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How many ships does Royal Caribbean have?

In:
15 Jun 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Royal Caribbean is one of the most popular cruise lines in the world, offering the latest and greatest in cruise ship activities, design, and itineraries. Whether you’re new to Royal Caribbean or not, it can be confusing to tell Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships apart. So just how many cruise ships does Royal Caribbean have, and what do they offer?

Royal Caribbean currently has 26 cruise ships and has four additional ships on order which will launch in the next four years. The cruise line has six distinct classes of cruise ships, each of which offer differ in layout, size, onboard activities, stateroom options, and amenities. A seventh class will debut in fall 2023 with Icon of the Seas.

Here is the list of ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet:

Vision Class ships

  • Grandeur of the Seas
  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Rhapsody of the Seas
  • Vision of the Seas

Vision Class ships are the oldest and smallest ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. While considered small by Royal Caribbean terms, they hold nearly 2,500 passengers and offer many of the same amenities as larger ships, including a pool deck, adults-only Solarium, Adventure Ocean kids programming, spa and fitness centers, and specialty dining venues.

Related: All about Vision Class cruise ships

Radiance Class ships

  • Radiance of the Seas
  • Brilliance of the Seas
  • Serenade of the Seas
  • Jewel of the Seas

Radiance Class ships are the second smallest class of ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet and are designed to sail in all types of climates, thus offering unique itineraries around the world. There are over three acres of glass found throughout Radiance Class ships, so guests can enjoy views of the ocean from nearly any vantage point.

Related: All about Radiance Class cruise ships

Voyager Class ships

Voyager Class cruise ships are considered “medium” in size, although quite large with a capacity of around 4,000 guests. They were the first Royal Caribbean ship class to feature the Royal Promenade, the main thoroughfare in the middle of the ship. Several Voyager Class ships have recently been amplified with the addition of water slides, new specialty restaurants and bars, and other new activities such as the Sky Pad, escape rooms, and laser tag.

Related: All about Voyager Class cruise ships

Freedom Class ships

Freedom Class ships are extremely similar to Voyager Class ships, but are longer in length, allowing for an additional pool area as well as more retail, food, and bar venues. Many passengers find the Freedom Class to be an ideal size for a Royal Caribbean cruise. While not as large as Royal Caribbean’s newest ships, there is certainly no shortage of excellent entertainment, dining choices, and onboard activities.

Related: All about Freedom Class cruise ships

Oasis Class ships

The Oasis Class ships were a game changer in the cruise industry, with a split layout that was unlike anything ever seen before at sea. Oasis Class ships feature distinct neighborhoods, from the nostalgic outdoor boardwalk to peaceful Central Park. There are activities for guests of all ages onboard, whether ziplining, ice skating, or catching a show in the AquaTheater.

Related: All about Oasis Class cruise ships

Quantum Class ships

  • Quantum of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Spectrum of the Seas
  • Odyssey of the Seas

Quantum Class ships combine technology with cruising to bring a modern, state-of-the-art experience to passengers at sea. The Quantum Class has several differences to other Royal Caribbean ships, including a two-story Royal Esplanade, the North Star observation pod, and an indoor skydiving simulator. Quantum Class ships are built for a variety of climates, so most of the ships have an indoor pool in addition to the adults-only Solarium. The SeaPlex can also be found on Quantum Class ships, which is an indoor sports arena with bumper cars, fitness activities, and an arcade.

Related: All about Quantum Class cruise ships

Icon Class cruise ships

The Icon Class will be Royal Caribbean’s newest and seventh class of ships, although little is known about the features, layout, and amenities of the Icon Class. The class will debut in fall 2023 with Icon of the Seas, and will be the first class in Royal Caribbean's fleet to be powered by LNG.

Related: Which Royal Caribbean ships are powered by LNG?

Royal Caribbean recently announced the Icon Class will be bigger than Oasis Class cruise ships, although it is unclear in what aspect Icon will be bigger. Construction images have been shared of Icon of the Seas as well, including several of a large sphere that has recently been installed on the ship.

