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Odyssey of the Seas successfully completes sea trials

In:
25Mar2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's next new cruise ship has passed the last major stage of her construction.

Shipyard Meyer Werft announced Odyssey of the Seas has returned from her sea trials in the North Sea and the ship successfully passed all tests.

The ship is now back in Bremerhaven, Germany.

Translated from German, Meyer Werft seemed pleased with the results

Project Manager Thorsten Kroes von Bord said, "All systems work great and we have reached another important milestone for the ship with the successful test drive."

What are sea trials?

Sea trials are when a new cruise ship gets its systems tested out in order to ensure all of its features work, as well as push speed and steering to their limits.

Everything from the ship's propulsion, to navigation, to engines are tested before it can be ready to join the fleet.

Sea trials range in duration, sometimes one or two sessions is common.

The sea trials are conducted with a combination of Royal Caribbean crew members, as well as shipyard workers. 

When will Odyssey of the Seas be delivered?

With the sea trials complete, there may be some final tweaks and changes onboard before the ship is prepared for delivery.

No official delivery date has been announced by Royal Caribbean or Meyer Werft.

Until delivery takes place, the ship is still owned by Meyer Werft.  Like many other ships during the global health crisis, the delivery is likely to be a very low key event, perhaps even a virtual event.

Sister brand Celebrity Cruises took delivery of Celebrity Apex in a virtual delivery, where the cruise line took official command of the new ship via a video conference with officials from the shipyard.

Inaugural season

Odyssey of the Seas will debut for Royal Caribbean in Haifa, Israel this summer.

She will sail roundtrip from Haifa, Israel and offer cruises only to Israeli residents who are vaccinated.

Sailings this summer will visit ports in Greece and Cyprus, including Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos and Athens, Greece and Limassol, Cyprus.  

Odyssey will then cross the Atlantic to begin its inaugural North American season in November, offering 6- to 8-night itineraries from Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean.

Here are a list of the major features on Odyssey of the Seas that we know about:

  • SkyPad bungee trampoline experience 
  • SeaPlex - the largest indoor space for recreational activities at sea
  • Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade with club-level views of the SeaPlex
  • Reimagined Adventure Ocean kids program and a maxed-out teen lounge with gaming consoles, music and movies
  • Teppanyaki restaurant
  • Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar
  • Two-level pool deck will feature two open-air, resort-style pools and four whirlpools with shady casitas and hammocks
  • FlowRider surf simulator
  • Skydiving with Ripcord by iFly
  • North Star glass capsule
  • Robot bartenders at Bionic Bar

Cruise industry wants you to tell your elected officials to let cruise ships restart

In:
25Mar2021
By: Matt Hochberg

A day after the cruise industry called on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to lift its cruise ship ban, they now want you to to help out too.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is imploring U.S. residents to email, call, and/or tweet elected officials in the House and Senate and tell them to urge the Biden Administration to lift the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO).

The new message is the strongest action yet by the group representing most of the cruise industry, including Royal Caribbean.

CLIA's goal is simple: have the CDC lift the CSO by July so that cruise ships can restart sailing from the United States.

Their argument to lift the order is based on data from almost 400,000 passengers that have sailed during the global health crisis with fewer than 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19 onboard CLIA member cruise line ships since resumption started last summer, based on public reporting. 

Moreover, the economic impact of the cruise industry being shutdown is claimed to be responsible for more than 300,000 jobs lost in the U.S. CLIA says the majority of those impacted are independent business owners or individuals employed by small- to medium-sized businesses. 

Cruise ships have been shutdown in the United States since March 2020, when the cruise industry volunteered to stop cruising in the early days of the global health crisis.  Since then, the CDC instituted a ban on cruise ships.

Since then, many other aspects of travel have either not been halted, or been allowed to restart, including airlines, hotels, theme parks, and casinos.

With the public's help, CLIA hopes to get an early-July restart in action that would be in line with President Biden’s forecast for when the US will be “closer to normal.” 

To make it easier, CLIA has set up a page where you can easily write an email or tweet, or call your government representative.

The cruise industry's stronger tone has come in the last few days.

Even Royal Caribbean Group Chairman Richard Fain has talked differently about the CDC, calling the CSO "unworkable".

