Royal Caribbean added a series of new protocols to its ships to detect Covid-19 cases early, and the system in place identified two unvaccinated teenage passengers who tested positive for Covid-19 on Adventure of the Seas.
According to Royal Caribbean, two teenagers on Adventure of the Seas were in isolation and then disembarked in Freeport earlier today.
Their parents, who are vaccinated, tested negative.
As part of Royal Caribbean's multi-faceted plan in preparation for a scenario like this, the medical care and transportation home will be handled by the cruise line.
The cases were caught during end of cruise testing, which is required at the end of a sailing.
Here is Royal Caribbean's official statement:
Two guests on Adventure of the Seas tested positive for COVID-19 after routine testing that is required before returning home. Here are the facts:
- Both guests, under the age of 16 and unvaccinated, were immediately quarantined. One guest is asymptomatic, and the other guest is experiencing mild symptoms.
- Those in their immediate travel party are vaccinated and have tested negative.
- Close contacts were quickly identified and tested. All are vaccinated and tested negative.
The guests and their travel party disembarked today in Freeport, The Bahamas and are on their way home to Florida. Ninety-two percent of our guests on Adventure are fully vaccinated and the remaining 8% are under 16 years old. One hundred percent of our crew are fully vaccinated.
Adventure of the Seas is the first Royal Caribbean International ship to restart operations in North America, and she is on her second sailing back in operation.
On Adventure of the Seas sailings from The Bahamas, guests who are 16 years of age and older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and those 12 and older as of Aug. 1. In addition, anyone unvaccinated had to get a negative PCR test result in order to board the ship.
All crew members are fully vaccinated as well.
While the ship is sailing from outside the United States, Royal Caribbean's safety rules have been in development over the past year during the cruise industry's shutdown. This includes testing, mandatory health screenings, online check-ins and contact tracing through CCTV cameras.
The ships have been upgraded to prepare for a situation like this, with immediate medical evaluations, rapid Covid-19 testing and dedicated zones for Covid-19 care, more critical care beds on each ship, and robust treatment plans.
Royal Caribbean has been keenly aware of the statistical likelihood of positive cases onboard, but they worked on how to catch it early and avoid it becoming a major issue.
Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said the Health Sail Panel of health experts has worked on this specific contingency, "A really important part and a really big focus of the panel's effort was on how to respond if we do have a case that gets on board."
"We respond properly. We have a extensive contingency plan so that we don't have to go through one of these processes of quarantining huge numbers of people. We take care of the the the small number that we catch early and everybody else can go about their business."
Royal Caribbean Group Senior Vice President of Shared Services Operations recently spoke about the importance of these protocols to keep crew members and guests safe.
"All of the different things that we’ve done technology-wise as well as with testing and safety, those are going to stay. Those are Royal Caribbean protocols, whether or not they’re required of us or not," Ms. Hodges Bethge said.
"We feel very good that we have some of the strongest kind of processes of anywhere you go in the world today."
Royal Caribbean developed a plan to respond to a scenario such as this, and coordinated these plans with the Bahamanian government.
According to Royal Caribbean's health protocols, in the event a guest tests positive for Covid-19, a "robust, tiered response plan" goes into effect.
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 guests home safely.
In fact, Royal Caribbean identified early that being "stuck" in quarantine on a cruise ship was not something any guest wanted, and a result, Royal Caribbean has developed transport agreements with local authorities in a situation like this to get everyone home safely.
Following a two-night cruise, Freedom of the Seas has completed a test cruise under the supervision of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC).
Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley celebrated the completion of the mandated test sailing in a social media post on Tuesday.
"Today Freedom of the Seas returned to Terminal A, Port of Miami after completing its 3 day, 2 night simulated voyage to Perfect Day at Coco Cay."
"Huge Thank you to our Operations team and all our crew! Onwards and upwards!"
He added that the CDC was part of the test cruise experience, and that the experience went well, "The CDC sailed with us ! Wrap up meeting this morning and looks like all is good."
