

Royal Caribbean, and other lines, require mask wearing, pre-cruise tests, and social distancing. All crew members are fully vaccinated, and all passengers 12 years old and older are required to be fully vaccinated.

Will my cruise be cancelled?

Independence of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean intends to sail as many of its ships as possible going forward, so you should plan on your booked cruise to happen until something changes.

Covid-19 is impacting all businesses in a way that it can wreak havoc on having proper staffing levels.

The bottom line is any scheduled cruises you have scheduled now are still planned to happen.

Royal Caribbean offering up to 35% off Cruise Planner purchases this weekend

In:
14 Jan 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering a potential discount on cruise add-ons, such as drink packages, shore excursions and more, with its new sale.

The "Rise to the Vacation" sale runs between  January 14, 2022 - January 20, 2022 and is valid on sailings between : January 18, 2022 - December 31, 2022.

Here is what is included during the sale:

BEVERAGE: Up to 40% off

  • Classic Soda Beverage Package: 30% off onboard prices.
  • Classic Soda Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Over 35% off onboard prices.
  • Spring Water Cans: 40% off onboard prices.
  • San Benedetto Water Cans: 40% off onboard prices.
  • Evian Water Bottles: 40% off onboard prices.
  • Deluxe Beverage Package: Discount varies by ship.
  • Deluxe Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Over 35% off onboard prices.
  • Refreshment Package: 30% off onboard prices

DINING: Up to 55% off

  • Unlimited Dining Package on 3N – 9N sailings: Discount varies by ship.

INTERNET: Up to 50% off

  • VOOM Surf + Stream Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship.
  • VOOM Surf Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship. 

SHORE EXCURSIONS: Up to 25% off

  • Shore Excursions: Discount varies by ship. 

ACTIVITIES: 20% off

  • All Access Ship Tour (excl. Grandeur of the Seas)

Is it better to book excursions through the cruise ship? | Royal Caribbean Blog

PHOTO PACKAGES: Up to 70% off

  • Photo Packages: From 5 - 100 Print and/or Digital Options: Discount varies by ship.
  • Photo Package: Private Photo Session: Discount varies by ship.
  • Photo Package: Picture This Private Studio: Discount varies by ship.
  • Photo Package: All Digital: Discount varies by ship.

Gifts & Gear: Up to 20% Off

  • Anniversary Decorations with Champagne
  • Happy Birthday Decorations with Chocolate Cake & Strawberries
  • Happy Birthday Decorations with Vanilla Cake & Strawberries
  • Inky Beach Set
  • Inky Beach Towel (TicTacToe)
  • Inky Travel Set
  • Red Wine and Cheese
  • Royal Caribbean Beach Towel
  • Strawberries with Champagne
  • White Wine and Cheese

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Sea Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

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Independence of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Perfect Day at CocoCay

In:
14 Jan 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Today is the last day of my cruise on Independence of the Seas and I cannot think of a better way to end my sailing than to spend the day at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Since the weather this week had not been ideal, I woke up this morning expecting cloudy skies, cold, and rain. However, when I walked out to the pool deck, sunshine appeared from behind the clouds! I immediately went back to my stateroom to grab my belongings and I disembarked the ship.

Independence of the Seas was docked next to Freedom of the Seas this morning.

The previous and only two times I have been to CocoCay, I spent the day at the Coco Beach Club. This time, however, I did not reserve anything and was excited to spend the day exploring other parts of the island.

First up was a brief walk to South Beach. South Beach was closed this summer, so today was my first time there. While it is “further” than other beaches on the island, it only took around ten minutes to walk there from the ship. You can also opt to take the free tram rides available on the island.

South Beach is to the east of the Coco Beach Club and offers a more relaxed environment to guests. There is a long stretch of beach, cabanas for rent, two bars, a Snack Shack, and sports area. While I just walked around briefly, I would definitely come back here to spend the day in the future.

Next up was Oasis Lagoon. Something I think is very helpful at CocoCay are the free lockers available throughout the island. As I am always carrying my camera equipment around, it is nice to have a secure place to store it while I go for a swim.

Lunch today was at Chill Grill. Before today, the only food I had tried on the island came from the Mediterranean-style restaurant at the Coco Beach Club. I was spoiled by endless hummus, pita, grouper, and chocolate-caramel brownies. Because of this, I wasn’t sure what to expect for CocoCay’s complimentary food options.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of food offered at Chill Grill. From salads to build-your-own tacos and standard American fare, there were more than enough options available.

By far the best part of my lunch, though, was my brownie sundae. A great food “hack” at Perfect Day at CocoCay is to take a brownie or cookie from the buffet and top it with ice cream. You can thank me later!

My next stop was Chill Beach. I think this may be my favorite beach on the island because it is, as the name implies, a chill place to spend the day. I went for a swim and the ocean temperature was not as warm as it had been in the summer, but was still comfortable.

The sunshine was very well welcomed after the past few days of clouds, and I had a really hard time getting out of my hammock to walk back to the ship. On my way back, though, I ran into a few cute and colorful iguanas!

