Alt Text!

First look at Royal Caribbean's new health protocols when it restarts cruises

In:
08Oct2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean will restart cruises in Singapore in December, and with these first cruises back, we have a look at the new health protocols it will implement on these first sailings.

The new rigorous protocols are known as The Royal Promise, and it is our first look at what kind of changes we can expect to find on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship going forward.

These new protocols are based on the Healthy Sail Panel recommendations, as well as in keeping with the local guidelines. RoyalCaribbeanBlog has confirmed these are in line with what can be expected fleetwide.

100% Testing

Royal Caribbean committed to fully testing all passengers and crew earlier this week, so it is not a surprise to see testing will be part of the plan for these first sailings.

Every guest and crew member will be required to test negative for SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) prior to boarding — and Royal Caribbean will cover the cost of the test for sailings departing on or before January 30, 2021.All guests must undergo a SARS-CoV-2 test within 48 to 72 hours prior to boarding and obtain a negative result. The cost of your SARS-CoV-2 test is included in your cruise fare for sailings departing on or before January 30, 2021.

    Full refunds if you cannot cruise

    What happens if you test positive at home, or at the terminal? 

    For Singapore sailings, if you test positive and cannot join the cruise, you can still receive 100% Future Cruise Credit in the event you contract COVID-19 within the three (3) weeks before departure and are unable to cruise.

    • 100% Future Cruise Credit if you or someone in your travel party tests positive within three weeks prior to the cruise

    • 100% Future Cruise Credit if you or someone in your travel party tests positive at the boarding terminal

    • 100% refund for you and your travel party if any of you tests positive during your cruise

    • Royal Caribbean will cover COVID-19-related costs up to $25,000 SGD ($20,000 USD) per person in your travel party, for onboard medical costs, cost of any required quarantine, and travel home.

    Aside from a positive test result, certain circumstances may lead to a denial of boarding for you or your party, including but not limited to:

    • Failure to affirmatively state a willingness to comply with our safety and public policies
    • Prior to boarding, or at any time during the voyage, failure to comply with our safety and health policies
    • Refusal to wear face masks in violation of applicable law or regulations
    • A guest who is unable to provide verifiable evidence of a negative SARS-CoV-2 test result
    • A guest who provides a negative SARS-CoV-2 test result which we, in our sole discretion, deem unacceptable
    • Multiple temperature readings that equal or exceed 37.5 degrees Celsius
    • Symptoms outlined in the Health Questionnaire are observed or documented
    • Contact tracing reveals close contact with someone with COVID-19
    • Refusal to submit to secondary health screening; or a secondary health screening which results in a denial of boarding recommendation by the personnel conducting the secondary health screening.

    Upgraded filtered air

    Royal Caribbean has promised its ships will have new HVAC system that 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. 

    New cleaning standards

    A new set of medical-grade cleaning standards will be implemented on its cruise ships.

    All ships are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to every voyage, and consistently and frequently throughout your sailing. 

    Frequently touched areas like elevators, escalators, stairways, and promenades will be cleaned every two hours and gangway rails every 20 to 30 minutes during busy times.

    Staterooms are cleaned daily only while guests are out of the room, and particular attention is paid to frequently used items and surfaces. 

    Reduced capacity

    At least initially, Royal Caribbean will only sail with a maximum of 50% capacity in order to foster social distancing and provide enough space for guests. The number of guests onboard may be adjusted in the future as situations evolve.

    Signage, ground markings, and crew safety ambassadors will be posted throughout the ship and terminal to kindly remind guests of distancing and other protocols.

    Seating in public spaces such as dining venues, theaters, and pool decks will be spread out and elevators will be limited to no more than four guests or one travel party at a time.

    Where and when you have to wear masks

    All guests and crew will be required to wear a mask onboard.

    Specifically, guests should wear face masks in nearly all public settings regardless of physical distancing measures but will not be required to wear face masks in their own stateroom.

    There are exceptions, however, such as dining venues, where guests can eat and drink without face masks while seated, provided physical distancing is observed.

    Also, guests should not wear masks while engaged in activities that may cause the mask to become wet, like when swimming in pools, or when participating in strenuous activities, such as jogging, running, or fitness classes at the Vitality Spa and Fitness Center.

    Note that neck gaiters, open chin bandanas and scarves, and face masks with valves do not meet health authority guidelines and will not be permitted.

    What happens if there is a positive case onboard?

    The last thing anyone wants is to become "stuck" on a cruise ship due to a quarantine, and Royal Caribbean says it has a "robust, tiered response plan in place" to deal with that sort of a situation.