According to Mr. Bayley, Royal Caribbean is now waiting for feedback from the CDC following the test voyage.
Freedom of the Seas is scheduled to sail from PortMiami on July 2, which would be the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to resume operations from the United States.
In addition, he added Royal Caribbean will shoot off fireworks on its first sailing when Freedom visits Perfect Day at CocoCay on July 4th.
Freedom of the Seas is the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to conduct and complete her test cruises.
Test cruises are part of the Conditional Sail Order (CSO) that the CDC implemented as a way for cruise ships to resume operations.
Since Royal Caribbean will not require at least 95% of its cruise passengers to be fully vaccinated, test cruises are needed to demonstrate to the CDC that the onboard health protocols work.
All of the crew members on Freedom of the Seas are fully vaccinated as well.
These test cruises are conducted with unpaid volunteers, per the CDC's requirements.
Royal Caribbean restarted cruises from North America with Adventure of the Seas last week, and there are plenty of questions about what it is like to be onboard.
I asked for which questions folks still have, and I'll do my best to answer as many as I can right here.
If it puts your boarding time at 1pm, can you still try to get there early like you used to be able to or not because of the screening?
The answer is no, you cannot check-in earlier than your scheduled time you get the via app.
Before the cruise industry shutdown, check-in times were more of a suggestion, but now they are enforced.
You can, however, drop off your luggage at the British Colonial Hilton before your check-in tine, so that you can walk around Nassau unencumbered.
How do you think protocols for cruises originating in the US might change compared to those you’re experiencing now?
Royal Caribbean is still working on its protocols for all ships and sailings from the United States, but we know about the protocols for Freedom of the Seas from Miami.
Compared to Freedom, the most noticeable changes will be the requirement of face masks for vaccinated and unvaccinated guests indoors in certain situations, the possibility to cruise without being a fully vaccinated adult, and vaccinated-only venues.
I'll compare and contrast the experiences when I sail on Freedom of the Seas next week, and I will absolutely be sharing what it is like with all of you.
Are they cleaning the cabins every day?
Yes, the service provided by your stateroom attendant remains unchanged from what you experienced earlier.
Stateroom attendants visit your room twice a day still, including turn down service in the evening.
Which ship amenities, such as hot tubs and gym, require an advanced reservation that would not have pre-COVID?
To the best of my knowledge, here is what has advanced reservations now that did not before
- Theater entertainment (this did not exist on Adventure, although Oasis and Quantum class ships had it)
- Studio B ice skating show
- Fitness center
- Adventure Ocean
Can you sit with other guests in the main dining room?
I double checked with the Maitre d' to confirm the policy has not changed.
Whether in specialty restaurants or the main dining room, you can only dine with other guests if your reservation numbers are linked.
I am wondering what the kids club is like now?
Adventure Ocean is open, but with limited capacity.
The biggest changes are you register via an iPad instead of paper, and there are limited hours available initially.
Very similar to how Royal Caribbean's nursery works, the staff provide an allotment of hours to register for on the first day to ensure everyone has a fair chance at booking time.
On the first sailing, they gave everyone 15 hours to book, but that dropped to 12 hours for this sailing.
You can book up to the 12 hour limit initially, and then by day 3 or so, they open bookings without a limit.
Are they selling the duty free alcohol on board the ship?
Yes, the duty free alcohol shop is still open on the Royal Promenade, along with all the shops.
You can shop at the jewelry, alcohol, and souvenir shops onboard during their regular hours.
In the Diamond Lounge, are they really swiping your card for every drink you get, including coke and water?
Yes, the adjusted Diamond, Diamond Plus, & Pinnacle benefits mean you get a daily allotment of drink vouchers to use instead of unlimited drinks while in the lounge.
I believe the intent of this change was to reduce demand for guests in the Diamond Lounge, but there are still plenty of guests in and around each evening.
Anyone treating your kids poorly (such as dirty looks) because they are unable to get vaccinated?