In speaking about the CSO during a webinar, he said it is now out of date, "It calls for a four-phased process but four-and-a-half months into that, we are still in phase one and we still don’t know what will be required for phase two."

"You can see that's pretty unworkable for us and for the CDC.

CLIA President and CEO Kelly Craighead also spoke out this week to lead the charge in asking the CDC to lift its ban.

Craighead believes strict health protocols and the rapid pace of vaccination are what is needed for cruise ships to safely return to service, " the successful resumption of cruising in other parts of the world demonstrates that a return to cruising can and should occur here as well."

20 Adventure of the Seas tips, tricks and secrets

In:
25Mar2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas packs a lot of family fun, activities and things to do onboard.

If you want to know the best ways to maximize your time and money, here are some of my top tips for anyone going on Adventure of the Seas.

These tips should ensure you have a great time onboard.

Adventure of the Seas got a refurbishment in 2018

In 2018, Royal Caribbean sent Adventure of the Seas for an extensive refurbishment that added a variety of new amenities onboard the ship.

The work was split between two dry docks: one in 2016 and the other in 2018, but the ship now offers water slides, new dining venues, new staterooms and a Suite Lounge.

Only ship with Izumi on Royal Promenade

So far, Adventure of the Seas is the only Royal Caribbean ship with an Izumi location on the Royal Promenade.

Izumi has been one of the fastest spreading specialty restaurants across Royal Caribbean, but on other Voyager Class ships, it has been added to either the top of the ship or near the Schooner Bar on Deck 4.

Only on Adventure can you enjoy sushi with a view of the comings and goings of the Royal Promenade.

How to avoid waits for the water slides

Perhaps no activity is as popular as the Perfect Storm water slides on Adventure of the Seas, but there are some easy ways to avoid a long wait.

Bring your bathing suit on embarkation day and change once you are on the ship to take advantage of the short lines for the slides. Most people are not even thinking about going on the water slide on the first day, so this is the best time to try it out.

Another good strategy is to ride the slides when they open up in the morning.  That first hour is usually not bad with lines.

You can also try the water slides while the ship is in port.  Many other guests are off the ship on tours, leaving less competition for the slides.

Try booking one of the new staterooms

During the ship's latest refurbishment, more than 100 new staterooms were added.

Chief among the new rooms are the oceanview panoramic staterooms on deck 12 that were added.

These rooms have an incredible view from anywhere in the cabin, with a floor to ceiling wrap around panoramic window that is 76 inches high by 103-321 inches wide. 

Restaurants included with your cruise on Adventure of the Seas

Wondering where you can eat with no additional cost on Adventure of the Seas?

Here is a list of options:

  • Windjammer (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • Main Dining Room (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • Cafe Promenade (Early morning until late night)

Keep in mind there may be some extra cost items at these locations.

Read moreFood on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Specialty dining packages can save you money

If you plan on eating at more than 1 or 2 specialty restaurants while on Adventure of the Seas, you probably should invest in a dining package.

Specialty dining packages offer a fixed cost for some, or even unlimited, specialty restaurants during your cruise.

There are four specialty restaurants on Adventure of the Seas that are included with the packages:

  • Johnny Rockets
  • Giovanni's Table
  • Chop's Grille
  • Izumi

I would not recommend eating at Johnny Rockets with your package (pay for it individually instead), and save your credits for the big three choices.

Be sure to buy dining packages before your cruise to save even more money.

Two days in a row at Perfect Day at CocoCay!

Special just for the summer 2021 cruises from Nassau, Adventure of the Seas will offer the rare double dip to Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas.

Adventure will spend two consecutive days at Perfect Day at CocoCay, which means lots of time to explore and enjoy Royal Caribbean's little slice of paradise.

A good strategy is to pre-book anything you want to do at CocoCay to avoid it selling out. 

Read moreDo's & Don'ts of Perfect Day at CocoCay

Read Cruise Compass to see entertainment each night

There will be nightly entertainment around the ship , so be sure to read about what is offered in your Cruise Compass.

Each evening, your stateroom attendant will deliver a new copy of the next day's schedule.  You can also find the schedule in Royal Caribbean's app.

It is a good idea to read about what is coming up, so you can plan ahead for the must-see shows.

Download Royal Caribbean's app

Royal Caribbean's app has gone from "nice to have" to "must have" quite quickly, and it is your key for a smoother experience overall.

