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Odyssey of the Seas construction photo & video update - November 23, 2020

In:
23Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

There are two new looks to share of Royal Caribbean's next new cruise ship, Odyssey of the Seas.

Right on schedule, the Meyer Werft shipyard has released a new webcam photo of the ship in hall 6.

November 23 photo

Meyer Werft updates a new photo around once a week with a look at the general progress being made.

For some reason, the webcam photo the last few weeks has seen more and more objects blocking the view of the cruise ship. AIDAcosma is under construction in hall 6 as well, and it appears the work on her is responsible for the increasingly hidden Odyssey of the Seas photos.

In addition, there is a new video update that shows off some of the top deck features that have arrived at the shipyard.

The video clearly shows the ship's funnel, Royal Caribbean logo, North Star and Ripcord by iFly housings on floating barges as they arrive at the shipyard.

Once complete, Odyssey of the Seas will join Royal Caribbean's fleet as the second Quantum Ultra class cruise ship and split her time between Europe and North America.

Odyssey will feature a number of firsts onboard, including the first Quantum Class ship with Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, a Playmakers Bar location in the SeaPlex, a revamped Adventure Ocean and two-level pool deck.

Read more5 ways Royal Caribbean's Odyssey of the Seas will be different from other Quantum Class ships

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: November 22, 2020

In:
22Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday! Temperatures may be dropping, but there is plenty of Royal Caribbean news to share. This is your weekly summary of all the Royal Caribbean news from this past week, perfectly fitted for your consumption.

This week's top story had one hundred thousand reasons why it was big news because Royal Caribbean is seeing strong demand for people volunteering for test cruises.

In less than a week, Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley shared on social media that Royal Caribbean has received over 100,000 people sign up as a volunteer for its test cruises through an online form.

The sign ups are for test cruises that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) require cruise lines to conduct prior to regular cruises being approved for restart in the United States.

On Thursday of last week, Royal Caribbean published an online signup form to allow anyone who is at least 18 years old to sign up after receiving thousands of inquiries from the public about how they could sign up to be a test cruiser.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 381st episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is available to enjoy, where Matt and Ashley take a deep dive into the CDC's requirements for cruises to be able to restart.

The CDC laid out 40 pages detailing what cruise lines have to do if they want to get approval to cruise again.  This week's podcast episode looks at the important information you need to know about these requirements.

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: 5 Positive signs that cruises are coming back soon!

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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 — 5 Positive signs that cruises are coming back soon! — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Royal Caribbean will finally offer cruises to Bermuda from Florida

If you have ever wanted to visit Bermuda on a cruise without going out of the Northeast, 2022 might be the year for you.

Royal Caribbean released its 2022 Caribbean cruises earlier this week, and included with the array of choices is a new itinerary that offers an overnight stay in Bermuda from Port Canaveral.

Mariner of the Seas will introduce sailings from Florida to Bermuda, which is something that has not been offered in any recent memory.

These 8-night cruises will include two days in Kings Wharf, before heading to Nassau for a late night stay and then a full day at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

CDC raises warning against going on a cruise ship to highest level possible

In:
21Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) raised its warning on Saturday to avoid going on any cruise ship because of "very high level of COVID-19".

The warning has gone from Level 3 to a Level 4 warning, and recommends avoiding any cruise ship (including river cruises) around the world. "because the risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high."

The CDC's 4-level system categorizes destinations, including international destinations and United States Territories, into the following four levels:

  • Level 4: Very high level of COVID-19
  • Level 3: High level of COVID-19
  • Level 2: Moderate level of COVID-19
  • Level 1: Low level of COVID-19

In addition to avoiding going on a cruise, anyone that does go on a cruise is recommended to get tested 3-5 days after your trip AND stay home for 7 days after travel. Even if you test negative, stay home for the full 7 days.

New Level 4 warning

Previous Level 3 warning

If you do not get tested, then the CDC recommends to stay at home for 14 days after the cruise completes.

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".

In order to raise a warning to Level 4, it has to have an incidence rate of more than 100 cases per 100,000 people over past 28 days.

Warning details

The new warning is described as the CDC recommending avoiding any cruise ship, anywhere in the world, because the risk is "very high".