More details on Icon of the Seas and the Icon Class are expected to be released soon.

How to pick a ship for your upcoming cruise

While one cruise ship is not inherently better than another, it’s important to look at your preferences and vacation style before choosing a ship for your Royal Caribbean cruise.

If you’re new to cruising, it may seem tempting to pick the cheapest cruise possible. However, choosing a cruise based solely on price is not recommended. Instead, consider the following:

  • Ship size
  • Entertainment options
  • Kids activities and amenities
  • Dining venues
  • Itinerary choices
  • Old vs new ship

Related: Why you shouldn’t book the cheapest cruise fare you can find

Budget does play a factor, of course, but if you're set on having access to activities like water slides or bumper cars, you'll want to look at bigger or recently amplified cruise ships.

On the other hand, if you're looking for a classic cruise experience without all the bells and whistles, an older and smaller ship may suit your vacation needs just fine.

There is a Royal Caribbean ship to fit every style of cruising, so it's important to research ships thoroughly before booking to ensure you don't find yourself disappointed or surprised once onboard.

Related: 8 questions to ask yourself before picking a cruise ship

How big are Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships?

Royal Caribbean is known for building the largest cruise ships in the world. With the exception of the Queen Mary 2 from 2003-2006, a Royal Caribbean ship has held the title of the world’s largest passenger ship since 1999!

Despite this, Royal Caribbean ships come in all shapes and sizes. Vision and Radiance Class ships are the smallest in the fleet, with passenger capacities around 2,500. Voyager and Freedom Class are significantly larger, with capacities around 4,000 and 4,500 respectively.

Related: 12 differences between the big and small Royal Caribbean cruise ships

The largest classes in the fleet are the Quantum Class and Oasis Class. Quantum Class ships can hold around 5,000 - 5,600 passengers whereas Oasis Class ships have capacity for nearly 7,000 passengers!

One of the best ways to get a feel for what each ship looks like is to watch a full video tour of the ship on YouTube. By doing so, you’ll be able to “explore” the ship before choosing which class of ship, or even which ship in a particular class, will work best for your cruise.

Is Royal Caribbean building new cruise ships?

In the coming years, Royal Caribbean will add four new cruise ships to its fleet. Two new cruise ships are currently in construction: Icon of the Seas and Utopia of the Seas.

Icon of the Seas will be the first ship in the new Icon Class. Two additional Icon Class ships have been ordered for 2025 and 2026, but they are not currently named.

Related: What’s new and coming to Royal Caribbean in 2022, 2023, 2024

Utopia of the Seas will be the sixth Oasis Class cruise ship. While details on the ship have not yet been shared, it can be assumed she will share many of the same features as other ships in the Oasis Class, including distinct neighborhoods and entertainment venues like the AquaTheater.

More cruise ships outside of these four are likely to be ordered in the future, but these are the only ones ordered at this point.

Live Blogging from Europe - Preamble

In:
15 Jun 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

 Greetings from Scotland! I’m currently in Edinburgh after spending the past two weeks vacationing in Spain and Portugal, and later this week I’ll be boarding my first of two European cruises this summer. I'll be live blogging my experiences to share with all of you here, offering recaps and insights of what it's like to cruise in Europe!

Anthem of the Seas aerial

After 7 cruises in the Caribbean, 1 to Alaska, and 1 to Baja California, it was time to head across the pond to discover all that a European cruise has to offer. Of all the cruises I’ve done so far, I’ve been looking forward to these two cruises the most. While I’ve been to Europe several times before, I’ve never experienced a European cruise, and I’m excited to visit multiple cities and countries in just one week that I may have otherwise never visited.