    The tiers increase protocols and vigilance onboard while providing transparent updates to guests the whole way.

    In partnership with local authorities, Royal Caribbean has developed transport protocols to ensure we can get you home safely. Thanks to rapid technology-enabled contact tracing, the cruise line will also be able to advise you in the event you had extended contact with any known case.

    Rapid SARS-CoV-2 tests can be conducted right onboard in the medical lab that allows for rapid, accurate onsite RT-PCR testing with results in under an hour, alongside a multitude of other evaluative tests.

    Royal Caribbean announces cruises will restart in Singapore on Quantum of the Seas

    In:
    08Oct2020
    By: Matt Hochberg

    Royal Caribbean announced it has reached a deal with Singapore to offer cruises on Quantum of the Seas, beginning in December.

    An array of 3- and 4-night cruises have been approved by the Singapore Government and begin sailing on December 1, 2020.  

    These new cruises are only available to residents of Singapore are now available for booking.

    Royal Caribbean has been working with local health and tourism authorities to follow all requirements and guidelines including the CruiseSafe Certification standards, which all cruise lines must obtain prior to sailing out 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. 

    "Singapore residents are adventurous travelers, and we are so excited to give them the opportunity to get away from their daily grind and enjoy a thrilling world-class Ocean Getaway, with total peace of mind. While the cruise experience will be different than it was pre-pandemic, we are committed to providing the signature Royal Caribbean holiday that guests know and love, while keeping the health and safety of everyone on board as our top priority" said Angie Stephen, managing director, Asia Pacific, Royal Caribbean International. "I extend my deepest gratitude to the Singapore Government for their collaboration and support and confidence in Royal Caribbean to deliver a safe cruising experience. We share their strong commitment and focus to reignite the local economy and bring back jobs and services supporting the travel industry."

    Just yesterday, Royal Caribbean had cancelled all of Quantum of the Seas previously scheduled cruises from Singapore through March 2021.

    The first pilot cruises will be:

    • Round-trips with no ports of call
    • Sailing at a reduced capacity of up to 50 percent
    • Only open to Singapore residents

    Cruises from Singapore are the only sailings to have been resumed by Royal Caribbean International.  Earlier this week, the cruise line cancelled all of its cruises through the end of of November.

    Rapid COVID-19 tests now available at New York airports

    In:
    07Oct2020
    By: Matt Hochberg

    The cruise industry has promised to test every passenger before they get on a cruise ship, and one company will begin offering 15 minute rapid tests in New York airports.

    Royal Caribbean joined other cruise lines in declaring a commitment to offer 100% testing of every crew member and guests earlier this week, and the promise of new and faster tests seems to be one step closer.

    XpresCheck announced it has opened testing stations in two New York airports that can deliver results in just 15 minutes. The Company has signed a contract securing 100 rapid test instruments. 

    The tests are available at the JFK International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport locations as of October 7. The company has plans to open locations in 60 Large Hub and Medium Hub airports, which are "in advanced discussions".

    The new test stations are at Terminal 4 of JFK and level 3 in Terminal B at Newark.

     XpresCheck already operates health and wellness facilities at 25 airports around the world. 

    Testing is a major priority for cruise ships

    Royal Caribbean has identified testing as a primary focus of its multi-layered strategy for ensuring guests are safe on their cruise ships.

    One of the Healthy Sail Panel's recommendations is to have guests get a negative test between 5 days and 24 hours before the cruise.

    "All guests joining a ship, regardless of method of travel to the ship, should be tested for SARS-CoV-2 between 5 days and 24 hours before boarding and receive a negative result that is shared with the cruise operator, before coming on board."

    Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain recently said he was very excited about the recent advances in testing.

    Specifically, Fain believes the development of new test capabilities, combined with decreasing testing costs and speedier results is "staggering."

    How will guests get a test in time?

    While many cruise fans are eager to do what it takes to get back on a cruise, getting test results in a short amount of time is not an easy task.

    With faster tests becoming more readily available, the cruise lines plans become more viable.

    The Healthy Sail Panel hopes guests can get a test before they travel in order to minimize the spread. Mr. Fain believes the test results can then get electronically linked to your SetSail Pass, and assuming all is well, you are good to go.

    "We do think that we have procedures that we could put in place that gets you the tests, have the test results reported directly to us."

    "I think we have processes that will enable you relatively easily to get the tests and have... the confirmation of the negative tests forwarded to us electronically."

