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Royal Caribbean will stream virtual variety show on Friday

In:
13Aug2020
By: Matt Hochberg

While there may be no Royal Caribbean cruises to sail on, you can still enjoy some of the very same onboard entertainment from the comfort of your home.

Royal Caribbean's entertainment team is putting together a collection of popular onboard acts, including American acapella group MO5AIC, British ventriloquist Paul Zerdin, duo Gold Art, acrobats from the Ukraine and more.

Royal Caribbean is calling it the "Very Virtual Variety Show", and hosting the live performance will be Senior Vice President of Entertainment for Royal Caribbean International, Nick Weir.

"Anyone who thought that that just kind of misses the environment, misses cruising and in particular misses the entertainment at Royal Caribbean International, we're going to do something special," Mr. Weir said about the the idea behind the show.

"Kind of a bit of a cross between a podcast, and a talk show, and a variety show. And it's all very virtual and it's going to be great fun."

You can catch the event live on Royal Caribbean's Facebook page on Friday, August 14 at 5 p.m. EDT.

This is another online event held by Royal Caribbean during the global cruise shutdown. In June, Royal Caribbean streamed a virtual concert performance that was traditionally shown in Two70 on its Quantum Class ships.

The Virtual Concert featured Santa Fe and the Fat City Horns. High resolution video footage of that performance was captured on five 4K cameras to create a truly unique, immersive experience.

Royal Caribbean FAQ

In:
13Aug2020
By: Matt Hochberg

If you have a Royal Caribbean cruise booked, or are thinking of booking one, then you probably have a lot of questions.  

Even the most seasoned cruisers will have a query or two, so I have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about Royal Caribbean.

Hopefully these will save you time later and put your mind at ease with what to expect on your cruise.

Booking a cruise

When should I book a cruise?

If you want to get the best possible price on your cruise, then you should try to book as soon as you can.

Ideally, you can take advantage of lower prices by booking a cruise 12, 18 or even 24 months in advance so that you can find the best cabin selection and lowest prices.

Once a sailing is open for booking, you may reserve a cabin at any point all the way until the week of the sailing.  Of course, capacity is limited and options will dwindle while prices rise over time.

How do I get the best deal on a cruise?

There are a few good strategies for getting the best price on a cruise and spend less overall.

Cruising on the cheap means looking beyond the obvious choices for a cruise. Here are a few good ways to save money:

I also recommend working with a good travel agent to not only find the best pricing, but to help answer common questions and concerns. A good travel agent should cost you nothing to use, and they are very helpful in scenarios you never even imagined.

The ships

Which is the best Royal Caribbean cruise ship?

While this is a common question, the best cruise ship depends on what you want and like for your cruise.

Each ship offers different activities, amenities, entertainment and special features. The key is finding the ship that offers the right combination of these that appeal to you, while also sailing to the places you would like to visit.

Some important considerations you should look at in any ship is what it offers in:

  • Kids Programming
  • Signature activities (waterslides, Broadway shows, thrill attractions, open spaces, et al)
  • Where it is sailing

What are the different classes of Royal Caribbean ships?

Royal Caribbean categorizes its cruise ships into classes, similar to auto manufacturers creating different models of cars.

There are eight different Royal Caribbean ship classes, and within each class there can be a differentiating options and add-ons that make ships different from each other.

The Oasis Class ships are the largest ships in the world, while the Quantum Class offer some of the latest innovations with a large size as well.

The Freedom and Voyager Class ships are a generation older, but are still large cruise ships that have recently been upgraded as part of the Royal Amplified program.

The Radiance and Vision Class ships combine a small size with many activities that have been added over the years. These are stylish ships that offer a refined and fun cruise atmosphere.

Majesty & Empress of the Seas are the oldest ships in the fleet, but they offer a more intimate setting than other larger classes.

Packing

What should I pack for my Royal Caribbean cruise?

We all know that feeling... you are getting ready for your vacation, but you cannot shake that feeling that you are forgetting something.

You should begin with personal items that you will need during your cruise, such as medications and prescription medicine.  It is a good idea to pack extra medicine in case of a travel delay getting home.