The CDC also noted people with an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 avoid cruise ships.

Moreover, the agency says anyone with a cruise booked should reschedule their cruise to a future date.

If you do go on a cruise, the CDC makes the following recommendations:

  • Do not board a cruise if you are sick, if you know you have COVID-19, or if you were exposed to a person with COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
  • Discuss cruise ship travel with your healthcare provider. Older adults and people of any age with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk of severe illness if infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you. It’s important to do this everywhere—both indoors and outdoors.
  • Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when you are in shared spaces, including when using public transportation.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Do not travel if you are sick.
  • If you get sick with symptoms of COVID-19, stay in your cabin and notify the onboard medical center immediately.

Framework for cruises to resume remains in place

While the level 4 warning was issued today, the framework for a phased resumption of cruise operations is still in effect.

In late October, the CDC lifted the No Sail Order cruise ship ban and replaced it with the Conditional Sailing Order for Cruise Ships.

The CSO has three main phases:

  1. Testing and additional safeguards for crew members
  2. Simulated voyages to test cruise line ability to mitigate virus spread onboard
  3. Phased return to cruise ship passenger voyages

These phases are subject to change based on public health considerations and cruise ship operator's demonstrated ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk.

Healthy cruise plan

The entire cruise industry has adopted a broad new set of health protocols that exceed the rules and regulations imposed by other sectors of travel, such as calling for 100% testing.

The Healthy Sail Panel that created these new rules is chaired by Governor Mike Leavitt, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Recommendations include testing, the use of face coverings, and enhanced sanitation procedures on ships and in terminals. 

The Healthy Sail Panel identified five areas of focus every cruise operator should address to improve health and safety for guests and crew, and reduce the risk of infection and spread of COVID-19 on cruise ships:

  • Testing, Screening and Exposure Reduction
  • Sanitation and Ventilation
  • Response, Contingency Planning and Execution
  • Destination and Excursion Planning
  • Mitigating Risks for Crew Members

In each category, the Healthy Sail Panel created practical and actionable recommendations to address specific safety concerns. Among the recommendations are key strategies such as:

  • Taking aggressive measures to prevent SARS-CoV-2 from entering a ship through robust education, screening and testing of both crew and guests prior to embarkation
  • Reducing transmission via air management strategies and enhanced sanitation practices
  • Implementing detailed plans to address positive infection on board, including contingencies for onboard treatment, isolation and rapid evacuation and repatriation
  • Closely controlling shore excursions
  • Enhanced protection for crew members

Furthermore, the CDC has been made aware of the panel and even invited to observe the planning and creation of procedures.

Royal Caribbean's Black Friday 2020 pre-cruise planner sale

In:
21Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

In addition to Royal Caribbean's Black Friday sale on cruise fares, there will be an additional sale on pre-cruise purchases.

The Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals will be offered between November 25, 2020 - December 1, 2020 and is valid on cruised departing January 1, 2021 - December 1, 2021.

As is the case with any Cruise Planner sale, availability of offers varies by eligible ships and individual tours. Spectrum of the Seas sailings are completely excluded, as are charter sailings.

Remember, this sail does not begin until November 25, 2020.

Here is a look at what will be discounted during this Black Friday sale:

Beverage: Up to 50% off

  • Classic Soda Beverage Package: Discount varies by ship. 
  • Classic Soda Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: : Discount varies by ship.
  • Deluxe Beverage Package: Discount varies by ship.
  • Deluxe Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Discount varies by ship.
  • Refreshment Package: Discount varies by ship. 

Shore Excursions: Up to 50% off

  • Shore Excursions: Discount varies by ship. 

Internet: Up to 65% Off

  • The Key: Discount varies by ship. Excludes Majesty of the Seas and Spectrum of the Seas
  • 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.

Dining: Up to 55% Off

  • Unlimited Dining Package on 3N – 9N sailings: Discount varies by ship. Excludes Majesty of the Seas and Spectrum of the Seas
  • Chops Grill: : Discount varies by ship. Excludes Majesty of the Seas and Spectrum of the Seas

Gifts & Gear: 40% Off (excludes Voyager of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas)

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

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. 

Spa: Up to 30% Off

  • Services: Discount varies by ship.

