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Grandfather pleads guilty in death of toddler who fell from a Royal Caribbean ship

In:
15Oct2020
By: Matt Hochberg

The man who dropped his granddaughter from the window of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship pleaded guilty to negligent homicide.

Salvatore “Sam” Anello of Valparaiso changed his not-guilty plea in order to put the case to rest.

“This decision was an incredibly difficult one for Sam and the family, but because the plea agreement includes no jail time and no admission of facts, it was decided the plea deal is in the best interests of the family so that they can close this horrible chapter and turn their focus to mourning Chloe and fighting for cruise passenger safety by raising awareness about the need for all common carriers to adhere to window fall prevention laws designed to protect children from falling from windows,” Family attorney Michael Winkleman told media outlets following the guilty plea was entered by Anello.

In July 2019, 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand fell to her death after her grandfather dropped her from an open window on Freedom of the Seas.

Sentencing for Anello will take place on December 10, 2020.

Defense attorney Michael Winkleman said in a statement that Anello will not face any jail time and that he will serve probation in Indiana.

Puerto Rico prosecutor Laura Hernández said, "We have found justice for Chloe."

According to the maternal grandfather's testimony, Chloe asked be raised up by her grandfather. He put her on a rail by a window, thinking the glass would hold her. However, the window was open.

Royal Caribbean said that surveillance video shows Anello leaning out the window for about eight seconds before lifting the girl by and out of the open window for 34 seconds before he lost his grip. 

There is a civil case against Royal Caribbean that is still ongoing.

The current litigation against the cruise line from the family centers around why the window was left open.

“We are deep into the process of discovery in the Civil case having already taken several depositions and numerous upcoming depositions including the Captain of the ship. Sadly, all of the discovery and evidence taken so far in the case confirms that this was a tragic, preventable accident and that there are absolutely no grounds to bring criminal charges against Sam Anello,” Family attorney Michael Winkleman wrote.

Royal Caribbean has moved for the lawsuit to be dismissed, noting Mr. Anello was "reckless and irresponsible" in her death.

“His actions, which no reasonable person could have foreseen, were reckless and irresponsible and the sole reason why Chloe is no longer with her parents,” the cruise line said, according to the Indianapolis Star.

“This is a case about an adult man, who, as surveillance footage unquestionably confirms: (1) walked up to a window he was aware was open; (2) leaned his upper body out the window for several seconds; (3) reached down and picked up Chloe; and (4) then held her by and out of the open window for thirty four seconds before he lost his grip and dropped Chloe out of the window,” Royal Caribbean said in its legal motion.

Top 10 most surprising new cruise health protocols

In:
15Oct2020
By: Matt Hochberg

If you are anything like me, you have been combing over all the new health protocols and rules Royal Caribbean intends to add for guests once they go on a cruise.

Many of these rules are not that different from new regulations added to land-based experiences we are all adjusting to, but a few of the new rules are still somewhat surprising.

I picked out a few of the new protocols that stood out as either different than I was expecting, or perhaps intriguing as a new policy overall.

Order drinks using QR codes

In order to reduce contact between crew and guests, you will be able to to view menus on your phone and order drinks digitally.

This sort of smart enhancement combines convenience and social distancing, and it also means not having to try to find a waiter to take your order.

Face masks are required in all areas of the pool deck

Perhaps the most surprising protocol is that guests will have to wear masks while outside around the pool deck.

While masks do not have to be work in the pool or hot tub, if you are sun bathing or otherwise lounging around the pool deck, a face mask will be required to be worn.

Specifically, face masks are required in all areas of the pool deck unless you’re in the water, where you should continue to observe physical distancing.

For the outer decks, Royal Caribbean says, "On Singapore cruises, face masks are required on the outer decks, except while riding the FlowRider." Whether or not that refers to a change in policy for cruises elsewhere remains to be determined.

Need to wear face masks while waiting in line for water slides

The logistics of this rule are going to be interesting to see, but if you are in line for the FlowRider or waterslides, you will have to wear a mask.

Since you cannot carry the mask with you down the slide or while on the FlowRider, there must be a means of retrieving it after the experience is complete.

Private appointments for shopping

Shops onboard cruise ships will have limited number of shoppers at once, and will offer private appointments by request.

It is not clear if private appointments will be available for every shop, or just the high end stores.