Onboard the ship, you will need not outfits and clothes for time onboard, on shore, in the pool, and out for dinner. If you are cruising to the Caribbean, Mexico or other warm weather destinations, bring a hat for protection from the sun. If your cruise vacation will take you to Alaska, Canada & New England or Northern Europe, be sure to pack a jacket and several sweaters.

Be sure to pack a bathing suit, but you will not need towels as you can borrow them from the cruise line anytime you want.

What are dress codes?

The dress code rules for Royal Caribbean provide dress suggestions for the three types of dress codes onboard: casual, smart casual and formal.

  • Casual: You’re on vacation – relax! Jeans, polos, sundresses and blouses are all the right amount of laid back. Please keep swimwear to the Pool Deck. Shorts are welcomed for breakfast and lunch.
  • Smart Casual: Think of this as a step up from your typical dinner wear. Dress to impress with collared shirts, dresses, skirts and blouses, or pantsuits. Jackets, sports coats and blazers are snazzy and welcomed. 
  • Formal: Make it a night out in your best black-tie look – suits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses or evening gowns. There can be 1-3 formal nights during a sailing and is at the ship’s discretion.

In practice, dress codes are infrequently enforced by the main dining room staff. 

If you are asking does everyone dress up to that extent, the answer is a resounding no. If you walk the Royal Promenade or around the Centrum of a Royal Caribbean ship around dinner time on formal night, you will spot plenty of people dressed to these specifications, but many opt for a more casual (but still dressed up) approach. Collared shirts with no jacket or tie for men, or blouses and skirts or leggings for ladies is common as well.

There can be 1-3 formal nights during a sailing and is at the ship’s discretion.

Dining

What dining options are included on my cruise?

Every Royal Caribbean ship offers a combination of complimentary and extra-cost dining choices. Keep in mind there is a great variety of complimentary dining choices that will cost you nothing extra.

Full meals for breakfast, lunch (on sea days) and dinner are available in the main dining room, as well as the Windjammer buffet.  Depending on the ship, there are also complimentary grab-and-go dining choices you can go to for a snack or even a meal.

You also have the choice of specialty restaurants that cost extra, but offer different cuisines and atmosphere not available elsewhere on the ship.

What if I have special dietary requirements?

Royal Caribbean is very accommodating when it comes to guests who have special dietary needs. The cruise line can handle a number of requests, such as food allergies, Gluten-free, Kosher, Low-fat, and Low-sodium.

Vegetarian Meals (including Indian-style vegetarian) are available on all menus in the Dining Room and Windjammer Cafe every day. Guests do not need to make a special request for these meals.

Lactose-free/soy milk, Ensure, and kosher meals are available no extra charge. All you have to do is notify Royal Caribbean at least 45 days prior to sailing (90 days for European/South American Itineraries).

For any and all dietary requests, contact your travel agent or Certified Vacation Planner and request that the remark be noted in your reservation details. If you made your reservation online at royalcaribbean.com you may add your request to the "update personal information." section. You may also send an e-mail request to [email protected]; please include in the e-mail the guests' names, booking number, ship name and sail date. E-mails will receive an automated response. 

Drinks

What drinks are included with my cruise?

Royal Caribbean provides all its guests on all its cruise ships a few different drinks throughout the day that are included in your cruise fare.   These drinks include

  • tap water
  • milk
  • tea
  • coffee (regular and decaf)
  • lemonade
  • iced tea
  • flavored waters
  • juices (at breakfast and not fresh squeezed)
  • Hot chocolate (via instant packets)

These drinks are available throughout your cruise at a number of locations, so there will always be somewhere to get something to drink for free.

Other beverages, such as beer, wine, soda, espresso and bottled water cost extra.

Is a Royal Caribbean drink package worth it?

A very popular choice for guests who want to enjoy unlimited extra-cost beverages for a fixed cost is to buy a drink package.

There is no denying that a drink package has the potential to save money, but it depends on how you maximize its value.

If you can drink enough every day of the cruise, want to sample a wide variety of beverages, and like the convenience it offers, then a Royal Caribbean drink package is definitely worth it.

You do not need to get a drink package, but for many guests, the ability to lock in the price of a drink package and enjoy unlimited drinks without concern of spending too much is a very popular incentive.

Costs

What is included in my cruise fare?

A cruise remains a really good vacation value, especially when you factor in meals and entertainment.  Over the years, Royal Caribbean has realized some of its guests prefer to add onto the core experience, and began offering more options to tack onto their vacation.