To check if your sailing has this new offer available, log into the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's web site look for any available offers. Keep in mind that not all sailings may see the sale applicable, nor are all offers significantly cheaper than previously posted.

If you spot a better discount on something you already pre-purchased, you should be able to cancel the purchase and then re-purchase the same item under this promotion.

How to choose the right Caribbean cruise sailing

In:
21Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Caribbean cruises are some of the most popular types of cruises available, so how do you choose the right sailing for your family?

Royal Caribbean offers cruises to every corner of the Caribbean, and that means a lot of choices to consider. Eastern, Western, Southern or even Bahamas sailings are available year round on Royal Caribbean.

Regardless of which region of the Caribbean you pick, you will find beautiful beaches and warm temperatures. The region enjoys fantastic weather for an escape during all months of the year.

Before you book a Caribbean cruise, here is what you need to know about what each region is known for and what you should look for in a cruise.

Eastern Caribbean

Cruises to the Eastern Caribbean will take you to a wide variety of beautiful places to visit.

In fact, the Eastern Caribbean ports are best known for their beaches, with many cruises visiting different Virgin Islands, as well as the far reaches of the East Indies. 

The Eastern Caribbean is also home to very popular cruise ports, such as San Juan which offers rich culture and history among many different types of shore excursions.

If your cruise happens to visit some of the further out ports in the Eastern Caribbean, you will have the opportunity to see some of the more exotic cruise ports in the region. Usually cruises to this area require a longer sailing, but the scenery is among exquisite.

Top Eastern Caribbean ports

  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Philipsburg, St. Martin
  • Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Read more: Things to do in Old San Juan

Western Caribbean

The Western Caribbean is filled with some of the friendliest people you will find, with some lovely ports of call.

Many Western Caribbean cruises will visit at least one port in Central America.  Cozumel, Progreso, Costa Maya, Belize or Roatan are very popular cruise ports and offer some the widest variety of things to do.

Not only do Western Caribbean cruises have beautiful beaches, they rich history and cuisine of the area stand out as favorites. The Western Caribbean is also where you will find the rich history of Maya, with Mayan ruins available to tour in the mainland ports.

In addition to the mainland, ports in Jamaica and Grand Cayman round out a good variety of port visit options.

Whereas the Eastern Caribbean tends to be a bit more "beach day" heavy than the Western Caribbean, you will find a great deal of fun activities for all ages (including going to the beach).

Top Western Caribbean ports

Read more: Fun things to do on a cruise to Mexico

Southern Caribbean

If your goal is to find the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, look no further than the Southern Caribbean.

Islands in the Southern Caribbean have some of the best variety of water color, temperature, and clarity that you will find in the entire region.  Moreover, the Southern Caribbean is almost always quite warm, with temperatures dropping rarely below the 80s Fahrenheit.

Since the Southern Caribbean islands are a bit further away from the United States than other parts of the Caribbean, the ports you visit will seem a little less built up and less crowded.

The Southern Caribbean ports also tend to retain more of their European influences than other Caribbean islands.

Cruises to the Southern Caribbean tend to mostly sail from San Juan, Puerto Rico, although Royal Caribbean does sometimes offer longer sailings from Miami.

Top Southern Caribbean ports

  • Oranjestad, Aruba
  • St. John's, Antigua
  • Willemstad, Curacao

Private destinations

In addition to the different Caribbean islands you will visit on any of these cruises, Royal Caribbean will also mix in visits to one of its private destinations.

These ports are only open to Royal Caribbean cruise ships, and it offers a relaxing and fun beach day where the cruise line takes care of just about everything.

Most of each destination is included in your cruise cost, although there are some extras you can opt to purchase to enhance your visit.

Perfect Day at CocoCay

The crown jewel of Royal Caribbean's private islands is Perfect Day at CocoCay in The Bahamas. Royal Caribbean recently upgraded the entire island and enhanced the offerings from end to end.

Guests can choose between a variety of beaches, the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean, water park and even a private beach club.

In short, CocoCay stands out because of the variety of choices that appeals to just about anyone and any age.

Available on Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises.

Labadee

Located in Haiti, Labadee is a private enclave where you can kick back with a relaxing beach day.