Absolutely not, I have not encountered anything like this onboard with our kids.
I make very certain my kids are following the rules onboard, especially wearing masks while indoors and ensuring their masks stay above their nose.
Otherwise, it's "business as usual" when it comes to kids onboard, and they are loving every minute of it.
Is a reservation for Windjammer a necessity, or do the walk-ins get in pretty quickly as well?
I have yet to actually need a reservation, but it is a possibility.
When you walk into the Windjammer, they ask for your stateroom number so they can keep track of how many people are in the restaurant.
Both of the first two sailings have had roughly the same passenger count (just over 1,000 passengers), and I asked the hostess at the Windjammer this morning if they had to enact the policy and turn someone away. Thus far, they have not had to do it.
As I understand it, for entry back in the U.S. you are required to provide a negative Covid test. Is Royal Caribbean providing Covid test on the ship prior to disembarkation?
Yes, you can register for an antigen test that Royal Caribbean will administer onboard towards the end of the sailing.
The test is complimentary, and administered in the main dining room on deck 5. There is a QR code in the Cruise Compass where you can get the link (although there is a kiosk at the entrance to the dining room where you can register as well).
The test result is emailed to you, as well as delivered via a print out to your stateroom.
What is procedure for back-to-back sailings?
The process for me was very similar to what it was before the industry shutdown.
- Meet at the dining room at an assigned time
- Do an antigen test
- Wait for results
- Get new SeaPass card
- Walk down to the gangway and check out of the first sailing, and then check into the new sailing
We did not have to actually disembark the ship.
To get off the ships in port do you still have to have purchase an excursion with Royal Caribbean? Or can you just go on your own?
You can book any tour you like, through the cruise line or on your own.
You can also walk around the port area.
Is the ship at limited capacity and do you have to wear masks all the time.
There is a limited capacity for these Adventure of the Seas sailings, although the exact number is not known.
There have been on the first two sailings just over 1,000 passengers.
Fully vaccinated passengers do not need to wear a mask onboard (indoors or outside). Some ports have mask requirements, such as Cozumel.
Unvaccinated guests (children on these cruises) need to wear masks while inside, unless they are seated for eating or drinking. They do not need to wear a mask outside, or at Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Are the Coke Freestyle machines still self service?
No, there is a crew member who will take your cup and fill it for you.
The first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to start test cruises is scheduled to set sail today.
Freedom of the Seas is in Miami to begin a short test cruise, which is a necessary step for revenue cruises to begin.
Royal Caribbean will have 100% of its crew members fully vaccinated on all its sailings.
Royal Caribbean announced a test cruise for Freedom of the Seas back in late May, and she will sail between June 20 - 22.
Simulated voyages (also known as test cruises) are when cruise lines can operate ships with volunteer passengers in order to prove their new protocols work.
These are not cruises you can book, but rather, are limited voyages where a cruise line invites certain unpaid volunteers to help go through all the necessary steps and procedures to ensure cruise ships can be run safely.
If all goes to plan, Freedom of the Seas is scheduled to begin revenue sailings from Miami on July 2, which would make her the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to restart revenue sailings from the United States.
Test cruise requirements
Test cruises come with a variety of requirements that must be completed in order to demonstrate the ship can be operated in a safe manner with the new health protocols
While the ship is indeed conducting a cruise as if it were a normal cruise, the CDC wants the cruise ship to test out procedures and ensure it can handle any health situation it could encounter.
Each ship must conduct at least one simulated cruise, and each voyage must be between 2-7 days in length with a least one overnight stay, including through embarkation, disembarkation, and post-disembarkation testing.
The CDC recommends a test cruise is at least 3 days with 2 overnight stays.
Passengers and crew must meet standards during the simulated voyage for hand hygiene, use of face masks, and social distancing for passengers and crew, as well as ship sanitation.
Royal Caribbean must modify meal service and entertainment venues to facilitate social distancing during the simulated voyage.