Not only does Royal Caribbean's app allow for a smoother and faster embarkation process, it makes managing your schedule super easy.

Royal Caribbean has even said that its app is required, so download the app before you leave home and ensure it is set up prior to arriving.

Read moreThe Royal Caribbean App: Everything you should know

Try to learn to surf

Adventure of the Seas features the FlowRider surf simulator, which allows anyone to try stand up surfing.

The FlowRider is complimentary, although you can reserve private time for an extra cost to give you lots of reps without waiting.

Just like the water slides tip, the best time to check out the FlowRider is on embarkation day or while the ship is in port.

Read moreEverything about the Flowrider on Royal Caribbean ships

Go to the helipad during sailaway

My favorite part of any Voyager Class ship is the helipad at the bow of the ship.

You can walk to the helicopter pad and enjoy unobstructed views that are perfect for sailaway.

To access the helicopter pad, go outside on deck 5 and then walk forward, climb up a set of stairs and continue walking forward until you reach the helicopter pad.

Register kids for Adventure Ocean on the first day

If you have kids, there is complimentary kids programming that is supervised and a lot of fun.

Children are separated into different age groups to ensure programming is appropriate:

  • Aquanauts: 3-5 years old
  • Explorers: 6-8 years old
  • Voyagers: 9-11 years old
  • Teens: 12-14, 15-17 years old.

Adventure Ocean is run every day, but you want to register them on the first day of your cruise.

There will be an open house held (usually in the early afternoon) of the first day of the cruise, so be sure to go up to meet the staff and meet the staff. Plus, it will save you time later.

Read moreCruising with kids on Royal Caribbean

Try mini-golf at night

Mini-golf is a great family activity, but nighttime is a great time to try it out.

There is very little shade on the mini-golf course, so going at night means it will be more comfortable to play.  Moreover, there are less people to contend with at night, so no waiting to put.

You can go ice skating

Did you know there is an ice skating rink on Adventure of the Seas? And you can go skating on it?

Adventure of the Seas has an ice skating rink in Studio B where one of the ship's best shows is performed during your cruise (more on that later), but guests can also don a pair of ice skates and hit the ice rink too!

Check the Cruise Compass for open skate sessions during your sailing.  Royal Caribbean will provide you with complimentary ice skate and safety equipment rentals. 

Be sure to pack long pants and socks.

Peek-a-boo bridge

It may sound weird, but there is something called 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.

Don't miss the Tutti Salad Bar

On sea days, do yourself a favor, and go down to the main dining room for lunch.

Not only is there a special menu available to order from, but the center of the dining room has a large salad bar area where you can pick your favorite ingredients to make a fresh salad, just the way you like it.

The balcony dividers do not open on Adventure

If you have had adjoining balcony cabins on other Royal Caribbean ships, you might have been able to open up the balcony divider to create a giant balcony. Unfortunately, that is not possible on Adventure of the Seas.

The first three Voyager Class ships (Voyager, Adventure & Explorer) balcony dividers are not physically possible to open because they are bolted shut. 

Restrooms with a view

If you go to the men's or ladies restrooms on Deck 11 near the Windjammer, you get a nice view.

A floor-to-ceiling window greets guests in the public restroom outside at these restrooms only.

Free sauna and steam room

The fitness center locker rooms have a free sauna, steam room, and very large showers for anyone to use free of charge. 

The showers are great for families, and the sauna and steam rooms are lesser-known amenities open to guests on Adventure of the Seas.

Try one of the culinary classes

Adventure of the Seas offers some fun ways to learn to make food on your cruise.

The Cupcake Decorating class is a way to be creative with sugar and frosting, and then you get to eat your creation!

The sushi making class is a combination of meal and learning, where you get to learn from a sushi chef how to make traditional and modern sushi specialties.

You can sign up for either of these classes before the cruise on the Cruise Planner site, or once onboard your ship.  Both classes have an extra cost.

Royal Caribbean Group CEO talks "question that everybody is concerned about" on a cruise ship

In:
25Mar2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Ever since the cruise industry shutdown in March 2020, executives have been looking for ways to restart cruises safely, but there is one concern that is at the top of everyone's mind.

During a webinar with travel agents this week, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain spoke on a variety of topics, including how the cruise line is working with governments to ensure everyone onboard and in the communities they visit safe.