Cruise 1: Anthem of the Seas

The first cruise I’ll be sailing on is a 7-night Spain & France cruise on Anthem of the Seas. Over the course of the week, this cruise will bring me to the following ports:

  • La Rochelle (Bordeaux), France
  • Bilbao, Spain
  • A Coruña, Spain
  • Le Havre (Paris), France

This cruise is a roundtrip sailing departing from Southampton, England.

These ports are located in northern Spain and France, so the culture and lifestyle will be quite different than what you may experience in ports like Valencia, Nice, and Palermo. While I’ve visited southern Spain before, I’ve never been to France or northern Spain. Therefore, every day should bring new experiences and cultural insights to discover.

My friend Samantha will be joining me on Anthem of the Seas! We’ve been friends since the 5th grade but have barely seen each other since she moved to England in 2018, so I am excited for a much-needed reunion while traveling around Spain and France.

Why I chose this cruise

Every time I visit Europe, I tend to travel to Italy. While I absolutely love visiting Italy as I can learn more about my heritage, practice Italian, visit my Italian family, and eat out-of-this-world food, I figured it was time to try something new.

My cruise on Anthem of the Seas will visit less common cruise ports in Europe. While I’ve heard a lot about popular ports like Barcelona, Civitavecchia (Rome), and Marseille, I do not know much about any of the ports I’ll be visiting on my Anthem of the Seas cruise.

In addition, Northern Nevada, where I live, has quite a bit of Basque influence, with several restaurants, festivals, bars, and museums dedicated to Basque history and culture. I’m excited to learn more about the Basque country while visiting Bilbao.

My plans in port

I haven’t booked any excursions and I don’t plan to do so for this cruise. I generally prefer to explore on my own, especially in Europe where most towns tend to be walkable and offer plenty to see without needing a tour guide.

Plus, Samantha and I are quite happy to simply walk around, hang out by the waterfront, and taste local cuisine and wine in our free time, so there was no need to spend extra on excursions!

The last day of our cruise visits Le Havre, France, otherwise known as the “Paris” cruise port. I find this to be a slightly misleading title due to the fact that Paris is around 2.5 hours away from Le Havre, but that’s fairly common for cruises to Europe.

While I haven’t been to Paris before, I do not think just a few hours will do the city justice, so I do not have plans to travel into the city. Instead I’ll just plan to visit at a later time when I can dedicate several days to exploring Paris.

Instead of Paris, my current idea is to visit the small town of Honfleur located around 30 minutes away from the port of Le Havre. It seems like a small, quaint port city that should make for a relaxing day where I can spend more time exploring as opposed to sitting on a bus for many hours.

My plans onboard

I haven’t sailed on a Quantum Class ship in a while, so I’m excited to get onboard Anthem of the Seas.

I would really like to do the North Star at some point on the cruise as well as RipCord by iFLY. Because these activities are only offered on Quantum Class ships, it’s definitely worth trying them out on each Quantum Class ship!

I also have plans for my first spa treatment onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise and a delicious lunch at my favorite specialty restaurant, Jamie’s Italian. In addition, I am looking forward to seeing Anthem’s Broadway show, We Will Rock You.

Outside of these activities, I plan to spend quite a bit of time hanging out in the Two70 venue, which is one of my favorite places to sit back and relax on any Royal Caribbean ship.

Cruise 2: Rhapsody of the Seas

My second cruise is on one of Royal Caribbean's smallest cruise ships, Rhapsody of the Seas. Departing from Athens, Greece and ending in Ravenna, Italy, Rhapsody of the Seas will visit the following ports on our 7-night cruise:

  • Mykonos, Greece
  • Chania, Crete (Greece)
  • Zakynthos, Greece
  • Kotor, Montenegro
  • Split, Croatia

My sister Lauren and brother Dominic will be joining me on Rhapsody of the Seas. Lauren and I have talked about visiting Greece together for years, and we are finally getting a chance to island hop the country together!

Why I chose this cruise

My top priority for a European cruise was to book a port-intensive itinerary so I could experience as much as possible in a single week. While I don’t mind sea days, if I am traveling all the way to Europe I prefer to visit as many ports as possible as opposed to spending several days at sea. With five port days and one sea day, this cruise should offer exactly what I am looking for.

