Crew members can now disembark cruise ships in port during their time off once again.
One of the many Covid-19 protocols on cruise ships prohibited crew members from visiting ports of call, but that rule has been changed.
Ovation of the Seas crew member Chris Wong shared a video update recently that crew members are getting once again free flow.
"We have just been told that we are officially getting once again free flow surely for crew members, which means we can go back out into port, just like it was pre-pandemic days."
"Since the restart, crew shore leave or any crew members to go out into port was not allowed."
He explained that small changes were made over the last few months, but it just wasn't the same, "towards the end of last year, they slowly started allowing crew to get off again. But it was a very it was in a very controlled environment. These were bubble tours. So it wasn't really the same thing. And to be honest, it wasn't that much fun."
Mr. Wong cited a crew newsletter email that explained the new policy, "we're thrilled to announce that our shore leave pilot was a success. And beginning May 1st, free flow shore leave will be extended to all ships and participating ports of call."
"As we ease back into free flow, capacity limits of 250 crew per port will be implemented."
Mr. Wong added that the updated policy excludes turnaround ports, which do not have capacity limits.
Mr. Wong was visibly excited for the change because being limited to staying on the ship during a contract meant missing out on some real fun that one can have while working on a cruise ship, "this is certainly a lot better than how it used to be."
"I cannot wait to just visit the first port of call wherever it will be, to walk off the gangway and to just be able to walk around wherever I want and not, you know, having to think, oh, am I allowed to go there?"
"This is a really big deal for us crew members."
Royal Caribbean has been slowly relaxing certain protocols for crew members and guests alike.
Following the Omicron variant, Royal Caribbean began to slowly open up shore leave for crew members in February. This week's update follows up on that initiative even further.