Complimentary face mask and hand sanitizing gel

Under the stateroom protocols, Royal Caribbean says it will offer complimentary face mask and hand sanitizing gel upon your arrival into your room.

Of course, you will need a face mask in the cruise terminal and elsewhere leading up to getting to your room, but there may be alternative mask options provided by the cruise line.

Contactless room service

Another change to the old ways of doing things, room service delivery will be contactless.

Instead of the room service crew member entering your room and bringing you the food, they will drop it off, similar to how food delivery has changed on land.

No dinner buffet

Royal Caribbean states on its website that the Windjammer buffet will not be open for dinner while there is reduced capacity onboard.

Buffets will now be served by crew rather than self-service, and more covered or wrapped grab-and-go items will be made available for your convenience at buffets and cafes around the ship.

In addition, reservations for the Windjammer buffet will be recommended, but not completely necessary. Royal Caribbean says they will "gladly" accommodate walk-ins when availability permits, but reservations are recommended for the Windjammer buffet due to limited capacity.

No karaoke

Certain activities have been deemed simply not safe to be offered onboard, including karaoke, laser tag, parades and themed parties.

While Royal Caribbean says they will still offer a great deal of entertainment variety, these particular events will be absent.

Appointments will be required at the gym

Staying fit is a major priority for a lot of guests, and while the fitness center will be open, it will have a limited capacity.

The gym will still be available but due to limited capacity to allow for physical distancing, appointments will be required. 

Face masks will be required inside the gym, unless you are performing strenuous exercises, such as participating in fitness classes or using cardio machines like the treadmill, rower, and stair stepper. 

Temperature checks conducted by kiosk or by your stateroom attendant

Every day there will be a mandatory temperature check in the afternoon using touchless thermometers.

It will be performed via kiosk or by your stateroom attendant. Both guests and crew members have their temperature checked daily.

Royal Caribbean releases easy guide to new health protocols

In:
15Oct2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean plans to restart cruises in December on Quantum of the Seas, and has released some easy to read guides about the new changes that will be added.

The cruise line calls its collection of new health protocols, "The Royal Promise", and it encompasses all the new changes onboard to protect guests from the current health crisis.

These changes include reducing the number of guests onboard to no more than 50% occupancy, testing everyone before sailing, and enhanced cleanliness standards.

Pool Deck

Royal Caribbean ships will sail at no more than 50% occupancy, and added friendly spacing reminders anywhere a little extra guidance may be needed.

They have implemented safe spacing at restaurants, bars and lounges, shows, Casino Royale, and on the pool deck. This includes reduced capacity in pools and hot tubs.

1. More Room to Swim
Pools are limited to 50% capacity to allow for physical distancing. Face masks should not be worn, as a wet mask can cause difficulty in breathing.
2. Spaced Out Seating
Pool chairs and day beds are disinfected daily and arranged to allow for sufficient space between your group and others.
3. Increased Sanitization
All public areas and bathrooms are regularly disinfected, including daily electrostatic spraying.
4. Towels
All pool towels are washed with hospital-grade detergents at high temperatures.
5. Clean Hands on Deck
Additional touchless Purell hand sanitizer and wipes dispensers are available for you.
6. Soak Up the Space
Whirlpools are limited in capacity so you can safely enjoy bubbles with your buds.
7. Less Things to Touch
Order drinks using QR codes to view menus on your phone. And no need to sign or deal with receipts for lower-cost transactions.
8. Soft Served to You
All self-service ice cream machines will be staffed by crew members.
9. Poolside Tables
Some tables will be blocked off to give you plenty of space to sit and snack.
10. Back on Track
Enjoy some exercise on the jogging track during dedicated mask-free hours.
11. Here for You
Safety ambassadors and crew members will help ensure everyone is safe and following recommendations.
12. 
Face Masks
Face masks are required in all areas of the pool deck unless you’re in the water, where you should continue to observe physical distancing

Outdoor Activities

Royal Caribbean has added enhanced health and safety protocols to its signature outdoor activities, including the FlowRider and mini-golf.

