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Top 10 Royal Caribbean news stories of 2020

22 Dec 2020
Matt Hochberg

This has been the craziest year for the cruise industry ever, and there were plenty of headlines that got plenty of attention.  So what were the biggest stories of the year?

This past year has been a "tale of two cities", with traditional cruise news in the very beginning, and then of course the rest of the year was a myriad of shutdown updates.

Looking back on the year, I handpicked the top stories that I thought generated the most buzz and interest among cruisers, and the general public. Let's dive in!

10. Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas sold

Royal Caribbean just announced it sold two cruise ships last week, and it was a big enough deal to make the list of this year's top Royal Caribbean stories.

After months of speculation, Royal Caribbean announced it has sold its two oldest cruise ships, Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas.

It appears the ships have been sold, but not scrapped.  Royal Caribbean says they now belong to an undisclosed party, based in Asia-Pacific, that will release details for future sailings at a later time.

9. Cruise lines vs. the CDC

Since the cruise industry voluntarily shut itself down in March, it has been at odds with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over how and when cruises would resume.

In the 9 months since the industry shutdown, the CDC has raised its anti-cruise rhetoric by warning the public against taking cruises.

Between special travel warnings and summaries in the various No Sail orders, the agency regularly told people not to go on a cruise anywhere in the world, "because the risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high."

The CDC has warned the public against taking cruises since March due to the global health emergency, but has steadily increased its warnings from an alert, to a watch, to a warning and now simply a "Very High Level of COVID-19".

The CDC did rescind its cruise ship ban at the end of October, although there has been little to no progress in cruise lines moving towards sailings restarting.

8. Key West voted to ban most cruise ships

Unfortunately the residents of Key West voted to approve a referendum to prohibit large cruise ships from visiting their island.

Three different referendums to limit cruise ship traffic passed, which will ban large cruise ships completely, as well as limit small cruise ship traffic.

All three were approved by majorities of more than 60 percent, with the "giving priority to cruise lines that have the best environmental and health records" proposal passing at over 80%.

7. Introducing the electronic muster safety drill

Perhaps the best innovation to come out of this year was a new cruise ship safety drill that relies on technology.

Known as Muster 2.0, Royal Caribbean revealed its plans to implement a new way to conduct the mandatory guests safety drill, known as the muster drill. 

With Muster 2.0, the new tech will be used to help provide the information to guests via their mobile devices and interactive stateroom TVs.

Travelers will be able to review the information at their own time prior to setting sail, eliminating the need for the traditional large group assemblies. 

6. Cruise with Confidence

Another good change for consumers was the introduction of the Cruise with Confidence program, which allows for last-minute cancellations without penalties.

If a guest cancels under the policy, they will receive a full credit for their fare, usable on any future sailing of the guest's choice.

This includes refundable or non-refundable cruise fares.  You are able to take advantage of either booking type with no penalty or change fee for opting into the Cruise with Confidence program.

5. Coco Beach Club opens

The year 2020 started off well when the final piece of Perfect Day at CocoCay opened to the public.

The exclusive Coco Beach Club opened to guests at the end of January, which offers an oceanfront infinity pool, upgraded cuisine and the only floating cabanas in the Bahamas. 

Plus, there is a complimentary restaurant at Coco Beach Club featuring lobster, snapper, and steak— plus a buffet of soups, salads, and starters. 

Entry to the Coco Beach Club requires an additional cost. Guests can choose between a day pass to the Coco Beach Club, as well as the option to reserve a cabana or floating cabana.

4. Royal Amplifications postponed cruise ships until further notice

The financial impact of the cruise industry shutdown forced Royal Caribbean to postpone its scheduled ship refurbishments until further notice.

Royal Amplifications for four cruise ships are on hold, including Allure of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.

Guests on affected sailings will be notified directly more details and options available.

3. Freedom of the Seas completes $116 million Royal Amplification

Perhaps the last hurrah of cruising before everything shutdown, Freedom of the Seas wrapped up a massive shipwide upgrade.

The ship underwent a bow to stern makeover, with new features being added including water slides, a new Caribbean pool deck look, the cruise line’s first Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and new, dedicated spaces for kids and teens. 

Freedom of the Seas was able to offer one sailing before the rest of cruises for the year were cancelled.

2. Royal Caribbean asks for volunteers for test cruises

Royal Caribbean got an incredible amount of attention when it announced they would take sign-ups from the public to be a volunteer for a test cruise.

The cruise line has a form set up for adults only (18 years or older) to enter basic information about themselves.

While Royal Caribbean is working with the CDC to determine how the test sailings will operate, they have decided to begin gathering information from those who have shown interest.

1. Royal Caribbean cancels all cruises beginning in March

Without a doubt, the biggest story of the year was when Royal Caribbean cancelled all of its cruises due to the global health crisis.

At first, it was just for 30 days, which was big enough news in and of itself.  However, the shutdown went on to extend longer than anyone would have thought in March.

As of the writing of this post, cruises will not be able to restart until March 2021 at the earliest.

Your thoughts

What did you think was the biggest Royal Caribbean news of 2020? Did we miss one? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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