In his discussion, Mr. Fain touched on the one question that he says everybody is concerned about: an outbreak on a ship.

Between Royal Caribbean, the Healthy Sail Panel, and government officials, Mr. Fain said the issue of how to handle a case onboard is at the top of the list of tasks associated with cruises restarting.

"We don't want to have a situation where somebody has a case, because you don't go anywhere without somebody having a case on land or sea, but where somebody can have a case and infect other people."

"You end up in a situation where you have an outbreak and that disrupts the vacation of everybody on board."

"We had preplanned programs for taking care of that...we have contact tracing of amazing sophistication, so we're able to catch the case early, isolate it, and not disrupt either the vacations of the other guests, but also not cause a problem to the local community."

This plan that Mr. Fain refers to has been a success so far with local governments, and he believes the buy-in from government is allowing more ships to return to service this summer.

"It's been very successful. And you can see this, the momentum is building. It is very much speeding up. More and more places are seeing the value of this and seeing that the system works. And so we're moving forward."

Role of vaccines in cruises this summer

While Royal Caribbean says it has not made a determination on if the Covid-19 vaccine will be required across the fleet, ships that have been announced to restart cruises this summer all require it.

Will vaccine be required for all sailings in the future or simply those specific international homeport?

Mr. Fain said right now it depends on the port.

"It's determined on a case by case basis in cooperation, in dialogue with the local authorities."

However, the role of vaccines today, June, or later this summer could change.

"As the science continues to progress, I think we will change and we will adjust to that. And I think we're now trying to predict the future. Remember, these cruises don't start till June. And so we're starting on this basis that they will require vaccines, but that could change tomorrow."

"We do respond to the facts and the evidence, and so we started out on the new cruises that we've announced and they are going to require initially vaccines. But we don't know how long that will be a feature."

What about the CDC?

The road to cruise ships restarting in the United States runs right through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Mr. Fain spoke about the status of things with the CDC.

Taking a slightly different tone than previous comments about the CDC, Mr. Fain called the current situation with the Conditional Sail Order as "pretty unworkable".

Fain cited the fact four and half months after the Conditional Sail Order was announced, cruise ships are still in phase one.

"You can see that's pretty unworkable for us and for the CDC. And we think that that the science is simply moved ahead of the Conditional Sail Order."

"It's now out of date. And we, and the Healthy Sail Panel, and I think others in the industry, feel that the time is to move on in light of the dramatic changes we've seen in three areas, the vaccine, the testing and the contact tracing."

Jewel of the Seas will sail from Cyprus in July

In:
25Mar2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Another Royal Caribbean cruise ship has been redeployed this summer to sail from a new homeport.

Beginning on July 10, Royal Caribbean announced Jewel of the Seas will sail from Limassol, Cyprus.

This is the first time a Royal Caribbean ship has called Cyprus its homeport and will offer 7-night cruises to the Greek Isles through October.

Port stops will include Limassol, Athens, Greece and the Greek islands of Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos and Santorini.

Guests can start booking Jewel of the Seas beginning on April 7.

Just like Royal Caribbean's other ships that have been redeployed for this summer, the crew members will be vaccinated and adults must be fully vaccinated as well. Those under the age of 18 may sail with negative test results. These current health and safety measures, like others, may evolve as they are evaluated on an ongoing basis.

Details on the health and safety measures to be implemented will be announced at a later date. 

Jewel of the Seas is now the fourth Royal Caribbean ship to be redeployed to a new homeport this summer so that it can offer a cruise season from a non-traditional homeport.

Just like all three ships, adults onboard must be fully vaccinated from Covid-19 in order to sail.

In addition, Grandeur of the Seas will sail from Barbados in December.

"I’m delighted to announce our safe and gradual return to Europe. We know how eager our guests are to enjoy a getaway this summer, and these sailings, which include a mix of fantastic destinations and must-visit islands, make for the perfect getaway,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International."

"Cyprus is a beautiful island, and we are thankful to the Cypriot government for their support and enthusiasm in making these incredible itineraries possible."

Cancelled cruises

As a result of moving Jewel of the Seas to Cyprus, previously scheduled sailings on her between June and October 2021 are now cancelled.