    Top 8 things you should know about Royal Caribbean's 125% onboard credit offer

    In:
    07Oct2020
    By: Matt Hochberg

    When Royal Caribbean cancels cruises during its voluntary suspension, it usually offers guests the option of taking anything they pre-purchased and turn that into an onboard credit for a future sailing.

    Not only does this simplify the process of getting a refund and then re-purchasing items for a different sailing, Royal Caribbean sweetens the deal with an extra 25% credit.

    If you are thinking of taking advantage of Royal Caribbean's 125% onboard credit offer, here are the most important things to be aware of before you take it.

    You can only qualify for the onboard credit offer if you take the future cruise credit

    At this time, the elevated onboard credit offer is only available to those guests who opt for the Future Cruise Credit.

    If you elect to use Lift & Shift or ask for a full refund, you will not qualify for the 125% onboard credit.

    The bonus is only for money you spent

    The 125% onboard credit offer only applies to money you spent out of your own pocket, and not any onboard credit that was used for the now cancelled cruise.

    If you had onboard credit and used that to pay for Pre-Cruise purchases, you would only receive the offer only for the amount paid, not for the portion paid via an onboard credit.

    The onboard credit is non-refundable

    Once the onboard credit is applied to a new booking, it has no cash value and is nonrefundable.

    Once onboard, any amount unused during the voyage will not be refunded at the end of the voyage.

    You can use the onboard credit before or during your cruise

    Once you get the onboard credit, it can be used prior to your cruise to purchase items, and/or you can wait to spend it during the cruise.

    The onboard credit can be used for both pre-cruise purchases and onboard purchase, so there is no limitation on when you have to use it.

    You have to decide to use it by a certain date.

    You only have a limited time to decide if you want to opt-in for the 125% onboard credit offer. 

    Once you reach the deadline, no adjustments can be made, and an automatic refund of the pre-cruise purchases will be issued.

    For the November cruises that were just cancelled, guests have until October 16, 2020 to opt-in.

    How the bonus is calculated

    The bonus 25% onboard credit sounds great, but you should be aware of how Royal Caribbean determines the exact amount for you.

    The new Onboard Credit is based on the amount paid, excluding any previously applied Onboard Credits, and will be based on a per person value.

    You have until April 2022 to use the onboard credit

    Once you opt-in for the 125% onboard credit offer, you have until April 2022 to apply it to a particular sailing.

    You do not have to use it on your next booked cruise. Rather, it is like a Future Cruise Credit, where you can apply it as you see fit.

    Once issued, the credit will be valid for use onboard Royal Caribbean sailings through April 2022.

    The onboard credit is not tied to your future cruise credit

    The good news is you do not have to apply the 125% onboard credit to the same sailing your future cruise credit is redeemed towards.

    You can use their Future Cruise Credit on one sailing and their Onboard Credit on another.

    Royal Caribbean cancels Quantum of the Seas cruises through March 2021

    In:
    07Oct2020
    By: Matt Hochberg

    In addition to canceling all of its November 2020 cruises, Royal Caribbean has also cancelled Quantum of the Seas sailings through the end of March 2021.

    Sailings aboard Quantum of the Seas between December 2nd, 2020 – March 22nd, 2021 have been added to the list of cancelled cruises.

    Quantum of the Seas had been scheduled to sail from Singapore between 2020 and March 2021.

    Royal Caribbean's website has also removed all Quantum of the Seas cruises for booking until April 2021.

    In a statement on Royal Caribbean's website, the cruise line explained the need to "assess" changes for Quantum.

    "In preparation for our return to service, we’ve been making changes to our existing itineraries to ensure we meet the evolving needs of our guests and are aligned with any existing travel restrictions. Unfortunately, the following Quantum of the Seas sailings have now been cancelled as part of this change, while we assess our next move for this ship."

    Similar to the other cancelled cruises, guests who had cruises booked on Quantum qualify for compensation options, although Lift and Shift is not available for Quantum.

    • 125% Future Cruise Credit to book a new cruise by December 31, 2021 for sailings on or before April 30th, 2022.
    • 100% Refund. You have until December 31, 2020 to request a refund and deactivate your future cruise certificate.

    Royal Caribbean has big plans for Quantum of the Seas, setting the stage for her return to North America in summer 2021 to sail from the Pacific Northwest for the first time when she calls Seattle home in May 2021.

    Quantum will join Ovation of the Seas next year and offer 7-night cruises to Alaska, leaving on Mondays.