I was also interested in visiting not only Greece, but other countries as well. Being able to visit Greece, Montenegro, and Croatia and end the cruise in Italy was simply too amazing of an itinerary to pass up!

I’m also really interested in visiting Croatia. My childhood best friend was from Croatia, so I spent a lot of time hearing Croatian at her house and learning about Croatian culture. I’m excited to finally see the country in person!

I also wanted to end the cruise in Italy to allow for a few nice days of traveling in the country before flying back to the US.

My plans in port

Just like my cruise on Anthem of the Seas, I do not have any plans on shore and did not book any shore excursions. From what I’ve read, most of the ports we’ll be visiting should be easy to explore on foot. We’re also open to take taxis to beaches or wineries, but will likely make decisions on the fly.

I am most excited to visit Kotor, Montenegro. The port looks absolutely stunning, and it’s a country I never thought I would visit before. Sailing into the port should offer fantastic views of the “fjord”, and I’m hoping to do a short hike while in port to see the city from above.

Read more: 15 countries you didn't know you could cruise to on Royal Caribbean

I expect Mykonos will be the port most overrun with tourists, both from cruise ships and land-based travel. I will have to do a bit of research to see which areas to avoid on the island, as this is one of the most visited islands in Greece.

Lauren, Dominic, and I are pretty big foodies when we travel to Europe, so trying local cuisine and pastries will definitely be on the table.

After the cruise, we’ll be spending three nights in Italy before flying back to the United States.

My plans onboard

Because this is my first cruise on a Vision Class ship, I have no idea what to expect! While there may be fewer activities and amenities onboard compared to larger Royal Caribbean ships, I’m excited for the laid-back atmosphere I’m expecting to find onboard.

We do not have any plans to dine at specialty restaurants, so we will have dinner in either the Main Dining Room or Windjammer. Instead of spending money on specialty restaurants or a dining package onboard, we plan to enjoy a nice sit-down lunch every day in port.

I expect we will spend most of the time onboard tired from long days in port, so we’ll likely hang out at a bar or lounge, listen to music, or play cards to pass the time.

I’m looking forward to sharing my experience on Anthem of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas with all of you over the next couple of weeks! We will also be creating full ship tours of both ships for the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube channel.

New Royal Caribbean trademarks could hint at name of new venue

In:
14 Jun 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

When Royal Caribbean files a trademark application, it sparks interest in what it could possibly mean.

Trademark office website

Royal Caribbean Group filed a number of new trademarks recently that seem to be connected to its next new cruise ship, Icon of the Seas. Or perhaps not at all.

The new trademarks were filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office late last week.

Icon of the Seas 2023

Two of the trademarks sound like marketing slogans, since they play on the name of Icon of the Seas.

Icon of the Seas is under construction at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland.

  • Live Like An Icon
  • We built an Icon, you make it Iconic

The other trademarks are less obvious, and could be names of a venue or feature on the new ship.

  • The Star
  • The Pearl
  • The Jewel
  • The Orb
  • The Gem
  • The Oyster

Royal Caribbean often trademarks names in bunches, so that it can later decide which name to use. This is most commonly seen with ship names.

Freedom of the Seas name

Each of the trademarks simply has a description of a trademark registration is intended to cover the category of cruise ship services. This is the commonly used description that Royal Caribbean Group uses as a catch-all for almost everything it trademarks.

Since the names seem to have a common theme among them and were all registered on the same date, it stands to reason they are related.  Either as the possible name of a new feature, or names of different parts of a new feature.

Royal Caribbean has been extremely quiet about its new class of cruise ship, the Icon Class.

Icon of the Seas sphere installation

They have not yet revealed what the ship looks like, or any features.

The only substantive announcement they've made so far is to tease a sphere-like object that was recently installed onboard.