Specifically, Royal Caribbean has canceled the scheduled Jewel of the Seas summer sailings departing June 7 - October 31, 2021. Anyone with a canceled sailing can choose from one of the following compensation options:

  1. A refund of all funds paid
  2. An elevated 125% Future Cruise Credit to sail with Royal Caribbean® at a later date 
  3. An opportunity to Lift & Shift your client’s reservation to a similar cruise next year

Soon, all impacted guests and associated travel agencies will receive an email notification with additional details pertaining to these compensation options.

Royal Caribbean Group CEO gives updates on Europe and Alaska 2021 cruise chances

In:
24Mar2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Will that Royal Caribbean cruise to Europe or Alaska actually sail this year?

That question is among one of the most asked concerns out there, and Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard provided his outlook for these regions.

So far, Royal Caribbean has cancelled May cruises in Europe and Alaska, but the rest of the cruise season remains intact.

During a webinar with travel agents, Mr. Fain said there is still going to be a Europe season, but it won't be the same.

"A lot depends on some of the regulatory hurdles that we're dealing with today, " Fain explained. "there'll be a European season, I believe. I certainly hope that it will be a large one. And I hope that this momentum carries us forward and allows us to make the kinds of decisions that we need to make now."

"It takes months to activate a ship. We not only need permission to be doing things, we need their permission sufficiently in advance to enable us to prepare for it. So late permission is equivalent to a denial."

"I do think you're going to see a good European season this summer."

What about Alaska? Mr. Fain's proverbial crystal ball was less clear.

Canada banned cruise ships for an entire year, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) still has a ban of cruise ships in the United States.

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean's Alaska cruises are not cancelled yet.

"We've been very pleased and appreciative of the support we've gotten from members of Congress, from others who have spoken on not on our behalf, but on behalf of the small businesses in Alaska that depend on tourism for their livelihood."

"I can tell you that we and others are working on it. I don't think I feel confident enough to make a prediction as to whether we and they will be successful."

Latest on working with the CDC

Alaska, and to a lesser degree Europe, are tied very much to what happens with the CDC and their Conditional Sail Order.

Echoing CLIA's statement earlier today, Mr. Fain took a different tone in discussing what is or is not happening with the CDC.

In reference to the Conditional Sail Order, he said, "it calls for four-phases, but four-and-a-half months into that, we are still in phase one and we still don’t know what will be required for phase two."

"That is pretty unworkable, for us and the CDC."

"We think that that the science has moved ahead of the Conditional Sail Order. It was a very good process way back when. Back in October of last year we thought it was a positive, and it's now out of date."

Cruise industry calls on CDC to let cruise ships sail again

In:
24Mar2021
By: Matt Hochberg

A cruise industry association has called on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to let cruise ships restart.

CLIA officially called on the CDC to lift the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO), citing it being "outdated" and not reflective of current conditions.

Specifically, CLIA wants the CSO lifted so that cruise ships can restart sailings form the United States at the beginning of July, to match President Biden’s forecast for when the United States will be “closer to normal.” 

By lifting the CSO, cruise lines would not have to conduct test sailings, or any of the other requirements outlined by the CSO. Instead, cruise lines would implement new health protocols and rule changes aimed at making ships as safe as possible.

CLIA cites statistics of extremely low Covid-19 rates on cruise ships sailing elsewhere in the world as proof cruises can operate safely. Ships sailing in Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific have carried almost 400,000 passengers and had fewer than 50 based on public reports. This is "dramatically lower than the rate on land or in any other transportation mode."

Moreover, CLIA says the CDC has failed to follow through with the spirit of the CSO when it was implemented back in October 2020. Since then, the CDC has not released any further guidance, as called for in the CSO, to support the resumption of U.S. cruise operations.

"The lack of any action by the CDC has effectively banned all sailings in the largest cruise market in the world," CLIA said in a press release. "Cruising is the only sector of the U.S. economy that remains prohibited, even as most others have opened or continued to operate throughout the pandemic. "

"The outdated CSO, which was issued almost five months ago, does not reflect the industry’s proven advancements and success operating in other parts of the world, nor the advent of vaccines, and unfairly treats cruises differently. Cruise lines should be treated the same as other travel, tourism, hospitality, and entertainment sectors, " said Kelly Craighead, CLIA’s President and CEO.  