    Quantum of the Seas sailed for a brief period out of Bayonne, New Jersey when she debuted in 2014, but since 2015 has been sailing in Asia.

    Royal Caribbean cancels all November 2020 cruises

    In:
    06Oct2020
    By: Matt Hochberg

    Royal Caribbean announced on Tuesday it has extended its voluntary cruise suspension by canceling all of its November 2020 cruises.

    A statement on its website states all of its sailings are cancelled through November 30, 2020 and the new goal to restart cruises is December 1, 2020.

    "After further consulting with our partners at Cruise Lines International Association and in conjunction with the CDC, we have decided to extend the suspension of sailings for our global fleet for all sailings through November 30th, 2020."

    "Our goal is to resume operations on December 1st, 2020."

    Cruise operations had been suspended through the end of October, but will now be extended an additional month.

    In an email to travel agents, Royal Caribbean expanded a bit more on the impetus to extend the cancellations, "Our most recent plan was to resume operation on October 31st, 2020. However, to ensure we have ample time to focus on our healthy return to service initiatives, our global suspension has been extended through November 30th, 2020, with a plan to resume operation on December 1st, 2020."

    Compensation

    Guests affected by the cancelled cruises between November 1 - 30, 2020 have three options for compensation.

    Lift & Shift: Select next year’s sailing with the same itinerary type, sailing length, stateroom category, and within the same 4-week window of the original cruise date, and you can take your existing reservation and move it to next year. Option expires on October 16th, 2020

    125% Future Cruise Credit: To account for the inconvenience this has caused, guests are eligible for a 125% Future Cruise Credit (FCC) that is based on the total cruise fare paid at the guest-level and will be automatically issued on-or-before November 4th, 2020 — if neither of the other options is selected.

    Taxes and fees, as well as any pre-purchased amenities or onboard packages will be automatically refunded to the original form of payment within 45 days from the cancellation date. 

    If you previously opted to take advantage of our Cruise with Confidence policy, the 100% FCC will stand, and this new option is ineligible.

    Additionally, if you redeemed your Cruise with Confidence Future Cruise Credit on a sailing that is now cancelled, their original FCC will be reinstated, plus 125% of any amount paid by the guest on the cancelled reservation.

    FCCs for sailings in November will automatically be sent via email by November 4th, 2020.

    Refund: If you prefer a cash refund, you can do so by requesting this option on-or-before December 31, 2020.

    You can expect their refund to the original form of payment within 45 days from the cancellation date. 

    If you redeemed a Cruise with Confidence Future Cruise Credit on an impacted sailing and would now prefer a refund instead, Royal Caribbean will process this request in the amount of any new funds paid above the original certificate and, in turn, will reinstate the Cruise with Confidence FCC for future use.

    Cruise Planner Purchases: If you had purchased any cruise add-ons, such as shore excursions, drink packages, wifi and more, you could opt to convert your Cruise Planner purchases  to an Onboard Credit valued at 125% of the total amount paid. This offer expires on October 16th, 2020.

    What's next for Royal Caribbean?

    The latest round of cancellations likely come as no surprise to cruise fans, but the question of when cruises might actually restart again remains.

    A few hours before this announcement, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain did not rule out cruises in 2020.

    Speaking at an industry event on Tuesday, Mr. Fain shared a sense of confidence that cruises could still restart sometime in 2020.

    "We're going to start with test cruises, I think, and and then a few shorter cruises and and gradually build up as we build up our experience. But I do think that's going to start this year. I'm highly I'm highly optimistic."

    Regardless of the cruise line plans, the U.S. Center for Disease Control "No Sail" order remains the most visible obstacle for Royal Caribbean to restart cruises.

    The federal agency extended its cruise ship ban by another month, through the end of October, and there does not appear to be any signs that it could end.

    The CDC has been adamant in its belief cruise ships are not safe environments during the current global health crisis.

    "Cruise ships continue to be an unsafe environment with close quarters where the disease spreads easily and is not readily detected," is the direct rationale for why cruise ships may not sail.

    Royal Caribbean, and the entire cruise industry, has been working on comprehensive new health protocols it believes will make cruises safer than any other form of travel.

    Just today, cruise lines announced they would implement 100% testing, alongside over 70 new policies that will create a layered approach to keeping guests and crew members safe.

    Fain believes a bubble approach to cruise ships could very well be the answer, with testing at the top of that myriad of protocols.

    Spotted: Navigator of the Seas listed on PortMiami schedule for possible test sailings

    In:
    06Oct2020
    By: Matt Hochberg

    Eagle-eyed cruise fans have spotted what could potentially be the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to test sailings.