Your cruse fare includes some basics:

  • Entertainment & Nightlife
    • Broadway shows
    • Live music and comedy shows
    • Aqua shows and ice-skating shows
    • Parades and parties on the Royal Promenade
    • Comedy and live jazz club
    • Nightclubs, karaoke and sing-along piano bars
    • Lounge games and contests, such as trivia, Battle of the Sexes and more
  • Signature Activities
    • FlowRider® surf simulator
    • Rock Climbing Wall
    • Quantum Class
      • RipCord® by iFLY® skydiving simulator
      • North Star observation capsule
      • SeaPlex play space with bumper cars, roller skating, trapeze school, video games and more
    • Oasis Class
      • Zip Line
    • Multi-level waterslides and slides on select ships
  • Meals, beverages & room service
    • Main dining room
    • Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in various venues throughout each ship
    • Windjammer casual buffet on every ship, open for every meal
    • Variety of juices, teas, coffees, soft drinks and water throughout the ship and with meals
  • Kids & Teens
    • Adventure Ocean Youth Program
    • DreamWorks Experience
    • Fuel teen club
    • Teen lounge area with movies, games and live DJ
  • Fitness Center & Sports Activities
    • State-of-the-art fitness center
    • Table tennis
    • Full-size basketball and sports court
    • Group fitness classes, such as sunrise stretch, fab abs, dancing, meditation and more
    • Seminars on topics like weight loss, reflexology, stargazing and more
    • Deck Games — Volleyball, pool games, tug of war and other active challenges
    • Running / jogging track
  • Pools & Outdoor amenities
    • Outdoor poolside movies
    • Adults-only Solarium
    • Multiple whirlpools
    • Traditional swimming pools plus beach ambience areas and sports zones
    • H2O Zone and Splashaway Bay for kids

Royal Caribbean cruises are not all inclusive, but you can certainly go your entire cruise without spending anything extra.  

Royal Caribbean has designed its ships to be "modular", where you can choose to add certain extras if you prefer.

Are shows included on Royal Caribbean?

The stage shows, and so much of the live entertainment onboard, is included with your cruise fare.

Royal Caribbean is known for its Broadway shows, as well as original productions found in various theaters around the ship. These are all included in your cruise fare.

Other activities and events, such as trivia, game shows and dance classes are also included.

Sometimes Royal Caribbean may offer an experience or backstage tour that costs extra, but these are not required to experience the performances.

Important rules

What you aren't allowed to bring onboard

You should be aware there are some important rules about what you cannot bring on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

For the safety and well-being of all guests, certain items are prohibited from being brought onboard.

Prohibited items that may not be brought on your cruise include:

  • Firearms & Ammunition, including realistic replicas.
  • Sharp Objects, including all knives and scissors. (Note: Personal grooming items such as safety razors are allowed. Scissors with blade length less than 4 inches are allowed.)
  • Illegal Drugs & Substances
  • CBD Oil / CBD Products
  • Candles, Incense, Coffee Makers, Clothes Irons, Travel Steamers & Hot Plates. (Items that generate heat or produce an open flame. This includes heating pads, clothing irons, hotplates, candles, incense and any other item that may create a fire hazard. NOTE: The only exception to this policy are curling irons and hair straighteners. Matches and normal lighteners are allowed onboard. However ""torch lighters"" and novelty lighters that look like guns are not allowed onboard. Torch lighters emit a powerful concentrated flame, and therefore are prohibited.
  • Hoverboards
  • Martial Arts, Self Defense, and Sports Gear, including handcuffs, pepper spray, night sticks.
  • Flammable Liquids and Explosives, including lighter fluid and fireworks.
  • Hookahs & Water Hookah Pipes.
  • HAM Radios
  • Baby Monitors
  • Electrical Extension Cords
  • Dangerous Chemicals, including bleach and paint.
  • Perishable Food & Meat Products
  • Alcoholic Beverages (except two bottles of wine on embarkation day)

These and other similar items will be confiscated upon being found. Alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, flammable liquids, explosives, and dangerous chemicals will not be returned.

You cannot share drink packages

Let me be perfectly clear: it is absolutely forbidden to share the Royal Caribbean drink package benefits with anyone else. Period.