Proving CLIA's point, Carnival Cruise Line's CEO recently pointed out they are still waiting for instructions from the CDC on how to proceed.

By keeping cruise lines shutdown, CLIA says it has cost jobs and revenue to the U.S. economy.

CLIA estimates restarting cruises as part of the broader travel industry will provide a much-needed boost to the U.S. economy—with the cruise industry supporting nearly 450,000 American jobs and contributing over $55.5 billion annually, prior to the pandemic.  

Based on economic modeling by research firm BREA, more than 300,000 jobs have been lost in the United States due to the suspension of cruises. 

While the U.S. remains on the sidelines of cruising, Royal Caribbean and other lines have begun plans to sail from other countries in order to bypass the CDC.

Royal Caribbean will offer Adventure of the Seas and Vision of the Seas this summer from the Bahamas and Bermuda, respectively. Celebrity Cruises will sail from St. Maarten on the Celebrity Millennium.

The rationale for the No Sail Order and the CSO has been a fear that cruise ships are inherently unsafe because Covid-19 can more easily spread there.

In the CDC's Executive Summary of the No Sail Order, they cite data on COVID-19 cases aboard cruise ships from early 2020 as impetus for the rule.

New Adventure of the Seas sailings out of Nassau, Bahamas now available to book

In:
24Mar2021
By: Matt Hochberg

If you want to reserve a spot on one of the first Royal Caribbean sailings in North America, your opportunity has arrived.

UPDATE: The new Adventure of the Seas sailings from Nassau, Bahamas are available to book via Royal Caribbean's website, phone, or through a travel agent.

The new bookings are available to book immediately, beginning with the June 12 sailing. Sailings between June and August 2021 are open for booking.

Any nationality or residency may book these sailings, but all guests 18 years or older must be fully vaccinated by the time of sailing.

All crew on Adventure of the Seas will be vaccinated for COVID-19 before the sailings begin.

Specifically:

  • For guests 18 years of age and older, proof of being fully vaccinated for COVID - 19
  • Proof of a negative SARS- Co V- 2 RT- PCR test result for entry into the country where you are sailing from (age requirements vary by jurisdiction)
  • Completed Royal Caribbean Health Questionnaire, available in the app 24 hours before sailing
  • Typical t ravel documents, including passport or any visas as required by the departure country

The new sailings will have a variety of new health and safety protocols to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 onboard. These rules will be announced closer to the start of sailings.

These Adventure of the Seas sailings will not visit any U.S. ports of call in order to bypass approval of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For the first time ever, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship will sail from Nassau, Bahamas. Itineraries include stops at Perfect Day at CocoCay (two visits per sailing), Cozumel and Grand Bahama Island.

For over a year, the CDC has banned cruise ships from sailing in U.S. waters because of the global health crisis, and there is no end in sight when that restriction may be lifted.

Adventure of the Seas will be among a handful of ships to restart operations this summer, following the successful relaunch of Quantum of the Seas in Singapore in late 2020.

Odyssey of the Seas will sail from Haifa, Israel to the Mediterranean, and Vision of the Seas will sail from Bermuda to the Bahamas.  Both ships will have cruises beginning in June.

Next week, Vision of the Seas cruises from Bermuda will go on sale.

While four ships is a small fraction of Royal Caribbean's fleet, it is a significant achievement for a cruise line that has bled money quarter after quarter, and barely had any sailings. Moreover, this marks the first possible return for Americans to cruise.

Royal Caribbean announces Vision of the Seas will sail from Bermuda

In:
23Mar2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced its second cruise ship to restart North American cruises will be Vision of the Seas from Bermuda.

Similar to the cruise line's announcement last week that Adventure of the Seas would restart cruises from The Bahamas, Vision of the Seas will sail from outside the United States so that it can offer cruises sooner and without approval from the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Building on the cruise line's slow and calculated return to service, Vision of the Seas will begin sailing from Bermuda and offer cruises that visit Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Just like Adventure of the Seas, sailings on Vision of the Seas will require all adults above the age of 18 to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

The cruise line also said current health and safety measure, like others, may evolve as they are evaluated on an ongoing basis.

In addition, travelers must meet the travel requirements of Bermuda. This currently includes receiving a negative PCR test result before traveling, testing upon arrival into the country and filling out appropriate entry forms. The most up-to-date policies can be found on Bermuda’s website.