1. Increased Sanitization
All public areas and bathrooms are regularly disinfected including daily electrostatic spraying.
2. Clean Hands on Deck
Additional touchless Purell hand sanitizer and wipes dispensers are available for you.
3. Spaced Out Seating
Chairs and benches are disinfected daily and arranged to allow for a safe distance between your group and others.
4. FlowRider® & Waterslides
Water activities do not require face masks while riding, but need to be worn while waiting in line.
5. Dry Slides & Rides
Dry slides and other rides will be sanitized regularly during open hours.
6. Sports Court
Enjoy instructor-led competitions and drills that give you new ways to exercise while physically distanced.
7. Mini Golf & Table Tennis
Sanitized equipment can be checked out from the Sports Desk, or sanitizing wipes will be provided for use after each player.
8. Zip Line
All equipment is sanitized by staff between riders.
9. Rock Climbing Wall
All gear is sanitized by staff between climbers and liquid chalk has replaced shared regular chalk.
10. Regular Reminders
Announcements are made periodically to encourage physical distancing and floor markers help direct you where to safely stand.
11. Here for You
Safety ambassadors and crew members will help ensure everyone is safe and following recommendations.
12. Face Masks
On Singapore cruises, face masks are required on the outer decks, except while riding the FlowRider.

Other Fleet Favorite Experiences

North Star
Limited to 4 riders, or 5 riders of the same travel group. Physical distancing is observed. Reserve on Cruise Planner.

RipCord by iFLY
Staff and guests must wear face masks until entering the flight tunnel. Physical distancing is observed. Reserve on Cruise Planner.

Indoor areas

New stringent cleaning protocols ensure safe public hangouts, with smart enhancements like virtual queues and QR code menus.

1. More Room for You
Indoor venues are limited to 50% capacity with floor markers and directional signage to safely guide you.
2. Increased Sanitization
All public areas are regularly disinfected including daily electrostatic spraying and frequent disinfecting of high-touch surfaces.
3. Getting Around
Elevators are limited to four people at a time or your travel group only. Stairs are available as usual and railings are cleaned frequently.
4. Clean Hands on Deck
Additional touchless Purell hand sanitizer and wipes dispensers are available for you.
5. Indoor Cafés and Restaurants
Tables and seating are sanitized regularly. Some tables will be blocked for physical distancing.
6. Bars and Lounges
Tables, seating and bar tops are sanitized regularly. Some seats will be blocked for physical distancing.
7. Virtual Queuing
Your phone will alert you when it’s your turn to be helped at the Guest Services or Shore Excursions desks.
8. Private Shopping
Stores will welcome a limited number of shoppers at once, and private appointments are available by request.
9. Less Things to Touch
Order food and drink using QR codes to view menus on your phone. And no need to sign or deal with receipts for lower-cost transactions.
10. 100% Fresh, Filtered Air
Fresh ocean air from outside is continuously supplied to all public spaces.
11. Here for You
Safety ambassadors and crew members will help ensure everyone is safe and following recommendations.
12. Face Masks
Face masks are required. In restaurants, bars and lounges, seated guests may eat and drink without masks.

Staterooms

Royal Caribbean has enhanced their stateroom cleaning protocols, cleaning all high-touch surfaces with disinfectants and cleaning agents that have been certified by the local authorities.

In addition, your room has a continuous flow of 100% fresh air from outside, even if you don't have a balcony or window.

1. Certified Cleaning Agents
Hospital-grade disinfectants are used daily to clean all high-touch surfaces.
2. Crisp, Clean Linens
All towels, bedding, and pillows are laundered with hospital-grade detergents at high temperatures.
3. 100% Fresh, Filtered Air
Fresh ocean air is continuously supplied to every stateroom from outside, with a total air change of up to 12 times per hour.
4. Daily Distanced Service
Your room is only serviced and sanitized by a stateroom attendant while you are out — and there are still towel animal surprises.
5. Room Service
We know Room Service is your favorite stateroom ritual. And new contactless delivery protocols ensure you’ll enjoy it safely.
6. Welcome Amenities
Complimentary face mask and hand sanitizing gel are provided upon your arrival.
7. Safety Briefing
Now you can watch the muster video from the comfort of your in-stateroom television.
8. Digital Daily Planner
Conveniently access your Cruise Compass from the Royal App on your phone.
9. Face Mask
Face masks are not required while in your stateroom or balcony.

 

A decision on lifting the cruise ship ban could be coming as early as this week

In:
14Oct2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is prepared for a possible announcement of cruises restarting next week, depending on what happens with the No Sail order.

Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed, informed travel agents that there is a possibility next week if the U.S. Center for Disease Control lifts the No Sail order.

During a webinar with travel agents, Freed mentioned the possibility of talking about restarting cruises if an announcement is made, or delaying that discussion if no decision is reached.

"There is a chance that we will have a return to service Coffee Chat, if the CDC gives us the green light this week."

That announcement could be postponed, "If we don't hear back this week from the CDC."

The No Sail order is a ban on cruise ships that is prohibits any cruise ships with 250 or more passengers from operating in the U.S. through October 31, 2020.

Royal Caribbean has cancelled of its cruises through November 30, 2020.

Royal Caribbean has been shutdown since mid-March, and the No Sail order has been a major obstacle to any restart plan in North America.

The No Sail order will remain in effect until one of the following occurs:

  • The expiration of the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ declaration that COVID-19 constitutes a public health emergency,
  • The CDC Director rescinds or modifies the order based on specific public health or other considerations, or
  • October 31, 2020.

The CEO of Royal Caribbean and four other cruise lines met with Vice President Pence and the CDC last week to discuss the detailed steps the cruise lines will employ to operate safely.

The meeting was set up to discuss how the current global health crisis impacts the cruise industry, along with the CDC’s No Sail Order, and the Cruise Lines International Association and Healthy Sail Panel’s proposal to resume sailing operations in a safe and responsible manner.

While the No Sail order is stopping cruises in North America, Royal Caribbean will begin sailing with Quantum of the Seas in December out of Singapore.

These 3- and 4-night Singapore sailings will be limited to residents of Singapore.

7 hints & updates from Royal Caribbean on what's next

In:
14Oct2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Six Royal Caribbean executives answered questions from travel agents during a webinar on Wednesday that touched upon a number of changes, initiatives and plans for the future.

The potpourri of questions were on the topics of new ports, crew members, cruises restating and so much more, which provided some insight into questions many cruise fans have had for a while.

Some of these answers were hints, and others gave good indications of what to expect.

When will the 2022-2023 cruises be released?

Many cruise fans want to know when the new set of itineraries will be released for 2022 and 2023.

Royal Caribbean Director of Revenue Strategy, Brittany Briggs, said that typically new itineraries are released in November and December, and others in the spring.

"I don't expect that will be too much from that this year. So I would stay on the lookout for something and some communications next month on our opening."

When will the new cruise terminal in Galveston open?

We all know that the new cruise terminal in Galveston, Texas that will be able to accommodate an Oasis Class size cruise ship is delayed by a year, but is the terminal still on track for completion?

 Josh Carroll, Royal Caribbean's Vice President, Port Development, confirmed it will be opening in 2022.

"We were on target to have that terminal up and running in 2021, due to COVID that has been delayed and will now be opening the following year in 2022. So we're very excited to bring Oasis class to Galveston and that's on track."

When will Royal Caribbean cruise on the west coast of the United States?

Perhaps the longest running constant question among cruise fans is when will Royal Caribbean return to the west coast for cruises.

The exact question posed was about cruise ships visiting ports in Western Mexico, but the answer gave us a glimmer of hope that we might be closer to cruises returning to the west coast than we might have thought.

Mr. Carroll said the growth of cruises in Alaska will offer Royal Caribbean the opportunity to sail from the West Coast when the Alaska cruise season is complete, and it sounds like sooner than we think.

'We are always evaluating different homeport options, as you can see, we're growing dramatically in Alaska, which in Alaska is only a summer product. So we're looking at a number of different options for the winter."

"And we think that pretty soon we may have something exciting to announce."

Will Royal Caribbean add any new ports to visit in the Caribbean?

Many cruise fans are eager for new ports of call to visit to help spice up the choices, and it sounds like more itineraries are on the horizon.

Mr. Carroll said more ports are coming, including stops at Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic as part of the 2022-2023 deployment schedule for Oasis Class ships.

"You'll also see us start going to places more that we don't necessarily visit often today as we partner with those government and port operators to expand the infrastructure and guest experience capabilities,"  Mr. Carroll explained.

"I saw a question come through, for example, on Grand Turk, and we are looking in the Turks and Caicos and have some some opportunities there as well to be able to add those to our itineraries."

Will the Future Cruise Credit expiration dates be extended?