There's been no word what it is, or what it does. With trademarks like "orb", "pearl", and "oyster", it could be related.

As always, it's important to remember trademark filings don't necessarily mean anything or indicate any intention Royal Caribbean has. Moreover, Royal Caribbean Group files all of its trademarks under a single brand on behalf of all of its subsidiary lines, which includes Royal Caribbean International. Celebrity Cruises, and SilverSea.

What do you think the names could be used for? Share your guesses in the comments!

Cruise industry wants to review pre-cruise testing requirements next

In:
14 Jun 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

The same day the United States announced an end to needing a negative Covid test to enter the country, the cruise industry said it wants to next move to looking at pre-cruise testing requirements.

Woman taking covid test

Ever since cruise ships restarted sailing in late 2020 and early 2021, a pre-cruise covid test has been required.

While the specific requirements vary depending on where the ship sails from, in general, a negative covid test is required up to 2 or 3 days before the cruise for anyone that wishes to sail.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) issued a statement on Friday in support of the U.S. lifting testing requirement for travelers arriving by air to the USA.

At the end of the statement, CLIA mentioned a next step of looking at pre-cruise testing.

"As the CDC monitors the improving health landscape and works with airlines to support a smooth transition with the lifting of the pre-arrival testing requirement, we believe a review of pre-embarkation testing requirements for cruise travelers is also in order."

Symphony of the Seas in PortMiami aerial

Just like the testing for international air travelers, CLIA points to the economic impact opening up cruises without a pre-cruise test.

There was no mention of changing vaccine requirements in the statement.

Pre-cruise anxiety

Cruise ship docked in Miami

The problem with having to take a covid test just a few days before a cruise is it inserts an x-factor into vacation plans of will they or will they not be able to go.

For many cruisers, a positive result just before the start of their vacation could ruin their plans.

Besides that, no other form of leisure travel subjects their customers to a covid test as a requirement for entry. This includes casinos, hotels, theme parks, or zoos.

Then there's the issue of actually getting a test done in time. Vaccinated guests can choose to do a proctored at-home test, but these tests cost extra. Tests at pharmacies are often free, but getting an appointment can be daunting.

In short, pre-cruise testing adds stress to planning and getting excited for a cruise because of the fear of a positive test derailing plans.

Reviewing health protocols

Physical Distancing sign

Royal Caribbean recently added new questions to its post-cruise survey that ask people who just took a cruise on their thoughts on the amount of health protocols.

Post-cruise surveys are one of the most important metrics Royal Caribbean uses in measuring customer feedback. These are comments from people that actually paid and went on vacation, rather than comments from people who may or may not actually cruise.

The addition of these questions seems to hint at the company wanting to know what its customers think about the current set of protocols.

Questions include if there were enough or too many health protocols on the cruise, what impact (if any) did the health protocols in place have on the cruise experience, and if the same health protocols were in place again for the next cruise, would they cruise again?

Some want testing to remain

There are still a lot of cruisers who want pre-cruise testing to remain as a way to prevent someone who has Covid from boarding their ship.

Melissa Chapa wrote on the RoyalCaribbeanBlog Facebook page, "Only reason I cruised is because of testing."

Jason Lutes added, "These tests have kept some cases off the ship. If they do away with pre-cruise testing, quarantine time while cruising might go up."

Randie Williams shared a story about how pre-cruise testing helped, "For my last cruise my husband tested covid positive 2 days prior to leaving. He was asymptomatic. We would have never known he had covid and could have passed it on to many passengers if we were allowed to board without a test."

What happened when I tested positive for Covid on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

In:
13 Jun 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

There is a risk of catching Covid-19 everywhere in life, including on cruise ships. Unfortunately, I tested positive for Covid on the last day of my cruise, and I wanted to share my experience for what to you can reasonably expect.

Wake

I was sailing on a 7-night Alaska cruise from Vancouver, Canada.