While Labadee does not have all the bells and whistles of CocoCay, it delivers exactly what most cruisers want: a slice of paradise with relaxing beach choices, coupled with add-on excursions if you wish.

Labadee is best known for the Dragon's Breath zip line, which is a 2,600 foot zip down a flight line at speeds that reach 40-50 mph.

Available on Western Caribbean cruises.

Which Caribbean cruise should you choose?

Ultimately, there is no bad choice to be made, and the decision boils down to what type of vacation you are leaning towards.

Any of the regions of the Caribbean offers its fair share of beautiful Caribbean beaches, and you are splitting hairs about which beach looks more pristine than the other.

The Western Caribbean offers more history and Mayan culture in Mexico and surrounding areas.

You might pick the Eastern Caribbean if you prefer beaches over port exploring, as well as if you are looking for a Caribbean cruise longer than a week.

The Southern Caribbean is stunning, but it will almost certainly require you to fly to Puerto Rico to begin your cruise, which can be a dealbreaker for some people.

More Caribbean planning articles:

Royal Caribbean announces Black Friday cruise deals

In:
20Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Attention Black Friday shoppers, here is what Royal Caribbean has in store for guests next week.

Royal Caribbean's Cyber Week Sale will run between November 24 - December 1, 2020 and offer a bundle of savings, with up to $550 off cruise fares.

The cruise line will change the name of the promotion over the course of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but the promotional offer is the same for each named offer.

Royal Caribbean Black Friday 2020 details

Dates: November 24, 2020 – December 1, 2020

Instant Savings up to $400 per stateroom on select sailings departing on or after January 1, 2021.

  • Sailings 5 nights or less, $75 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $100 for Balconies and $200 for Suites
  • Sailings 6 nights or longer, $100 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $150 for Balconies and $400 for Suites
  • Instant savings do not apply to China departures

November savings up to $150 instant savings:

  • Sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and Suites
  • Sailings 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies, and $150 for Suites

60% off second guest: 60% off second guest when booking a cruise departing on or after January 1, 2021

Kids Sail Free: Kids Sail Free provides free cruise fare for 3rd guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger as of cruise departure date, booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests in a triple or quad-occupancy stateroom.

  • Kids Sail Free applies to select 3-night or longer Alaska, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean, CaribNE, Coastal, Europe, Hawaii, and Repositioning sailings departing between December 1, 2020 – December 17, 2020 and January 8, 2021 – December 17, 2021.
  • Offer excludes 2021 President’s Day Sailings (Sailings between February 12 – 15, 2021), 2021 Spring Break and Easter sailings (Sailings between March 13 – April 4, 2021), 2021 Thanksgiving Sailings (Sailings between November 19 – 26, 2021), SR and RD Cruisetours.

BOGO60 and Kids Sail Free + Summer are combinable with each other as well as promotional OBCs, NextCruise o­ffers, instant savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven o­ffers, Free Upgrades, Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Cyber Week Sale is combinable with BOGO60 and Kids Sail Free + Summer as well as with promotional OBCs, NextCruise o­ffers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven o­ffers, Free Upgrades, Shareholder Benefits, but not combinable with Crown and Anchor discounts. Resident rates apply to select states on select sailings; valid address must be entered at time of booking to redeem savings. O­ffers are not combinable with any other o­ffer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, and Net Rates. Promo Code driven o­ffers are based on select ships and sail dates and must be applied at time of booking; limit one promo code per booking. 

Offer available to residents of United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and select countries in the Caribbean. 

What you should do right now to prepare for Black Friday

If you are looking over this Black Friday offer and thinking it sounds like a great deal, you should still book something right now.

One of the best strategies for saving money on a cruise is to book early and re-price it if there is a price drop.

Booking a cruise today will lock in the current price.  When the Black Friday sale begins next week, if there is a better price, you can have the cruise repriced for you under the Best Price Guarantee.

Up until Final Payment date, you can reprice the price of a cruise as many times as you want if you happen to spot a lower price.

With the enhanced Cruise with Confidence program, this opportunity is available to all guests, not just North Americans.