And then there is a laundry list of activities that the CDC says the ship needs to test across one or many separate test cruises:
- Embarkation and disembarkation procedures, as approved by U.S. port and local health authorities as part the cruise ship operator’s Phase 2A agreements, including procedures for terminal check-in.
- Onboard activities, including seating and meal service at dining and entertainment venues.
- Medical evacuation procedures.
- Transfer of symptomatic passengers or crew, or those who test positive for SARS-CoV-2, from cabins to isolation rooms.
- Onboard and shoreside isolation and quarantine, as per the terms of the cruise ship operator’s Phase 2A agreements, of at least 5% of all passengers and non-essential crew.
- Recreational activities that the cruise ship operator intends to offer as part of any restricted passenger voyages, e.g., casinos, spa services, fitness classes, gymnasiums.
- Private-island shore excursions if any are planned during restricted passenger voyages. The following measures must be observed on the private island:
- Only one ship can port at the island at any one time.
- A routine screening testing protocol must be implemented for island staff who are expected to interact with volunteer passengers or crew, unless they are fully vaccinated or have documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days.
- Mask use and social distancing must be observed in indoor areas while on the island.
- Port of call shore excursions if any are planned during restricted passenger voyages. The following measures must be observed on port of call shore excursions:
- Shore excursions must only include passengers and crew from the same ship.
- Cruise ship operator must ensure all shore excursion tour companies facilitate social distancing, mask wearing, and other COVID-19 public health measures throughout the tour while in any indoor areas.
- Cruise ship operators must have a protocol for managing persons with COVID-19 and close contacts at all foreign ports of call. At a minimum, the protocol must include the following:
- Disembarkation and housing of persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 needing shore-based hospital care and their travel companion(s) for the duration of their isolation or quarantine period.
- Commercial repatriation of U.S.-based persons with COVID-19 and close contacts only after meeting criteria to end isolation and quarantine per CDC guidance. For commercial repatriation of foreign-based persons with COVID-19 and close contacts, cruise ship operators must consult with all relevant public health authorities.
The last day of our cruise brings us to a new cruise port, Freeport.
Freeport is on Grand Bahama Island, and this is the first time I've been able to explore this port of call.
There are not many choices for what to do, so I booked a visit to the Grand Lucayan resort.
The Grand Lucayan is a famous resort on the island that Royal Caribbean is likely purchasing to transform as part of a new redevelopment project. I thought it might be nice to see what there is to do now, and how it looks like.
Our times in port were 7:00am to 3:30pm, so it made for limited hours on shore since nothing in any Caribbean port opens before 9am.
We walked through the port area, which had shops and bars. These were all closed, although some opened later in the day.
We took a taxi to the hotel (~$35 each way) to the hotel. Our taxi driver said we were his first fare in a year and a half.
Once we got to the hotel, we checked in at the front desk.
There are two resorts: The Grand Lucayan and Lighthouse Pointe. The Grand Lucayan is closed, but Lighthouse Pointe is open.
We arrived right around 9am, and I actually booked a hotel room on an all-inclusive rate. At the time of booking, the hotel was not taking day passes, but they are doing that now.
The day pass rate is $75 per adult, and $65 for kids.
With the all inclusive option, you get food and drinks at all the restaurants at Lighthouse Pointe, house wines by the glass, local beers, and bottled beers and some premium liquors.
Perrier Water, Vitamin water, Gatorade, Wine by the bottle, and top shelf brands are not included.
We immediately headed to the pool and beach.
There is an infinity pool and lap pool available, along with a hot tub. Both looked great, and there is chairs and umbrellas you can sit at.
The beach was really nice, and the sand was powdery soft. If it had not been mostly overcast, it would have been really pretty.
There was no waiter service, but the nearby beach bar was just steps away from the pool and beach. They opened at 11am and served drinks and lunch.
You can tell the resort is in need of some upgrade work, but for a day guest it was fine.
What stood out the most to me was the fact there were barely any other guests. For the first hour or two, we did not see anyone else at the beach or pool.