As of June 30, 2020, Royal Caribbean Group reported they had approximately $1.8 billion in customer deposits, which means there is a lot of future cruise credits floating around.

Every future cruise credit has an expiration date associated with it, and the question was asked if those FCCs would be extended.

Ms. Briggs said there are no plans right now to extend FCCs, "At this time we don't have any intention of extending the global suspension or Cruise with Confidence FCCs."

"However, any other FCC that's not related to those that have either already expired or they are expected to expire by the end of this year, we are extending those through March 31st of 2021."

"So you can book by March 31st 2021 for any sailing that is open through April of 2022."

How long to train returning crew members for cruises to restart?

With regards to cruises restarting, how long will it take to train crew members so that they can get up to speed on the new regulations and policies.

Mark Tamis, Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President, Hotel Operations, said there are already crew members in the training phase, especially as it relates to cruises from Singapore on Quantum of the Seas.

Mr. Tamis explained how the digital training works, "We really digitize a lot of our training. So the crew, whether they're at home or on the ship in their own time, can get the training on their own handheld device."

"We have all these training modules that are being delivered to our crew right now. So they're already getting up to speed about how they'll be bringing to life all the new protocols."

What was the original name of Perfect Day at CocoCay?

This was not asked specifically, but Mr. Tamis mentioned while answering a call about the success of Perfect Day at CocoCay that the island makeover had a very different name.

"I joined the brand maybe a week after Michael [Bayley] did when he moved over from Celebrity, I think the first conversation we had was about, and this is inside baseball information, was originally called Adventure World."

How Royal Caribbean will circulate air on its cruise ships to protect against coronavirus

In:
14Oct2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Due to the nature of how COVID-19 is spread, many cruisers want to know what Royal Caribbean will do to protect passengers from the airborne spread of the virus.

Specifically, they want to know how the air will be circulated and filtered onboard so that it is safe on their cruise ship.

Fresh ocean air

Royal Caribbean says its HVAC system continuously supplies 100% fresh, filtered air from outdoors to all indoor spaces.

The air is drawn from one side of the ship for cooling and ventilation, then removed via exhaust on the opposite side of the ship.

This continual intake of fresh air replaces the air in any space, with a total air change up to 12 times an hour in staterooms, and about 15 changes an hour in large public spaces.

In local spaces, like smaller venues and your stateroom, fan coil units provide an extra layer of protection, continuously scrubbing the air of pathogens, using a high-grade MERV 13 filter that captures aerosols 0.3 to 1 micron in size with 90% efficacy— fine enough to filter colds, flu germs, and coronavirus.

How they tested this approach

If you are wondering how Royal Caribbean could know this solution would keep guests safe, they had an independent assessment conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

A bioaerosol assessment was done on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas.

This study involved releasing billions of 1µ aerosol-sized microspheres, each containing uniquely DNA barcoded inert virus surrogate, throughout the ship at certain pre-selected spaces (i.e., crew cabins, guest staterooms, and adjacent public spaces including the casino, Studio-B & Disco/Lounge) to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of the vessel’s indoor air management strategies, as well as to understand the spread of the aerosols through the HVAC system and in between the adjacent private and public spaces.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center study found that to clear the virus droplets from the air in about an hour, they needed to use an HVAC system that changed the air in the room at least 6 times or more and used a filter with a MERV rating of 13.

The MERV rating of a filter refers to how much it can filter particles in the air, with a higher number meaning a higher level of filtration.  The MERV ratings range between 1 and 20. A MERV rating of 13-16 is considered hospital level air quality.

This study confirmed that cross-contamination of air between adjacent public spaces is extremely low, and undetectable in most test cases, thanks to this powerful system.

Keeping air inside the ship safe

In addition to the study conducted, as well as the new policies announced by the cruise line, the Healthy Sail Panel came up with 7 important things Royal Caribbean can do to manage indoor air and keep it clean.