By booking a cruise now, you can ensure you have the lowest price.  If the price on Black Friday is lower, you can reprice at the lower price.  If the price happens to go up, you already locked in the lower rate and are set.

The strategy of booking early and then taking advantage of price drops ensure you always have the lowest price, as opposed to trying to time a price drop later (which may or may not happen).

How to check if the price is lower

The most straight forward method for seeing if there is a price drop is to go to Royal Caribbean's website and do a mock booking. 

Be sure to go through as much of the checkout process as you can to ensure you are comparing exactly what you have booked, as things like cruise fare (refundable vs non-refundable), gratuities, taxes and other fees may not be levied until later in the checkout.

Another option is to let you travel agent handle this for you.  Some travel agents (the really good ones) will take it upon themslves to check for lower prices on behalf of their clients.

I recommend this travel agency for booking a Royal Caribbean cruise, and they will reprice for you during sales like this. If you are not convinced using a free travel agency right for you, read this post discussing the benefits travel agents offer.

Key West ban on large cruise ships officially becomes law

In:
20Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

The City of Key West officially certified the results of a recent referendum that limits cruise ship traffic to Key West.

The residents of Key West voted on November 3 to approve three proposals that would effectively ban large cruise ships from Key West, and the results of the voting were certified this week by Monroe County Supervisor of Elections R. Joyce Griffin.

The voter-approved amendments to the City Charter have now been authenticated by Mayor Teri Johnston and filed with City Clerk Cheryl Smith.

The final tally for the three new laws of Key West are as follows:

Limiting persons disembarking from cruise ships to 1,500 per day.
YES: 8,186 (63%)
NO: 4,743 (27%)

Prohibiting cruise ships with a capacity of 1,300 or more persons.
YES: 7,852 (61%)
NO: 5,087 (29%)

Prioritize cruise lines with the best environmental and health records.
YES: 10,587 (81%)
NO: 2,453 (19%)

The group behind the proposal, Key West Committee for Safer Cleaner Ships, celebrated the certification with its backers and vowed to defend the new laws against any legal challenges, "After 30+ years of rising dissatisfaction with the effects of unregulated cruising, the people of Key West have spoken loud and clear.

"And while we expect corporate powers to challenge the new laws in court and in the monied halls of Tallahassee, one thing is certain: the City Commission now has an unquestionable mandate to defend this legislation against any and all opponents."

How will this affect Royal Caribbean cruises?

The newly certified laws will prohibit any Royal Caribbean ship from being able to visit Key West, since the capacity of even the smallest Royal Caribbean International ship exceeds the prohibition set forth by the prohibition on a ship with a capacity of more than 1,300 passengers.

The bigger question is what legal hurdles will these new laws face, as even the Safer, Cleaner Ships organization recognizes private businesses in Key West (such as the owner of the pier) may challenge these laws.

A few Royal Caribbean ships were small enough to dock in Key West, such as Brilliance of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas.

There has been no official word on what might happen to these itineraries, and if visits to Key West will be replaced by another port visit or a sea day.

In 2019, Key West had its busiest year with 417 cruise ship visits that brought 965,000 passengers.

Cruise fans not happy with new laws

Cruise fans that enjoyed being able to visit Key West on a cruise without the long drive from Miami shared their displeasure with the new laws on the RoyalCaribbeanBlog message boards.

karl_nj lamented that he may never visit Key West as a result of the laws, "I had always wanted to visit Key West, but never got around to it.  I figured visiting via cruise ship would have been my best bet; i don't really envision myself flying to Florida, renting a car, and driving all the way down to Key West.  Oh well,  plenty of other places to visit and spend money."

FManke was surprised any city would want to turn away business given the current economic climate, "With what's going on these days and the uncertain future, I can't see anybody turning away business."

Six big questions Royal Caribbean has not answered yet

In:
19Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

There is plenty of uncertainty about Royal Caribbean cruises and their restart plans, but besides when cruises might resume, there are some questions cruise fans have been asking for a while without any clear answers.

Of course everyone wants to know when cruises will be able to restart, but an explanation of some other major concerns is among the most frequently asked questions.

Here are the top six questions we are all waiting on Royal Caribbean to answer.

What are all the new rules for cruises in North America and Europe?