Royal Caribbean warns that guests who share a drink with someone who does not have a drink package can risk having their drink package benefits revoked with no refund.  

The package is intended for only the guest who buys the package.  If you want to buy a drink for someone else, you can do so and pay for it individually along side your drink package transaction.

Kids

What's available for kids on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

The heart of Royal Caribbean offerings for kids is the Adventure Ocean program, which offers supervised programming for children of nearly any age.

Nurseries are available on most ships for toddlers 6 months to 36 months old, where parents can drop children off throughout the day and evening. Use of the nursery comes at an hourly charge. Young children can enjoy soft play areas and age-appropriate toys, as well as cribs and cots for napping or sleeping.

For children 3 years old through 11 years old, Adventure Ocean is available for no additional cost every day of your cruise. There's a lot for kids to do here and the programs specialize for each age group.  It's a mix of learning, play time and socializing.

Kids are checked in and out by parents and it's fully supervised by Royal Caribbean staff. The requirement for children to participate is to be at least 3 years old and be fully potty trained.  There are after hours programs offered as well in Adventure Ocean for an hourly fee if parents want their kids to have supervision later into the evening.

The teens club is for older kids through 17 years old, which is about empowering teens to do their own thing but still offer activities and fun events to help introduce everyone.

There are teen-only spots onboard the ship where they can come and go as they please. Each day there are teen only events planned in the Cruise Planner, where teens can have dedicated time to enjoy special activities. 

WiFi

Is internet access available on Royal Caribbean?

All Royal Caribbean ships offer internet at sea access for an additional cost.

Royal Caribbean calls its internet service "Voom", and it relies on satellite technology for staying connected.

Depending on the ship, the actual speeds and performance will vary. On Oasis and Quantum class ships, you can easily stream video from services like Hulu or Netflix, or engage in Facetime and Skype video calls.

Some other ships, notably Royal Caribbean ships that spend time outside the United States, the speeds may not be quite as fast, but fleetwide, the Voom service is significantly better than onboard internet available through other cruise lines.

How much does WiFi cost?

The cost of a Wi-Fi internet package varies depending on the number of devices and the service package purchased. 

Royal Caribbean offers unlimited plans that can be purchased onboard the ship or pre-purchased prior to the cruise. 

Without a doubt, you will save money by pre-purchasing your Voom internet package via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.

Prices begin at $15.99 per device, per day for 1 device on the Surf (slower) access plan, and $19.99 per device, per day for 1 device on the Surf & Stream (faster) access plan.

Still have a question?

If you still have a question, or are unsure about something mentioned here, be sure to ask a question on our message boards!

Bahamas wants cruises to return to Nassau, not just private islands

In:
13Aug2020
By: Matt Hochberg

The Bahamas Tourist Minister wants cruise ships to not only visit private islands, but the major cities of the Bahamas as well.

Dionisio D’Aguilar told Tribune Business that cruise lines will initially only visit private islands in order to limit exposure risks, but he hopes once the new policies are in place, cities can be visited too.

Obviously when they start cruising again they will not want to come to the population centres,” he conceded. “They will want to go to their private islands because they can control the environment. As minister of tourism I’m going to encourage them to come to the population centres because that’s where they will make the most economic impact.

Mr. thinks a 3-night cruise that includes a stop in Nassau, along with a private island is a great short sailing opportunity.

According to Mr. D’Aguilar, cruise passengers account for 11% of pre-pandemic tourism spending in The Bahamas, which amounts to $540 million in lost revenue for the country.

The thought that cruises will resume with short sailings to private islands echoes comments made by Royal Caribbean, including CEO Michael Bayley just last week.

"I think when we resume service, our thinking is that will probably we'll probably start with short product, Perfect Day, and that'll be the how we'll start phasing in operations."

Royal Caribbean is considering extending Future Cruise Credits

In:
12Aug2020
By: Matt Hochberg

With so many guests having a future cruise credit (FCC) now from cancelled cruises, some guests are curious if the expiration date will be extended.

Future Cruise Credits are issued at the time of cancellation to be used within a certain timeframe, but with more and more cruises being cancelled, there is concern guests might run out of time to redeem them.

During a travel agent webinar, Royal Caribbean spoke on this topic after the question was raised.