  1. Enhance filtration – The Panel recommends that HVAC filters be upgraded to the highest level possible for each ship given the constraints of ship age and ventilation type (e.g., MERV 8 to MERV 13)
  2. Optimize airflow patterns – For example, the Panel recommends that cruise operators optimize airflow so that air is not recirculated; should air recirculation exist, given the HVAC system design, then the recirculated air must be filtered through a high-grade filter (i.e., MERV 13 or higher).
  3. Use negative pressurization – The Panel recommends that cruise operators ensure that SARSCoV-2 isolation rooms are consistently at negative pressure. This means that cruise operators should ensure that there is sufficient negative pressure that will not be affected by doors opening and closing or people walking by. This should be optimized given the constraints of ship age and ventilation type.
  4. Minimize unfiltered, recirculated air – Cruise operators should provide air exhausted to the outside and maximize air changes per hour and filtration of air in staterooms, crew rooms, and public areas.
  5. Increase number of air changes per hour in certain areas – The Panel recommends that cruise operators pay special attention to areas where individuals would be most vulnerable to airborne transmission, and that they should prioritize increasing the number of air changes per hour in those areas. More specifically, isolation rooms in medical facilities on board should have 6-12 air changes per hour, be at a negative pressure to the adjacent area, and have 100% air exhausted to the outside.
  6. Use portable HEPA filters (or other proven air cleaning systems) in congregate areas, as needed – Portable HEPA units have been shown to help reduce the level of airborne particles. This technology or other technologies that reduce the risk of airborne infection transmission may be used to augment other air management strategies.
  7. Maximize outdoor functions and physical distancing – The Panel recommends an overall emphasis on reducing indoor functions whenever possible, given that dilution is most achievable in outdoor settings. Further, cruise operators should ensure that guests understand that air management strategies do not negate the importance of following physical distancing protocols.

As you can see from these recommendations, many of the recommendations are incorporated in Royal Caribbean's robust system.

The cruise line believes its air circulation plan makes the transmission of aerosol particles between spaces (like those from a cough) "extremely low to virtually impossible".

Is Royal Caribbean's chat feature coming to more ships?

In:
14Oct2020
By: Matt Hochberg

A guest to guest chat feature has been the most highly anticipated feature in Royal Caribbean's app, and some cruisers think perhaps we are on the precipice of chat rolling out.

A number of RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers have shared screenshots from their Royal Caribbean app for upcoming cruises that have the chat feature enabled.

Royal Caribbean's chat option was in development before the cruise industry shutdown in early March, and was only available on Harmony of the Seas and Allure of the Seas in beta testing.

The chat icon has recently appeared on guests with cruises booked on Freedom of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas.

Thanks to Christian Monn, Brian McNichols and Luke Wallace for screenshots

Prior to the shutdown, Royal Caribbean confirmed it was targeting the third or fourth quarter of 2020 to roll out chat to all of its cruise ships.

There is no cost to use Royal Caribbean's app while onboard and you do not need an internet package to use the app either.

Will chat roll out to all ships?

While Royal Caribbean has acknowledged the chat feature is "the number one feature" guests are asking for, it is unclear if it really is ready on more ships or simply the app accidently showing the feature as active.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Royal Caribbean Group said the prolonged cruise shutdown has forced them to cut spending in a number of areas, including tech.

"In addition, we have reduced our planned capital spending through 2021, which may negatively impact our execution of planned growth strategies, particularly as it relates to investments in our ships, technology, and our expansion of land-based developments."

How does chat work?

The texting feature in Royal Caribbean's app works very similar to other texting apps you may have used in other apps.

Royal Caribbean's chat offers one-to-one guest chat, along with group chats.

Once onboard the ship and logged onto Royal Caribbean's Wi-Fi  network (no internet package required to use the app), other guests will show up as offline or online but are only online if they have the app opened and to the “chat” window.

If your travel agent linked your reservation before sailing with a friend or family the will automatically show up in your list of contacts. You also have the option of adding other guests.

The one feature the team was working on getting just right was the notification feature so that if you were not actively using the Royal Caribbean app, you would be notified of an incoming message.

Royal Caribbean's app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

8 Secret spots on Royal Caribbean cruise ships

In:
13Oct2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean ships are packed with so many fun venues, including a few areas you might not know about unless you really looked around.

One of my favorite things to do on any cruise ship is try to find an area of the ship most other guests overlook or never consider checking out.  After all, sometimes it is nice to get away from the crowds and enjoy some quiet time (especially if you do not have to compete with the chair hogs).

In looking over the fleet of Royal Caribbean ships, I have compiled a list of my favorite hidden spots so you can enjoy them on your next cruise.  It is up to you if you want to tell anyone else about these secrets.