By the time we left, we saw perhaps 10 other guests in total. It was strange.
We had lunch from the pool bar, and they had a nice selection of food choices. Burgers, wings, fish and more. Pretty good quality and fresh cooked.
We had a nice time enjoying the infinity pool to ourselves. Being an all-inclusive, I'm certain we did not get our moneys worth in terms of food and drink, but it was interesting to see this resort in person.
Would I go back? I am debating that right now for our next sailing. It sounds like a lot of other cruisers did not enjoy their tours, so we may just stay onboard the ship next time.
A judge has granted an injunction against the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Conditional Sail Order (CSO), albeit with a few conditions.
Florida sued the CDC because it felt the CSO unfairly singled out one industry and was hurting Florida's economy.
Judge Steven D. Merryday issued a 124 page summary, in which he ruled Florida’s motion for preliminary injunction is granted for Florida ports, but it is not a simple lifting of the order.
The CDC is ordered now from enforcing against a cruise ship arriving in, within, or departing from a port in Florida the conditional sailing order and the later measures (technical guidelines, manuals, and the like).
However, this injunction is suspended until 12:01 a.m. EDT on JULY 18, 2021 1, at which time the conditional sailing order and the measures promulgated under the conditional sailing order will become a recommendation or guideline, and not be required.
Essentially, the CSO can be a consideration like it is for other industries, such as airlines, railroads, hotels, casinos, sports venues, buses, subways, and others.
In addition, the Judge opened up the possibility of the CDC revising the CSO into a "narrower injunction both permitting cruise ships to sail timely and remaining within CDC’s authority as interpreted in this order." They can propose such a measure no later than July 2, 2021.
If the CDC does go ahead with a revision, the new order "must support the proposed terms with current scientific evidence and fully disclose — if unavailable to the public — scientific evidence, including methodology, raw data, analysis, and the like and the names and qualifications of the scientists participating in the study, modeling, or the like."
Florida will get seven days to respond to such a revision by the CDC.
Rationale for granting the injunction
Why did Florida win it's court case?
In short, the CDC’s conditional sailing order and the implementing orders exceed the authority delegated to CDC.
There are four key reasons cited:
- Florida’s probability of success on the merits
- The imminent threat of irreparable injury to Florida
- The comparative injury depending on whether an injunction issues
- The imminent and material threat to the public interest
Florida Governor Ron Desantis sued the CDC in April as a way to combat the CDC holding cruise ships back.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody added at the time, "We have filed suit this morning just before meeting with you here today, against the administration, HHS and the CDC, demanding that the court find that this effective No Sail Order is unlawful and allow our cruises to resume safely."
One of the best things about going on a cruise ship is all the fun packed onboard, and a sea day is a great time to try it out.
Before we hit up the fun, the matter of testing was needed.
Royal Caribbean transformed deck 5 of the main dining room into a rapid test center, and guests had the choice of getting an antigen test today or tomorrow.
This test serves two purposes: satisfying Bahamian law and providing a test result to get back into the United States.
This was an antigen test, so it was quick and easy. Most people made reservations once onboard the ship for a time slot, although they seemed to have more availability and took walk-ins.
Since we are doing a back-to-back cruise, my kids had to get an antigen test, but my wife and I did not since we are both fully vaccinated.
Test results are emailed back to you, as well as delivered to your stateroom.
The weather today was not great, with lots of clouds and even some rain. The forecast was for things to clear up as we got closer to The Bahamas.
Something else new on Royal Caribbean is a new fleetwide drink menu.
Every few years, Royal Caribbean updates its drink menu for locations that do not have a specialized drink menu. One noticable difference with this year's edition is there is a focus on drinks sourced from Caribbean islands, as well as more attention to low alcohol and no alcohol drinks.
Royal Caribbean set up a sampling event where some of the new drinks could be sampled.
Don't worry, the menu is just a starting point, so you can still order all of your favorite cocktails.