Anecdotally, it seems far more people are worried about what your life is like onboard after testing positive in terms of your treatment onboard, rather than the effects of the virus.

Keep in mind my experience may vary from your experience, as regulations are changing all the time.

Ocean view from my cabin

I certainly had read plenty of other people's experiences on various cruise lines to have a ballpark idea of what to expect, but after going through it myself, here's the important takeaways.

Feeling sick

Bedroom

Before anything else, you will likely start feeling the effects of Covid. I'm sure most people start off in denial of what it could be. I certainly did.

My first symptom was a sore throat on the second-to-last day, but I had gotten up super early for the glacier viewing and stood outside for hours to watch it all, so I chalked it up to overdoing it. My energy levels were good and I had no temperature or any other symptoms.

As the evening came, I found myself getting quite tired and again, assumed it was a result of many days of touring Alaska.

That night, things got much worse and my fever rose along with an even worse sore throat. By the time dawn broke, I couldn't take it anymore and found a home covid test I brought onboard. Sure enough, it came up positive.

At this point, I felt miserable and called medical to inform them of my symptoms and positive test.

Medical evaluation

The next thing that happens is the medical team came up to our cabin and tested everyone.  

The ship's doctor and nurse arrived to give us a quick antigen test each, and dropped off DayQuil, lozenges, and Tylenol to deal with the symptoms I was experiencing.

The doctor listened to my breathing and then told us we'd have the results very soon, likely within the hour. He also mentioned all the treatment was complimentary.

Almost exactly an hour later, I got a call that I was positive, but my wife and kids were negative.

Quarantine

Bedroom

Probably the biggest concern about Covid on a cruise ship is being quarantined. It's no secret there are inside cabins on every ship designated for Covid patients.

I was able to stay in my stateroom for two reasons: it was the last day of the cruise and we had a two bedroom suite. 

The doctor explained that if I could quarantine myself in one of the bedrooms, I could remain there. That certainly seemed like a better idea than going elsewhere.

I was not to leave my cabin at all. My wife and kids could leave the cabin, but had to wear masks and were not allowed to eat in any restaurants.

Instead, we were allowed to order food from room service at no extra charge. After one or two orders, the room service rep started calling me to place orders before I could.

In terms of the food, it's the exact same room service menu as any other guest has access to. For dinner, we were able to order from the main dining room menu just to give us something different.

The room service food menu gets old quickly. Unlike the main dining room, there's no variations or new options. I could see how this could become frustrating if I had been in quarantine for a longer period.

You'll be provided with complimentary Voom and free phone service.

One thing that will stop is daily cleaning on your cabin.

Checking up

Once you test positive, expect a lot of phone calls to check on you.

I was impressed by the amount of crew members that called to check on me, and give me information.  I was concerned about not having access to all the questions about what happens next, but between the medical team and guest services, they ironed it all out.

The medical team called a number of times to check on how I felt, and were happy to provide more meds if I needed them.

Medical center

Guest services also called to coordinate plans (more on that next).  Also, both medical and guest services cross checked the other, asking me if the other had done certain things to ensure no balls were being dropped.

What to do after the cruise

Canada Place in Vancouver

Guest services provided me options for what I could do at the conclusion of the cruise.

Because we were in Canada, which has public health regulations requiring me to continue to isolate after the voyage ends, I was given three options:

First, I could disembark in Vancouver and quarantine in Canada for a minimum of 10 days (9 days since I had quarantined one day in my stateroom).

Second, I could disembark and take my rental car (that I had parked in Vancouver) and drive back to the U.S.

Third, stay onboard for the next sailing. This was a shock to me, but in the paperwork Royal Caribbean provided, it listed staying onboard as an option sometimes allowed if there's space for it.

I'd need to quarantine for 4 more days, and if I tested negative after that, I could get off the ship in port and resume normal cruise activities. 

My family would need to test every day, but they would be able to enjoy the ship if they tested negative.