Aft chairs on Oasis class ships

One of the best spots to relax without crowds and have a great view is the chairs on the aft (rear) of the Oasis Class cruise ships.

Each of Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class ships (Oasis, Allure, Harmony and Symphony) have a jogging track on deck 5 and if you take the track to the back of the ship, you will find a set of chairs that provide a great view of the ocean as you pass by.

This spot is rarely busy, and perfect for reading or just enjoying the scenery.

You can also access this area by going behind the AquaTheater and going down the stairs.

Symphony's piano stairs

The stairs leading up to Windjammer Marketplace on Symphony of the Seas plays musical notes and briefly light up when you step on them.

There is no sign or anything, so people are always taken by surprise

Play your own tune by walking up or down these stairs located toward the aft of the ship between decks 15 and 16, leading up to Windjammer. 

Helipad

On Radiance, Freedom, and Voyager class cruise ships, you can visit the helipad on the bow (front) of the ship anytime you want for amazing views.

Royal Caribbean permits guests access to the helipad, and it is a great spot to see the port as you leave, especially for those that do not have a balcony stateroom or simply want something a little different.

To access the helipad, just go to the promenade deck (usually deck 4 or 5) and walk all the way forward.

Once there, you will find benches to sit on but the best spots are as far forward as you can get.

In addition to sailaway, the helipad is usually open most of the day, but it can close at any time for safety reasons (usually high winds).

Bridge wings

Whether you want the best vantage point for a photo, or just want to get one of the most unubstructed views aboard, the bridge wings are a great choice.

Bridge wings are available on Quantum and Oasis class cruise ships.

 Located on deck 14, these viewing platforms extend out from the ship to provide the absolute best view of what is around.

To get to the wing viewing areas, go to the Solarium and proceed all the way forward

Peek-a-boo bridge

One of the best features of Royal Caribbean's Voyager Class ships has to be is the Peek-A-Boo bridge feature, where guests can peer into the bridge at almost any time.

The observation window allows guests to look down onto the bridge and observe what the officers are up to in their daily navigational duties.  

To reach the Peek-A-Boo bridge, head up to deck 11 and walk past the sliding doors that go forward of the Solarium and do not seem to lead anywhere.

Some Voyager Class ships have had this area removed with recent refurbishments, but not all ships.

Tucked away spots on jogging track

On Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas, you will find two usually deserted spots for gaming or relaxing.

Harmony of the Seas has a small seating area on both sides of the forward section on deck 5 of the ship to relax in with plenty of lounge chairs.

These areas do not have a name mentioned to reference them, but they are just off the running track on both sides.  Some runners choose to use these areas as a break point, while others simply bring their coffee or book to enjoy the view.

On Symphony of the Seas, you will find on each side of the forward jogging track two alcoves where you can enjoy the view of the ocean and even some lounge chairs.

One side of the deck has a shuffleboard court, and the other had ping pong tables. These alcoves are not only great spots to find seclusion, but they offer something to do with very likely no wait.

Playmaker's Owners Box

If your crew are looking for a great spot to chat and call your own, be sure to grab the Owner's Box.

On different ships that have a Playmaker's Sports Bar, there is usually a carved out space that is perfect for a group to chat, drink and eat in that provides a bit more privacy than anywhere in the bar.

You can still get drink and food service here, and there is no cost to sit in the Owner's Box. It is simply first come, first served.

Outdoor Windjammer tables

If you happen to be on a Radiance or Quantum Class ship, there is outdoor seating towards the rear of the Windjammer.  

Most guests simply grab their food and sit at one of the tables surrounding the buffet stations, but there is additional seating at the aft of the ship where you can enjoy the passing breeze, as well as the views around you.

After you get your food, keep walking towards the back through a set of doors to discover this usually not busy spot. There are coffee and water stations outside as well.

Your thoughts

Is there a secret spot on a Royal Caribbean ship that you think is worthy of this list? Have you been to any of these hidden gems? Share your thoughts in our comments!

Demand for new Royal Caribbean cruises in Singapore "exceeded expectations"

In:
13Oct2020
By: Matt Hochberg

It has been less than a week since Royal Caribbean announced its first cruise ship would restart cruises in Singapore, and demand for these sailings is already off to a great start.

The Strait Times reports while Royal Caribbean has not provided exact booking numbers, demand has "exceeded expectations".