With the weather iffy at best, we enjoyed some time relaxing onboard.
A few fellow RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers even took over a Blackjack table in the casino for some fun.
The casino is limiting tables to 4 people to enforce social distancing.
Dinner this evening took us to Izumi, which is the only location in the fleet on the Royal Promenade.
I love sushi, especially from Izumi, and they also have a menu of non-sushi items to enjoy as well.
After dinner, we went to Studio B to check out the ice skating show.
Many guests onboard were equally interested to see one of the ice show's cast, Jordan, who had been doing vlogs on her YouTube channel about being a crew member on Adventure of the Seas.
After the show, there was a comedian in the theater, who did a great job of working the crowd into his act.
In both Studio B and the theater, many seats and even entire rows are unavailable to sit in for social distancing purposes.
Tomorrow is our last day of the sailing, and we will be in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Royal Caribbean has announced to guests booked on its first cruise ship to restart cruises from the U.S. what health protocols and requirements they can expect.
Currently, this information only pertains to Freedom of the Seas sailings out of Miami in July 2021.
Freedom of the Seas will restart cruises from Miami with short sailings to The Bahamas.
The new protocols cover vaccinations, testing, masks and more.
As previously stated, Royal Caribbean recommends all guests 16 and older be fully vaccinated.
At check-in, guests will be asked to provide documentation of their vaccination, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. Those who are 16 and older and do not have or are unable to provide documentation will be considered unvaccinated.
Unvaccinated guests must undergo additional COVID-19 testing at their own expense, and follow the health protocols described below, which are based on guidance from the CDC.
Someone that does not wish to undergo or pay for additional testing, or adhere to these health and safety protocols, can ask for a refund.
All unvaccinated guests must undergo multiple COVID-19 tests.
Testing at the terminal prior to embarkation and onboard prior to disembarkation will be conducted by licensed and accredited third-party testing providers we have contracted.
Unvaccinated guests must register for this testing and agree to the third-party testing provider terms and conditions. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.
The total charge from the third-party testing vendor for these tests is $136. This amount will be applied to the guest’s onboard expense account.
Royal Caribbean will pay the testing vendor(s) on the guest’s behalf and will not retain any part of the testing costs.
For children not yet eligible to be vaccinated, we will cover the cost of any required testing.
Here are the testing requirements for unvaccinated guests during the cruise:
Unvaccinated guests 16 years of age and older will need to undergo an RT-PCR test administered by an accredited laboratory of the guest’s choice, and taken within three days of sailing.
Royal Caribbean will require documentation of a negative result for this test prior to embarkation. All costs for this test are the unvaccinated guest’s responsibility.
At the Terminal
Unvaccinated guests 2 years of age and older are required to take an RT-PCR test when checking in at the terminal, which will be administered by one of our testing vendors. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.
Prior to Disembarking
While onboard, unvaccinated guests 2 years of age and older will be required to undergo antigen testing within 24 hours of disembarking at the end of the voyage.
This test will be conducted the day before the cruise ends by one of our testing vendors. Guests will be notified onboard about how to register for this test.
Unlike Adventure of the Seas from The Bahamas, face masks will be required by guests in certain situations onboard.
Vaccinated and unvaccinated guests are required to wear masks indoors unless:
- Seated and actively eating or drinking
- Masks are not required in your stateroom when you are with your traveling party, outdoors, or at Perfect Day at CocoCay, unless in a crowded setting
- Guests under the age of 2 do not need to wear a mask
Royal Caribbean said they are expecting updated guidance from the CDC on mask policies for vaccinated guests and will provide an update.
Royal Caribbean will designate certain venues (bars, lounges, restaurants and entertainment) or events as only for vaccinated guests only. At those locations, masks wont be required.
Your SeaPass card will be required to access lounges, shows and dining venues.
Vaccinated guests will receive a wristband and those who are unvaccinated (or choose not to disclose if they are) will have a hole punched in their SeaPass card.