It was tempting to stay onboard, but the fear someone else could test positive (since they had been exposed to me) made it seem too risky.

Later in the disembarkation process, I spoke with a couple that opted to quarantine onboard and they spent the entire cruise in quarantine because they continued to test positive. That made me feel much better about my decision not to stay onboard.

We chose the option of taking our rental car and driving back to Seattle to stay there Had I not had a rental car already parked in Vancouver, I likely would have been stuck in Canada, per the Canadian regulations.

I had to provide guest services with the address and my ArriveCAN number for departure. 

Compensation

The most impressive part of the lengths Royal Caribbean goes to support those that catch Covid during their sailing is the compensation package they provide.

Since I could not drive home to Florida, Royal Caribbean offered me a daily per diem if I quarantined in a hotel.

Specifically, it offers reimbursement, up to a limit of:

  • $250 USD per hotel room per night
  • $100 USD per person, per day in meal costs
  • Air change fees up to $400 USD per person
  • $150 USD per day for a rental car cost

In addition, all quarantined guests and their travelling party get a prorated refund of their cruise fare based on the time spent in quarantine and cruise time lost.  This refund will come back to the original form of payment.

In my opinion, this quite a generous offering, especially the financial support given after you've left the ship and are isolating in a hotel.

Disembarkation

Serenade docked in Canada

On the morning of disembarkation, we were instructed to wait in our cabins until all other guests were off the ship.

At 9am, crew members came to take my luggage. It would be brought down separate from other guests luggage.

At 9:45am, a crew member came to escort us out. It felt kind of surreal being back in the Centrum again. Again, I was happy to only have had one day of quarantine.

They escorted us to a conference room where eventually 10 other Covid positive guests joined us. This represented 11 out of 2,100 guests, or just 0.5% of the guests on our sailing.

We each had similar stories of "how it happened". Most appeared to be heading to a hotel in Vancouver that Royal Caribbean had arranged for.

We were taken off the ship and into a van to take us to our quarantine place. The bus dropped me off to pick up my rental car, which was parked nearby.

Must do's before your next cruise

Bring a few covid tests with you so you can test in your cabin before calling medical. From what I understand, you may still be temporarily quarantined if you call with covid-like symptoms but test negative.

Have some shows or movies downloaded on your mobile device to watch. Most streaming services you subscribe to allow you to download programming to watch offline (like on an airplane). There isn't much else to watch.

Netflix

Bring extra prescription medicine for a possible quarantine.

Bring a few over-the-counter flu medications with you. My wife packed Ibuprofen and some Halls, but I wish I had daytime and night time DayQuil or even Mucinex to deal with my sore throat.

Conclusion

I was probably different from most that run into this situation, because I knew a lot about what cruise lines were doing with people that tested positive for Covid. I was looking to see how much truth there was to any of the subjective comments people had made in their experiences.

Yes, the room service menu gets tiresome and if I had to eat it for 3, 4 or more days, I probably would have really hated it. But I never got food that was cold. Luke warm, perhaps. But no different than how some food comes very hot or not so hot when in a dining room.

I freely admit I was lucky to only have to quarantine for 1 day onboard. The television programming is limited, and there were no pay-per-view movies on Serenade of the Seas.  Moreover, their slow internet made streaming anything pretty much impossible (although YouTube worked fairly well, since it could buffer better than other services I tried).

 

I thought the support from medical and guest services was exemplary. I was encouraged to call with any questions. So when I wasn't sure about mixing meds, I called the medical center and got a hold of the doctor almost immediately. My primary physician at home isn't that accessible.

Besides "how bad is quarantine", my other concern was communication because I had read some people lamenting gaps in time before knowing what was going to happen next. 

I started my ordeal around 7am. By lunch, I had a good idea of what the game plan was, and by 4pm I was clear on disembarkation and what to do after that.

I knew when I booked this cruise, and every other cruise I've taken since June 2021 that there's a risk of getting Covid. I was fortunate not to have run into this until now, but I can say it was handled well.