Before Royal Caribbean can restart cruises, they have to announce all the new rules and protocols we can expect for cruises sailing from North America or Europe.

There are new rules announced for Quantum of the Seas cruises from Singapore, but the cruise line has not yet announced changes for other markets.

Just yesterday, Royal Caribbean's Public Health & Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Calvin Johnson said the cruise line is still working on converting the Healthy Sail Panel recommendations into rules.

"The way that we at a Royal Caribbean group have moved to operationalize those has been through creating very, very specific and detailed operational protocols, how we will do things as a cruise line in order to make sure that we're focusing on those safe aspects and those elements that will help make cruising safer."

Dr. Johnson said Royal Caribbean came up with 122 specific protocols and almost 300 specific policies, but the public is curious what all of these changes will be exactly.

How will Royal Caribbean select volunteers for test cruises?

Ever since Royal Caribbean began taking sign ups for volunteers for its test cruises, the most frequently asked question is how volunteers will be picked.

In just over a week, Royal Caribbean has gotten over 100,000 people sign up to help test out the cruise line's new rules, but there has been absolutely no indication how volunteers will be chosen.

The only requirement listed when signing up was you had to be 18 years old.

Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed, said that test sailings will be conducted with a combination of Royal Caribbean employees and volunteers, although they are not sure how volunteers will be picked yet.

What  is the status of delayed ship upgrades and new Perfect Day islands?

The combination of the voluntary cruise shutdown and billion dollar loses each of the last few quarters meant Royal Caribbean had to cut out capital spending, which has left many questions surrounding the status of these projects.

Scheduled upgrades to four Royal Caribbean ships remaining in the Royal Amplified program, as well as the future of Perfect Day at Lelepa and upgrades to Labadee remain ambiguous at best.

Royal Caribbean has not said much about these projects since announcing it could cut capital spending projects.

Prior to the shutdown, Royal Caribbean had announced a new Perfect Day island in the South Pacific, confirmed upgrades to Labadee, and announced new port projects in Antigua, Freeport and Nassau.

Which ships will sail first?

No one knows when cruises will restart, and Royal Caribbean has not even divulged which cruise ships will start first.

The cruise line has confirmed whenever cruises do start up again, the entire fleet will not begin at once.  Rather, a few ships will begin sailing and other ships will come back into service at a later time when it is practical.

Royal Caribbean has not announced which ships might start up first, only hinting "Deployment of spring is expected to be highly focused on short sailings from key drive markets in both the U.S. and Asia-Pacific regions."

Will future cruise credits be extended?

As the cruise shutdown drags on, the window of opportunity to redeem a future cruise credit becomes smaller and smaller.

Every future cruise credit has an expiration date, and as of this week, all Future Cruise Credits will expire no sooner than December 31, 2021

What happens if this shutdown goes continues on? What about newly announced 2022 cruises? Will Royal Caribbean extend FCCs to provide more time to use them?

Will cruises still be fun after all of these changes?

This may seem like a silly question, but there is merit in wondering how all of the changes will impact the onboard experience.

Objectively speaking, new protocols and rules will change aspects of the cruise.  That does not mean every change is a bad change, but cruising will not be the same when it restarts as it was before cruises shutdown.

The answer to this question will vary from person to person, and it is not specifically a concern Royal Caribbean can answer to everyone's satisfaction. 

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said during a conference call with investors in August. "We will not rush to return to service until we are confident that we have figured out the changes that we must make to offer our guests and crew strong health and safety protocols with the enjoyable experience that they rightly expect."

What are you still wondering?

There are plenty of unanswered questions, and I will certainly do my best to share answers here as soon as I get them.  

It is important to note that Royal Caribbean is not ignoring these concerns. This is uncharted territory, and they are taking things one day at a time in order to best deal with the changing landscape of the cruise business.

Do you have questions about the short-term future that Royal Caribbean has not answered? Ask them in the comments!

Royal Caribbean extends ability to cancel cruise for a credit until January 31, 2021

In:
19Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced it will give guests more time to be able to change their mind about canceling a cruise at the last minute.

Royal Caribbean has extended its Cruise with Confidence cancellation policy to now include sailings through January 31, 2021.