Guests under the age of 18 will need to provide a negative RT-PCR test result.

The itinerary will be:

  • Bermuda
  • Sea day
  • Sea day
  • Perfect Day at CocoCay
  • Sea Day
  • Bermuda
  • Bermuda

Vision will begin sailings from Bermuda as soon as June 26, 2021. Vision will be offering a summer season between June through August 2021.

The new sailings open for booking on March 29.

As a result of this redeployment, previously scheduled Vision of the Seas sailings departing from San Juan, Puerto Rico are cancelled.

Those guests currently confirmed on impacted sailings departing June 6 — August 29, 2021 can choose from one of the following compensation options:

  • A refund of all funds paid
  • An elevated 125% Future Cruise Credit to sail with Royal Caribbean at a later date

All impacted guests and associated travel agencies will soon receive an email notification to present a more detailed version of these compensation options.

In the meantime, cruises lines continue to wrestle with the CDC for progress at a glacial pace that will hopefully allow cruise ships to begin offering test sailings.

Right now, Royal Caribbean is waiting for technical instructions from the CDC on what ships need to do in order to be ready for the simulated voyages need to prove cruises can restart safely.

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said earlier this week that he still doesn't know when cruises will restart in the US.

"As most of you know, the order called for several phases and for the CDC to issue detailed technical rules for each phase. The first of such technical rules was scheduled to be released in December, and many of you was asked when we expect to receive them. In fact, I would answer that the pace of science has simply overcome that process."

"We don't know what the CDC is contemplating to address this very different set of circumstances. But just as they and other public health officials are doing elsewhere, we expect they will all adjust to the changes that have been and are taking place today."

"The Conditional Sail Order was a very positive step at the time, but that time has passed. We look forward to a constructive dialogue with health officials in the United States and elsewhere for the path forward under these new circumstances."

Cruise FAQ: Saving Money

In:
23Mar2021
By: Ashley Kosciolek

Whether you're on a strict vacation planning budget or have unlimited funds, it's great to feel like you've scored the most bang for your buck.

We've noted your burning questions about saving money on cruises. Check out the answers below, and find out how to hold on to more of your hard-earned cash.

How can I save money on a cruise?

The easiest thing you can do is familiarize yourself with standard cruise pricing across the industry so you'll know a good deal when you see one. If you need help, sign up for price drop alerts -- Cruise Critic, Cruise Watch, Cruiseline and Cruise Fish offer them -- that will tell you when fares have decreased.

You can also sign up for cruise line newsletters that will alert you to special deals and promotions on that voyage you've been eyeing.

Additionally, if you live near a cruise port and have a flexible schedule, be on the lookout for last-minute resident rates.

Another trick, partiuclarly if you don't anticipate spending much time in your room, is to book a less-swanky cabin. Choose an inside or oceanview stateroom instead of a balcony, for example.

For further savings after you're already onboard, you can book your next sailing while you're still on the present one. Most cruise ships have a future cruise desk, where cruise line representatives will almost always try to entice you to make a new reservation by reducing or waiving deposits or throwing in extras like dining, drink packages or onboard credit.

You can also seek to save a few bucks by reserving shore excursions that are independent of the cruise line. If spa treatments are your thing, ask about discounts for booking more than one, or make an appointment for a service on a port day, when services are often cheaper because most cruisers are ashore.

Working with a travel agent is another great way to increase value for money....

Can a travel agent save you money on a cruise?

Although travel agents can't offer discounts on cruise fares below what the cruise lines themselves are offering, they can toss in perks like onboard credit, free alternative dining, or beverage or Wi-Fi packages.

You won't see a reduction in the amount you pay for your cabin, but you will be receiving more value for your money. This is also true in terms of peace of mind. If something goes wrong your sailing, you have a professional point person to handle the mess on your behalf.

Read more10 Secrets Royal Caribbean travel agents wish you knew

What should you not buy on a cruise?