For unvaccinated guests, there will still be entertainment and options open to them, but there will be some options, such as late night entertainment, for vaccinated guests.
Select showtimes will be for vaccinated guests and others for vaccinated and unvaccinated guests.
In the Main Dining Room, there will be designated areas for vaccinated and unvaccinated reservations to dine separately.
My Time Dining will not be available to unvaccinated guests.
Venues will be set up with proper spacing and Royal Caribbean asks guests to abide by physical distancing, especially when interacting with those outside of your traveling party.
All guests are subject to restrictions and requirements as defined by local authorities in the ports we visit. Details will be provided onboard.
According to the cruise line, it is reasonable to expect that unvaccinated guests will be subject to stricter protocols than vaccinated guests.
Here is the letter Royal Caribbean has sent to its guests booked on the ship.
Adventure of the Seas made its first port of call stop not at a private island on this sailing, when we arrived in Cozumel.
Unfortunately the weather forecast was not favorable, but you gotta make do with what you get.
Since it was overcast and looked like it might rain a lot, we decided to go downtown and have lunch instead of doing an excursion or going to the beach.
I was curious to see what Cozumel is like after all these months without cruise ships and the tourists they bring. While so much attention is given to the plight of the cruise lines during the shutdown, ports like Cozumel have been suffering without the daily flow of tourists.
I was surprised to see most of the shops and restaurants open for business. Perhaps they all just closed up until today, but the stores were ready for tourists.
In fact, many of the people working at these shops were surprised to see cruise ship visitors. Some told us they had heard cruise ship guests would be limited to cruise line excursions, or were simply unaware a ship was back.
In Cozumel, you have to wear a mask inside and outside, regardless of if you are vaccinated or not. It's a federal law, so it definitely made walking around a little more uncomfortable since the humidity was extremely high.
Besides wearing masks, the experience being back downtown was the same as in the past. Lots of people encouraging you to stop in and shop, restaurants open, and taxis all over the place.
We had lunch in a restaurant we had never been to before north of downtown, but the food was disappointing. It just was nothing special.
We then headed to a new coffee shop that I had never seen before, Aqui + Ahora Coffee.
The place had a great vibe to it, and a nice assortment of coffees, snacks, and some light food too.
Afterwards, we decided to head back to the ship and relax in our (air conditioned) cabin.
Overall, Cozumel looked better than I expected. I thought perhaps only a fraction of the stores or restaurants would be open, but a surprisingly large number of venues were open.
When we come back next week, our plan is to visit an old favorite, Paradise Beach, and see what that experience is like now.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) lowered its warning for going on a cruise ship for the first time since the global health crisis began.
The warning has gone from Level 4 to a Level 3 warning of "Very High" to "High".
The CDC's 4-level system categorizes destinations, including international destinations and United States Territories, into the following four levels:
Level 4: Very high level of COVID-19
Level 3: High level of COVID-19
Level 2: Moderate level of COVID-19
Level 1: Low level of COVID-19
The CDC noted the warning change is aimed at non-vaccinated passengers, "Lowered from Level 4 to Level 3, and specified the notice is for travelers who are not fully vaccinated."
The CDC recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide.
In its revised verbiage, they specify unvaccinated passengers face a greater threat going on a cruise than someone who is vaccinated,"It is especially important that people who are not fully vaccinated who are more likely to get severely ill avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises.
"Cruise passengers who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are at increased risk, since the virus spreads person-to-person, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on cruise ships because of their congregate (group) settings where COVID-19 spreads easily."
The CDC raised the warning level for cruise ship travel to its highest point of Level 4 in November 2020, and it remained at that level until today.
Just like the cruise lines, the CDC recommends that anyone going on a cruise ship get vaccinated before their trip, which means being fully vaccinated before travel begin.
The CDC also advocates anyone going on a cruise during the pandemic do the following:
- Get tested with a COVID-19 viral test 1–3 days before your departure, even if you are fully vaccinated.
- Get travel insurance