The popular program allows guests to cancel a cruise for any reason up to 48 hours before a sailing is scheduled to depart in exchange for a future cruise credit. Today's announcement means an additional two months of flexibility for guests.

It was scheduled to end on November 30, 2020 prior to the extension.

In addition, the Lift and Shift option will be extended to January 31, 2021.  Lift and Shift allows guests to defer their cruise by a year.

The Cruise with Confidence program was introduced at the beginning of the health crisis, and provides significantly relaxed rules concerning canceling a cruise if the situation changes for a guest.

Ordinarily, guests would incur a penalty for canceling 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.

Instead, Cruise with Confidence gives passengers booked on-or-before January 31, 2021 the option to cancel Royal Caribbean sailings scheduled to depart through April 2022.

All active bookings confirmed on-or-before January 31, 2021 for Royal Caribbean sailings through April 2022 (excluding Chartered sailings) are included in the Cruise with Confidence program.

Royal Caribbean Group chairman and CEO Richard Fain thinks this extension makes a lot of sense for guests, "We want our guests to feel they can safely keep their existing cruise bookings or schedule new sailings, because this policy gives them more freedom and flexibility."

How does Cruise with Confidence work?

Ever since Royal Caribbean shut down cruises in March, it has offered guests increased flexibility in being able to change their minds due to the fluid nature of news and the global health crisis.

Essentially, Cruise with Confidence is the name of the program that allows guests to change or cancel a cruise up to 48 hours before their sail date with no penalty or change fees.

Guests can opt for a 100% Future Cruise Credit that is good for 12 months or more, or defer their cruise by a year.

Today's change means Cruise with Confidence is applicable to guests booked on-or-before January 31, 2021 on sailings departing through April 2022. This encompasses essentially all Royal Caribbean sailings available to book currently.

The program includes refundable and non-refundable cruise fares, and only excludes chartered sailings.

It is important to note that if you elect to cancel a cruise on your own with this program, and later Royal Caribbean cancels the sailing, you waive any right to receive any refund oft he cruise fare paid.

Royal Caribbean will finally offer cruises to Bermuda from Florida

In:
19Nov2020
By: Matt Hochberg

If you have ever wanted to visit Bermuda on a cruise without going out of the Northeast, 2022 might be the year for you.

Royal Caribbean released its 2022 Caribbean cruises earlier this week, and included with the array of choices is a new itinerary that offers an overnight stay in Bermuda from Port Canaveral.

Mariner of the Seas will introduce sailings from Florida to Bermuda, which is something that has not been offered in any recent memory.

These 8-night cruises will include two days in Kings Wharf, before heading to Nassau for a late night stay and then a full day at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Here is a list of the Bermuda cruises available on Mariner of the Seas:

  • May 15, 2022
  • May 28, 2022
  • June 5, 2022
  • August 21, 2022
  • September 3, 11, 2022
  • October 8, 16, 2022

Traditionally, Bermuda cruises are only offered from ports in the Northeast, such as New York or Baltimore.

These new cruises are available to book immediately, and part of Royal Caribbean's summer 2022 deployments that were just announced. The cruise line will announce its remaining Caribbean summer 2022 deployment early next year.

More summer 2022 cruises

In addition to the Bermuda sailings, Royal Caribbean highlighted a number of new cruises available to book across six ships in total.

Symphony and Harmony of the Seas will sail Eastern and Western Caribbean 7-night itineraries from Miami and Port Canaveral, respectively.

New for 2022, Symphony will double the number of Eastern Caribbean sailings and tout evening stays in Puerto Rico on select cruises throughout the summer. Harmony will visit island gems such as St. Thomas, St. Kitts & Nevis, and Falmouth, Jamaica, as well as Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Oasis of the Seas will return to Cape Liberty, New Jersey to offer 7-night cruise vacations to Florida and The Bahamas. She also has a cruise to Canada mixed in.

Explorer of the Seas will sail from Miami to offer alternating 8- and 6-night itineraries to the Western and South Caribbean.

Liberty will continue to homeport in Galveston, Texas and offer 7-night Western Caribbean itineraries to the beautiful beaches of Belize City, Belize and Cozumel, Mexico.

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