    The PortMiami vessel movements calendar lists Navigator of the Seas as in port two times in October, indicating the ship may arrive for a series of test sailings.

    • October 15 to October 19
    • October 24 to October 28

    Each time Navigator of the Seas is at PortMiami, she is scheduled to move between different terminals. On October 17, from Terminal A to Terminal D; and then on October 26 from Terminal A to Terminal G.

    This was first reported by CruiseCritic.

    Test cruises without passengers

    Royal Caribbean has said before it begins offering cruises to the public, it will conduct a series of test sailings to work through the variety of new health protocols.

    Executives have said they will start slowly by training crew and embarking on a series of non-revenue test sailings, where Royal Caribbean can rehearse and we can validate the new protocols.

    The results will be evaluated by independent observers before a few short sailings begin again.

    If those test sailings go well, then short cruises with limited destinations and controlled shore excursions will be offered.

    Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley recently spoke about the idea of using employee-only cruises first, "I said that the first cruise that we will operate through, Royal Caribbean International, will be an all employee cruise, a little bit like a shakedown cruise, because then we can test and take a look at in real-life operations all of the protocols that we're putting into place. And so our first cruise is going to be an employee cruise."

    More recently, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman Richard Fain said on Tuesday that test cruises will be first, "We're going to start with test cruises, I think, and and then a few shorter cruises and and gradually build up as we build up our experience. But I do think that's going to start this year. I'm highly optimistic."

    Cruises restarting in 2020: "optimism level is very high"

    In:
    06Oct2020
    By: Matt Hochberg

    Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain says his "optimism level is very high" that cruises could restart in 2020.

    Speaking at the "State of the Global Cruise Industry" keynote event of Seatrade Cruise Virtual, Mr. Fain shared a sense of confidence that cruises could still restart sometime in 2020.

    While Fain did not divulge specifics, he did say his confidence stems from Royal Caribbean's eagerness to get back to work, as well as the investment in using science to guide their restart plans.

    "The Healthy Sail Panel report detailed look at 74 protocols, 74 recommendations that give us the confidence that it's safe to go back."

    "We think we have a set of procedures that really put us in a position to say, yes, we have now come to the point where we can provide a healthy cruise."

    In fact, Mr. Fain went on to say that he still believes cruises can restart this year.

    "We're going to start with test cruises, I think, and and then a few shorter cruises and and gradually build up as we build up our experience. But I do think that's going to start this year. I'm highly I'm highly optimistic."

    "Safer than your hometown"

    Fain believes the nature of cruise ships allows them to control the environment more more than somewhere on land, and that is an advantage for the industry.

    "Our objective when we started, was can we do this in a way that makes being on a ship as safe or safer than being in your hometown town."

    "While there are there are special circumstances on ship that require special precautions, there's also something that no one else has, which is the ability to control the environment as well as we do."

    Fain touted the recent announcement that it would implenent 100% testing of every person entering a ship, which is something that no other travel sector is doing.

    Cruise lines working together

    Another significant milestone Richard Fain sees is the entire industry working together to learn and innovate.

    "We're all working in this together. We all are learning about COVID. We're all learning about the technology, the testing, the therapies. All of these things are coming together, working with the governments abroad, working in Europe, in the Caribbean, in Asia, in the United States, working with the CDC."

    Mr. Fain was joined by the CEOs of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Carnival Corporation and MSC Cruises.  While some executives were willing to characterize the likelihood of cruises starting this year, Mr. Fain simply stated, "I don't like putting numbers on on things like this, but I am smiling."

    Royal Caribbean plans to have 100% testing of everyone on its cruise ships

    In:
    06Oct2020
    By: Matt Hochberg

    When Royal Caribbean resumes sailings, it intends to test every single passenger and crew member.

    Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain highlighted a recommendation of the Healthy Sail Panel to institute 100% testing of cruise ship guests and crew members.

    Mr. Fain asserted that no other section of the travel industry has 100% testing, which separates Royal Caribbean (and other CLIA member lines) from the rest of travel.

    "No other section of the travel industry, no other section does one hundred percent testing. In fact, no other industry in the world requires 100 percent testing. The closest anyone comes is the bubble that was organized to the NBA teams and that's been so very successful."

    Fain seems very excited about the recent advances in testing and how much of it is offered.

    "The improvement in our country's ability to test has been phenomenal," Mr. Fain explained. "The capacity for traditional testing has grown exponentially, and we now regularly seeing more than a million tests performed in a single day. That's unheard of."