  • Duty-free items: Sometimes duty-free purchases are a bargain, but often you're better off buying alcohol, jewelry and other pricey items at home instead, especially if they're brands that are easy to find elsewhere. On Europe sailings, for example, you won't pay duty, but you will pay VAT, which generally wipes out any savings you might have earned via a duty-free transaction.
  • Drink of the day glasses: Sure, drinks of the day are yummy, but did you know you can often save a couple of dollars if you ask for the same beverage without the souvenir glass? (Trust us: You won't use it again, probably because it will break in your luggage on the way home.)
  • For more, check out our longer list of other items not to buy on a cruise.

Is it better to book directly with a cruise line?

Although booking with your cruise line will eliminate the middle man, you won't get a cheaper price, and it's not always the best idea in terms of value.

Travel agents cannot discount fares further than what the cruise line is offering, but they can make sure you get the same price and help you to score extras -- like onboard credit or free alcohol -- that will add value to what you get for your money.

Read moreTop things you didn't know travel agents can do for your cruise vacation

Can you negotiate cruise prices?

No, cruise lines don't negotiate. However, prices often fluctuate with demand, seasonality and other variables, so the best way for you to find the lowest fares is to monitor pricing over several months before booking anything.

Some cruise lines do allow passengers to bid on cabin upgrades if there are unsold rooms available as the sailing date approaches. If you are offered the chance to bid, you can enter a dollar amount that you think the upgrade is worth, but there's no guarantee you'll get it for that price if it's too low or if someone else outbids you.

Read moreHow to get cheap cruise deals

Is it cheaper to prepay gratuities on a cruise?

No. Each cruise line has a set per-person, per-day amount that it will charge to each cruiser's onboard account, based on the type of cabin in which they're staying. That amount doesn't increase or decrease based on when the gratuities are paid.

However, you can often find cruise deals that include gratuities in the fares, which means you'll see a bit more value from the booking.

Read moreShould you prepay gratuities for a Royal Caribbean cruise?

What happens if I book a cruise and the price goes down?

If you haven't yet reached the end of the final payment window, you can call your travel agent or cruise line to ask for a price adjustment. Generally they will oblige.

If you've already paid for your cruise in full, you can work with your cruise line to see if, given the circumstances, they might offer you an upgrade.

If that doesn't work, you could book the sailing at the new, lower price and cancel the original booking. However, if you've already made final payment, you'll lose a portion of your money, so the key is to make sure the savings on your new booking will outweigh the money you lose when you cancel the original one.

Also be sure to check that you won't be losing any value adds or promotions -- onboard credit, included gratuities, etc. -- that might have been associated with the original reservation, as there's no guarantee they'll still be available for the new one.

Read moreHow Royal Caribbean will let you take advantage of a price drop up until 48 hours before your cruise

What is the cheapest month to take a cruise?

The cheapest time to cruise is during hurricane season, the period of time between June and November when hurricanes are most likely to occur in the Atlantic.

If you book a cruise to the Bahamas or Caribbean during that timeframe, be aware that itineraries can and will be altered if bad weather poses a threat to passenger safety, and passengers are not entitled to compensation if that happens.

Read moreWhat is the cheapest month to go on a cruise?

Do cruises get cheaper closer to departure?

Yes, but it won't be widely publicized. This is particularly true for higher-end cabins, so if you have your heart set on a suite or balcony stateroom, don't bank on finding a deal a month before sailing.

The best way to find out about discounts on unsold rooms is to ask your travel agent to let you know of any deals they spot, sign up for price drop alerts, and be on the lookout for last-minute resident deals if you live near a cruise port.

Read moreHow far in advance should I book a cruise to get the best price?

How much cash should you bring on a cruise?

The payment system on modern cruise ships is cashless. Before you embark, you'll either tie a set amount of cash or a credit card to your onboard account. You will then be given a room key that also functions as your onboard charge card.

However, you should still bring some small bills for tipping luggage porters at embarkation, crew members who deliver your bags and room service to your cabin, and tour guides and transportation operators you think have done a particularly good job during any shore excursions you take.

Although daily gratuities are automatically added to your onboard account, you might also choose to tip extra in cash to crew members who have been particularly helpful. These amounts are totally at your discretion.

Finally, cash is useful in port if you're hoping to buy souvenirs. If you're going somewhere that takes U.S. dollars, withdraw money before you board, as ship ATMs are notorious for exorbitant surcharges. If you're cruising someplace (like Europe) that won't take USD, wait until you get there, and find an ATM in port that will dispense local currency at a much better exchange rate than the airport kiosks.

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