Royal Caribbean Director, Post Cruise Guest Relations & Shared Services, Laly Rodriguez,said Royal Caribbean is looking at this issue, but has not made a decision on it yet.

"We have been looking at that in plenty. The reason I started looking at that is because some of our Pinnacles are starting to say, 'Hey, I have all these future cruise credits and it seems like I'm not going to have enough time to use them.'"

"We're reviewing, discussing, and while we don't have an answer yet, we're keeping that top of mind to make sure that everybody has ample time to use them."

Lots of guests have taken FCCs

Since the global cruise suspension began, many guests have opted to take Future Cruise Credits, even in lieu of a refund. The bonus 25% credit for opting for a FCC when Royal Caribbean cancels a cruise has been a lucrative option.

During Royal Caribbean Group's earnings call with investors on Monday, it was revealed the company has about $900 million in future cruise credit value, with about 40-45% of those being non-refundable.

A Future Cruise Credit from a cancelled cruise must be redeemed on-or-before December 31, 2021 on a Royal Caribbean International sailing through April 2022.

Odyssey of the Seas lifeboats delivered to shipyard

In:
12Aug2020
By: Matt Hochberg

New photos shared online show the new lifeboats for Odyssey of the Seas on their way to the shipyard.

Unimedien shared photos and even a video of lifeboats being delivered for Royal Caribbean's next new cruise ship.

The lifeboats were moved from the Fassmer shipyard in Berne, Germany through the Küstenkanal canal to the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.

On June 30,  Royal Caribbean announced Odyssey of the Seas will be delayed until April 2021, when she will begin sailing in Rome.

The cause of the delay is a combination of the global health crisis, delays in the supply chain, and fires at the shipyard compounding other shipyard issues.

Odyssey of the Seas will be Royal Caribbean's second Quantum Ultra Class ship and will come in at 168,000 gross-tons.

Royal Caribbean Group announces new $700 million loan

In:
12Aug2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Group announced on Wednesday it has gotten a loan facility from Morgan Stanley for $700 million.

If Royal Caribbean elects to use the loan, it will bear interest at Libor plus 3.75%, and will mature in 364 days. The purpose of the loan is to help pay for "general purpose corporate purchases".

The Company has the ability to increase the capacity of the facility by an additional $300 million from time to time subject to the receipt of additional or increased commitments and the issuance of guarantees from additional subsidiaries of the Company. 

Prior to taking this loan, Royal Caribbean Group reported on Monday that it had $4.1 billion in liquidity, has debt maturities of $300 million in 2020 and $1.3 billion in 2021, and estimated a monthly cash burn rate of $250 million to $290 million.

Royal Caribbean said it is considering ways to further reduce its average monthly cash burn under a further prolonged out-of-service scenario and during re-start of operations.

Perella Weinberg Partners LP served as financial advisor and Skadden Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP served as legal advisor to the company in connection with the term loan facility.

Royal Caribbean: We're doing that without relying on the US government

In:
11Aug2020
By: Matt Hochberg

With the United States Congress mulling over stimulus and economic relief ideas, the cruise industry is already planning to go without any federal assistance.

In an interview with CNBC, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain was asked if his company was willing to change being incorporated from Liberia to the US in order to increase the chance of getting financial relief.

Mr. Fain flat-out rejected the notion, saying that Royal Caribbean Group is, and has, been working to stay solvent without any financial assistance from the United States.

"We started with a strong balance sheet. We've taken a lot of steps to improve our liquidity. We've taken a lot of steps to bring our costs under control," Mr. Fain said bluntly. "It's a very painful process we've gone through."

"But we're doing that without relying on the US government. We're doing that on our own."

There was speculation that perhaps cruise lines, which have been hit hard by the global health crisis, might qualify for bailout money to remain operational.

Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines were subject to the same speculation in March 2020, when the first round of federal money was given out to boost the economy, but they were ultimately not included.

Royal Caribbean Group, the parent company of Royal Caribbean International, is incorporated in Liberia.

Where Royal Caribbean cruising is right now - August 2020

In:
11Aug2020
By: Matt Hochberg

With so much happening in the cruise industry, it is easy to overlook the many changes, rumors, and announcements made during this time.

So if you are looking for an easy way to keep up with what is happening with Royal Caribbean now, as well as what is coming soon for cruises to restart, here is a monthly look at the state of Royal Caribbean affairs.