    Specifically, Fain believes the development of new test capabilities, combined with decreasing testing costs and speedier results is "staggering."

    Vaccine vs. tests

    To exemplify how important testing is and the advances made with them, Richard Fain went as far to say that he expects tests to have a greater impact on cruises than the vaccine in the short term.

    "The advances are so significant that I believe in the near term we will see more benefit from testing than we will from vaccines in the near term."

    Fain thinks the impact of a vaccine will take time, and in the meantime, new and better testing will make a quicker difference.

    "Vaccines are the ultimate weapon against this virus and their development has been nothing short of amazing. But I do think it's likely that a vaccine will be available before the end of the year. But getting enough for widespread distribution is going to take probably until sometime in the spring."

    "On the other hand, faster, cheaper and widespread testing will be much more impactful, much sooner. Widespread testing enables contact tracing, and it's the one two punch of testing and contact tracing that is so effective in limiting the community spread of the disease."

    Testing can't solve the problem by itself

    While testing is going to be a big part of Royal Caribbean's approach to ensuring cruises are safe when they return, it is not a silver bullet.

    Mr. Fain admitted that as helpful as it is, testing cannot solve the problem by itself. That is why the Healthy Sail Panel's recommendations take a variety of different steps to create a layered approach of several different operating protocols.

    "Each individual step whittles away at the risk levels until you have architected a overall much safer journey."

    "I compare it to a car. The brakes keep you safe, of course, and a seatbelt and you've got even better protection. Then add an air bag and you start to see the effect of a layered approach."

    Fain believes a bubble approach to cruise ships could very well be the answer, with testing at the top of that myriad of protocols.

    Carnival and NCL cancel more cruises: Is Royal Caribbean next?

    In:
    05Oct2020
    By: Matt Hochberg

    UPDATE: The answer is yes, Royal Caribbean has cancelled its November 2020 cruises.

    In the days since the No Sail Order was extended, Royal Caribbean's primary competitors have each announced a new round of cancellations, so is Royal Caribbean next?

    There has been no official word by Royal Caribbean on any new cancellations, but typically when one of the "big three" cruise lines has announced a new wave of cancelled cruises, the others have eventually followed suit.

    Royal Caribbean currently only has cruises cancelled through October 31, 2020, although it has also canceled transatlantic, European and Australian itineraries beyond that date.

    The dominos begin to fall

    The first cruise line to announce changes was Carnival Corporation, when it canceled sailings from most ports through December 2020.

    Carnival essentially cancelled all of its cruises, minus ships sailing from Port Canaveral and Miami in Florida. The line has not yet canceled November or December sailings from those two ports.

    Earlier today, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. cancelled all of its cruises through November 2020, with three ships cancelled through the end of March 2021.

    Both cruise lines made their announcements less than a week after the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) extended its No Sail Order through October 2020

    An unconfirmed, but widely accepted, report claims the CDC wanted to extend the No Sail Order to February 2021.

    Cruise line executives were scheduled to meet with White House officials last week, but the meeting was postponed.

    What will Royal Caribbean do?

    The big question is if/when Royal Caribbean may announce a new set of cancellations to match what the other cruise lines have done.

    Royal Caribbean rarely gives any kind of warning when a new set of cancellations are going to occur, and there is no consistent pattern to when they have been announced.

    Earlier today, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain offered a video update that did not specifically call out any new changes to its cruise schedule, but did allude to some recent news impacting the cruise industry.

    "Soon, we hope to have the opportunity to put our plans to the test. It's not going to happen overnight. It is going to take time for this process to work through."

    "The process will be carefully evaluated by independent outside observers and then only on a ship or two at first, we hope to start sailing again."

     

    Cruise fans are quite eager to know what the cruise line will do, with many having sailings scheduled to depart in less than a month.

    "It’s less than 30 days from November 1st, and based on prior cancellations by Royal, we should have had Royal’s decision about November (at the very least) by now," writes S.Marie. "I would even be ok with Royal saying we are still waiting for the green light from the CDC but here are the ships we plan to deploy (or not deploy) for our start up phase."

    "If I was a cruise line," twangster postulated, "I'd be hesitant to begin bringing thousands of crew back for two ships until there was an absolute green light from the CDC or CV Task Force that a restart is a sure thing."

    CJS2766 exemplified the concern so many seem to have, "I'm also one of those that's supposed to cruise Nov 8... I wish we would hear something already, even though I know the realistic outcome."

    Pages