Royal Caribbean will begin sailing with Quantum of the Seas on cruises with no port stops, which are also limited to residents of Singapore. These 3- and 4-night sailings begin on December 1, 2020 from Singapore.

The cruise line did confirm that demand for these new sailings are up 500% compared to the previous two weeks, and the first sailing on Quantum of the Seas is almost sold out.

Royal Caribbean Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Angie Stephen, believes the new bookings reflect the public's "pent-up desire to travel".

She said the four-night cruise sailing every Thursday evening is particularly attractive, as guests need to take only a day off from work on Friday to enjoy a long weekend on the cruise.

Royal Caribbean has received permission from the Singapore government to conduct these sailings, which are pilot cruises that must meet all requirements and guidelines for safe cruising.

These first Quantum of the Seas cruises are round-trip cruises from Singapore with no port stops.  They are also sailing at reduced capacity of up to 50%, and open to only residents of Singapore.

When cruises resume in Singapore, a variety of comprehensive new health protocols will be implemented onboard Quantum of the Seas including:

  • Testing and screening
  • Upgraded Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems that enhance filtration
  • Stringent cleaning practices
  • Reduced capacities for greater physical distancing
  • Expert medical care and onboard facilities

These protocols will continuously be evaluated and enhanced as new procedures and advancements in technology become available. 

The first sailing on Quantum of the Seas on December 1 is capped at about 1,000 guests.

Royal Caribbean gives business update on 2021 bookings, restarting & impact of shutdown

In:
13Oct2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Group issued a business update in an SEC filing, as part of a financial disclosure tied to the offering of $1 billion in stock and senior convertible notes.

New bookings for 2021 have continued to improve over the last two months, although they are still below pre-Covid-19 levels.

Pricing for 2021 bookings is relatively flat year-over-year when including the negative yield impact of bookings made with future cruise credits; it is slightly up year-over-year when excluding them. 

As of June 30, 2020, the Company had approximately $1.8 billion in customer deposits. The Company believes that the customer deposits balance is not materially different as of September 30, 2020 as compared to the June 30, 2020 balance. Approximately 50% of the guests booked on cancelled sailings have requested cash refunds.

Restarting cruises

In terms of being able to restart cruises in 2020, the disclosure also touched upon the confidence level the company has right now.

Royal Caribbean Group says it remains "optimistic that we will be able to commence commercial sailings in 2020; however, we can provide no assurance that we will be able to return to service within such timeframe."

In addition, there has been no word from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on what to expect in the future, "We have not been notified by the CDC of any intention to extend the current “no sail” order beyond the current specified outside date of October 31, 2020, and we currently have no further information as to when the CDC will respond to our recommendations or make any announcement."

In terms of getting crew members back home, the company also warned that shipboard crew were notified that their contracts would end early and they would be notified about new assignments when operations resume in the future. As a result of these actions, Royal Caribbean said they "may be challenged in rebuilding our workforce which could further delay our return to service."

Other impacts of the shutdown

The SEC filing did not pull any punches related to other business forecasts, such as what other fallout could occur from this prolonged shutdown.

One of the early steps Royal Caribbean took to conserve cash was the reduce capital spending, and Royal Caribbean Group said it has reduced their capital spending through 2021.

"We have reduced our planned capital spending through 2021, which may negatively impact our execution of planned growth strategies, particularly as it relates to investments in our ships, technology, and our expansion of land-based developments."

"Furthermore, we have taken actions to monitor and mitigate changes in our supply chain, and port destination availability, which may strain relationships with our vendors and port partners."

Of five ships originally scheduled for delivery between July 2020 and December 2021, Royal Caribbean expects that Silver Moon, Silver Dawn and Odyssey of the Seas will be delivered within the planned time frame.

The exact duration of the ship delivery delays is currently under discussion with the impacted shipyards.

Class action lawsuit

You may have read about a new class action lawsuit filed last week against Royal Caribbean Group that seek damages related to the decline in Royal Caribbean's stock in the early part of the global health crisis.

The company made a brief comment on this litigation, noting it as "without merit".

"We cannot predict the duration or outcome of this lawsuit at this time, although we believe the claims are without merit."

"Depending on how the case progresses, it could be costly to defend and could divert the attention of management and other resources from operations. Accordingly, even if ultimately resolved in our favor, this action could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity."

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