This ever changing landscape makes it difficult to keep track of what is happening with Royal Caribbean today, and what the near-future looks like for cruising.

No cruises until at least November

Royal Caribbean cruises have been shut down since mid-March due to the global health crisis, and there is no end in sight when sailings may actually return.

As of right now, most Royal Caribbean cruises are cancelled through October 31, 2020, with a new target date of resuming operations on November 1, 2020 (more on that later).

There are two notable exceptions to these cancellations:

  • China itineraries are cancelled through September 13, 2020.
  • Australia itineraries are cancelled until mid-October.

Guests on any of these cancelled sailings were given the option of getting a 100% refund, 125% future cruise credit, or even moving the reservation to next year at the same price.

While these cancellations have new dates when sailings are expected to resume, more cruise cancellations are very possible due to regulatory and legislative challenges that arise. 

Why can't cruise ships sail?

Cruise ships have been prohibited from sailing due to health concerns and government regulations.

The spread of COVID-19 on a worldwide scale resulted in Royal Caribbean voluntarily shutting down its operations until it was safe to resume sailing.

In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a No Sail Order to the cruise lines, which means cruise lines may not resume sailings until at least the end of September.

The No Sail Order requires all cruise line operators to submit a plan to assure passenger and crew safety from COVID-19.

Many countries around the world have also banned cruise ship (and other discretionary travel), which compounds the issue of a cruise ship resuming operations.

No plans to sell ships yet

One of the hottest rumors circulating these days are the fate of Royal Caribbean's fleet of ships and if any of them will be sold in order to save money.

With Royal Caribbean losing billions of dollars and other cruise lines selling some of its ships, there has been rampant speculation that Royal Caribbean may do the same.

Thus far, that is not the case, as Royal Caribbean International has said they have not sold any of its ships, although they are evaluating the possibility.

Royal Caribbean Group Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty told investors, "we are evaluating opportunities to to sell ships or to take other actions with ships."

"We're valuating all all options, but of course, we've put a lot of money into these ships. These ships do exceptionally well, and so it's a difficult decision to depart with ship because they generate so much cash."

New health protocols and policies

In order to keep guests as healthy as possible, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have collaborated to create the Healthy Sail Panel.

This collective of health and government experts are tasked with creating a plan to address different health protocols aimed at making cruise ships as safe as possible in a world dealing with a global health crisis.

This group is comprised of top experts in public health, infectious disease, biosecurity, hospitality and maritime operations in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The panel will spend the next few months working on a set of health protocols that encompass the entire cruise vacation, and then provide these recommendations to the public. Royal Caribbean will then take these recommendations and apply them to the cruise line, and submit it to the CDC and other regulators for approval to return to service.

Royal Caribbean says it intends to adopt the panel’s recommendations as well as the CDC standards across the global fleet.

In addition, Royal Caribbean created a new role of Chief Medical Officer and hired Dr. Calvin Johnson to be a point man for the fleet's health initiatives.

The panel hopes to provide initial recommendations to the cruise operators by the end of August. Until then, we do not yet know what specific changes will be made, although we have gotten a few hints, such as social distancing and onboard testing.

Flexible cancellation options

If you want to look for a silver lining to all of the cancellations and health issues, it has been Royal Caribbean has unveiled its most generous ability to cancel a cruise.

Known as the Cruise with Confidence program, even if Royal Caribbean has not cancelled your cruise, you have the option of cancelling your cruise up until 48 hours before you sail date with no penalty at all (even if you booked non-refundable cruise fare).

Cruise with Confidence is applicable to guests booked on-or-before September 30, 2020 on sailings departing through April 2022. This encompasses essentially all Royal Caribbean sailings available to book currently.

If you take the Cruise with Confidence offer, 100% of your cruise fare will be converted into a future cruise credit to be used on a future sailing.

The bottom line is any cruise booked today has a great deal of flexibility to be able to cancel later, which has alleviated many guests of concern they are not sure about booking cruises months from now.

When will cruises resume?

It is unclear when exactly cruises will start again because of the uncertain nature of the health crisis, along with changing regulations.

Royal Caribbean has no firm plans yet, but there is a possibility cruises could start up in places like China or Australia first later this year.