For sailaway I headed to the Helipad. Even though the Helipad is one of my favorite places onboard, I had never watched sailaway from there. Tonight’s sailaway was during sunset and it was gorgeous! We had views of Freedom, Symphony, and Vision of the Seas as well.

Dinner tonight was in the Windjammer. The food quality in the Windjammer on Independence has been impressive. Tonight they had the most elaborate and beautiful spread of cakes and pies that I’ve ever seen!

I ended my cruise by walking a few laps on the Promenade Deck and it was a nice way to exercise while taking in the sea breeze. It also gave me time to reflect on the past four days.

Overall, I had a fantastic time this week on Independence of the Seas. I was a little nervous before the cruise due to recent Covid concerns and the fact that it was my first solo cruise. However, everyone followed protocols really well while onboard and I met so many kind crew members and passengers throughout this sailing.

I’m sad to disembark tomorrow, but on the bright side… I board Harmony of the Seas this Sunday!

Stray Observations:

Oasis Lagoon turned into a party scene today and was LOUD. While it was entertaining to people watch and listen to music, it is not the most relaxing environment compared to the quieter beaches on the island! This is something to consider if you are choosing between a cabana at the pool or at another location at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

With the sound of intense wind and nothing but darkness beyond the ship, the Helipad is kind of spooky at night! There were some nice views of the stars, though.

'They sensationalize it for a cheap headline': NCL CEO talks Covid impact with Dr. Gottlieb

In:
13 Jan 2022
By: 
Chantal McPhee

In a press conference today, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Chairman of the Council for Norwegian Cruise Line’s SailSafe program, & Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings President and CEO Frank Del Rio, provided an update and answered questions from travel agents relating to Omicron and the future of cruising.

This briefing comes just days before the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) expires on January 15. With this new phase, cruise lines will move from mandatory to voluntary protocols.

Noting the success of the cruise lines, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky expressed her approval of cruise ship performance under the CSO, saying "the industry has stepped up".

In a decidedly optimistic tone, Dr. Gottlieb, who is also co-chair of Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line’s joint Healthy Sail Panel, discussed a number of cruising topics especially as it relates to the spring and summer season. Here are some of the key points from the discussion.

Why is the cruise industry being singled out?

Carnival CEO: "By the end of this year, most, if not all, of our fleet will be in action" | Royal Caribbean Blog

An important part of the discussion today related to why the cruise industry is being held to a higher standard than other recreational activities such as theme parks, hotels or airlines.  

Dr. Gottlieb noted that cruising, unlike many other leisure activities, has testing, protocols and vaccinations requirements. It is a tightly controlled environment. When you go to a hotel or restaurant, there is no way to measure risk.

The cruise industry is the only one that has rigorous testing and reporting for Covid. Consequently, the media and some politicians grab hold of this, sensationalizing the issue. The companies’ commitment to health and safety has paradoxically provided the data and information to create fear in some cruisers' minds.

When will Omicron Peak?

Royal Caribbean says Omicron variant fears have only had a short-term effect on bookings | Royal Caribbean Blog

Dr. Gottlieb expressed his opinion that Omicron is currently peaking, especially on the East coast and more specifically, in some areas like New York, which may already be starting their decline.

There are some regions of the country, such as the Midwest and Southwest that are a little farther behind in terms of their curve and will peak in another 2-3 weeks.

This latest wave was very quick to spread and should have a similarly rapid pace in decline, which would be good news for consumer confidence and the cruise industry.

Omicron’s Decline and Other Variants

Royal Caribbean says Omicron variant fears have only had a short-term effect on bookings | Royal Caribbean Blog

“Pandemics don’t last forever” Dr. Gottlieb noted. And, while it is hard to predict the future, he said that the broad consensus among experts is that this is the last major wave of infection.

With a combination of immunity from previous infections, effective vaccines, boosters, added to a growing number of therapeutics being produced, the future looks much better.  Additionally, scientists are working on variant specific boosters that will help to restore protection against infection and transmission.  

Looking to spring, Dr. Gottlieb feels like the numbers will decline significantly. And at this point, if we see another variant, it should not be serious like Omicron.

What will Covid will look like in the future?

As we look further out, Coronavirus will become endemic, perhaps by fall, and will begin to act more like the seasonal flu showing up in late winter. In fact, it should be less virulent than the flu, as it will mutate less.

Continued improvements in medicines and greater immunity will mean that the virus will have less of an impact over the long term.

Foretelling the end, Dr. Gottlieb says it won’t end in a “giant bang, but rather a whimper”.

It is safe to travel this summer?

As part of the discussion, Mr. Del Rio inquired about cruising this summer to Alaska and Europe, adding that travel agents have been getting a lot of inquiries about these destinations. Dr. Gottlieb is confident about cruising this summer, and he is planning a cruise, along with his young children.

In terms of sailings, a yes to Europe, especially Western Europe as they have been following a similar pattern to the United States in this last wave. The numbers should be much lower by summer, as should be the case in Alaska.

There are a few areas of concern though. He is more cautious as it relates to regions with less immunity, either through lower spread or less effective vaccines. He cited possible concerns with developing nations who have not had the same access to vaccines, as well as  China, which has had far less infection outside of the area of Wuhan.