Until Royal Caribbean receives the Healthy Sail Panel's recommendations, gets approval from the CDC, and announces a firm plan for when cruising will resume, there is no way to know exactly when cruises will start back up again.

The current date of November 1, 2020 is a moving target, and should not be viewed as the "gospel truth" until there is a more firm announcement.

You might have to take a COVID-19 test to go on a Royal Caribbean cruise in the future

In:
11Aug2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Taking a test for COVID-19 before you get on a Royal Caribbean cruise might be one of the many steps the cruise line takes to keep guests safe once cruises resume.

During Royal Caribbean Group's earnings call with investors, a Wall Street analyst asked is if Royal Caribbean will follow other cruise lines in Europe and test guests before boarding.

Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley answered that it testing of guests is "very likely" to occur.

The Healthy Sail Panel of health experts is currently working on an approach to address the many concerns guests may face once cruises start again, and their initial findings are expected by the end of August.

Mr. Bailey said that while the recommendations of the panel are not available yet, he did say testing will be part of it.

"Testing is part of the thinking that we have not yet reached a point in our protocols where we're ready to publish and release for for discussion," Mr. Bailey started, "But it's very likely that testing will occur."

He also noted that in addition to the cruise industry, several countries around the world are using testing as a requirement for entry, including in the Caribbean.

There was no indication yet of whether guests, crew, or everyone on the ship would be tested, but that is likely to be part of the Healthy Sail Panel's recommendations when they are published.

With some ships beginning to sail limited cruises in Europe, it is a good test for the industry.

"We're very engaged in what's happening and we're obviously receiving a lot of feedback. It's a great learning experience for for the industry in terms of what's occurring with regards to the protocols."

"I think certainly testing seems to be very relevant and discussions are underway."

Royal Caribbean thinks a lot of people want to go on a cruise next year

In:
10Aug2020
By: Matt Hochberg

If there was an over-arching theme to Royal Caribbean Group's earnings call on Monday, it was the notion that its customers want to cruise as soon as it becomes available again.  

The phrase "pent up demand" was used a number of times throughout the call to characterize what Royal Caribbean sees as a public that wants to make up for lost vacation time in 2020 due to the current global health crisis.  

Over the course of the hour-long call, the phrase "pent up demand" was used five times.

Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley was the first to bring it up, saying it was a combination of a reflection of bookings and personal belief.

"I'm kind of hopeful that we're going to see a lot of pent up demand. And certainly when you look at our bookings by quarter in '21, there's a lot of activity as we move into the summer."

"And I think a lot of people have written off this summer. They've decided that there's not going to be a big summer vacation for all of the reasons that we know. But people certainly want to have a vacation next year."

 

The notion of this built-in demand has made up for a lack of direct advertising that has been cut out since the start of the shutdown.

Royal Caribbean Group Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty saw an upward trend into mid-2021 of increased bookings.

"You see this kind of line as you kind of get into the early to mid part of the second quarter, where there's just strong demand for for the season and beyond. It's almost as if the consumer has somewhat kind of focus on that's when it will be. It will be time for them to to deal with this pent up demand that Michael had had talked about."

Willingness to pay more

Not only are consumers eager to cruise again, they are willing to pay more.

Cruise line executives talked how pricing for 2021 cruises is averaging higher than 2020, and people are still paying it.

"There's strength in the Caribbean, European products, Alaskan products and so forth," Mr. Liberty said,  "So it's not just one thing, but it's it's really clear as we get kind of mid to two and beyond that, there is there's high demand and our consumers are willing to pay at or above the historical level."

"The patterns that we're seeing is with strength and our guests are willing to to pay more than what they paid for same time last year in 2019."

This phenomena is also in part because guests have an extra 25% future cruise credit to spend, and Mr. Liberty believes this may slow down once the FCCs start being used up.

How many people have used their FCCs?

There was an interesting breakdown at the end of the call about how guests are using their future cruise credits, and the breakdown of customer deposits on hand.

Royal Caribbean indicated they have $1.8 billion in customer deposits. Mr. Liberty said about $900 million of that is in FCCs, and about 40-45% are non-refundable FCCs.

"And so far there's been about a third of those [125% non-refundable credits] FCCs that have been applied, " Mr. Liberty noted, "there's been about about 20 percent [Cruise with Confidence credits] that has been applied to date."

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