It would have been a heck of a lot easier if this had happened on a cruise from Florida, as I'd much rather quarantine in my own home. But the generous compensation package helps a lot.

I'm not not sure what sort of compensation options there are if the cruise had ended in the USA, which likely has different requirements than than of Canada.

I hope this article serves as an overview of what could happen and what to expect. 

Serenade of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Glacier Viewing

In:
11 Jun 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

One of the highlights of any Alaska cruise is when your ship sails as close as it safely can to a glacier.

Glacier

The glacier viewing is a slow process, in which the ship moves up the waterway leading to the fjord at Tracy Arm.

We got up at 6am and bundled up to enjoy the view. We decided to go up to the pool deck to see the glacier, since our cabin had only a fixed view.  Plus, I knew the photos would look better without a piece of glass in the way.

We slowly meandered towards the glacier, which took about 90 minutes or so. Along the way you pass small icebergs in the water, waterfalls, and once in a while some wildlife.

Unlike the last few days in Alaska, the weather was not perfect. It was overcast, drizzling, and chilly. At one point I got a cup of coffee simply to hold the warm mug.

As we entered the entryway to Swayer Glacier, the Captain came onto the public address system to inform us we would not be able to get any closer and would have to turn back due to ice in the water.

Depending on how many pieces of ice are in the water, it can prevent a ship of our size from getting closer. Disappointing, but as we ran up to the front of the ship to get a glimpse of the glacier, it was evident there was just too much ice in the way.

I'm happy to have at least caught a glimpse of the glacier, but it would have been a very nice way to cap off this sailing. 

We went back to the cabin and rounded up the kids for breakfast. Once again, it was time to hit the Windjammer.

The rest of our day was a typical sea day, and it could not have come with better timing. With so many ports in a row, and the early morning glacier viewing today, I was definitely "burning the candle on both ends" and starting to feel it.

I was able to work in two different naps as a way to catch up on sleep, and we spent our day mostly relaxing in the cabin. 

As I always say, a relaxing sea day makes for a boring live blog, but I needed it!

Tomorrow is a sea day.

Stray Observations

We caught a glimpse of Quantum of the Seas around lunch.

The NBA finals game was being down on the pool deck

Royal Caribbean wants to add Elon Musk's Starlink high-speed internet to its cruise ships

In:
10 Jun 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

There could be a new generation of high-speed internet coming to Royal Caribbean's cruise ships.

Wonder of the Seas side view

Based on regulatory filings, it appears Royal Caribbean is engaged with SpaceX’s satellite internet system Starlink to provide internet service for its ships.

A new filing with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Friday details a plan to bring the new type of internet to cruise ships.

The letter was sent to the FCC by Royal Caribbean Group Vice President of Operational Excellence, John Maya, to ask the agency to "expeditiously" approve a new plan to use Starlink on Royal Caribbean ships.

SpaceX satellite

Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX, providing satellite Internet access coverage.

"We write today to respectfully request that you act expeditiously and look favorably upon the pending application filed by SpaceX Services, Inc. and referenced above."

Mr. Maya points to increased cloud-based services drawing a need for even faster internet accessibility onboard. He points to attrition, bankruptcies, and consolidation in the satellite internet business as not keeping up with demand.

"Working with SpaceX Services, Inc., we believe we have identified a true next generation solution for our vessels that meets the rigorous technical and operational requirements commensurate with our growth plans.

"We believe our work with SpaceX, the first of its kind in the cruise industry will set the standard for other cruise operators and will mean a leap in terms of guest experience and business operations while at sea."

If you are ready for Starlink to be added to a cruise ship soon, there's a legal issue that is preventing it, which is why Royal Caribbean is appealing to the FCC.

SpaceX has yet to receive approval to operate its Starlink service on moving vehicles, including planes and naval ships.

Up until now, Royal Caribbean's Voom internet service has relied on internet from other providers, including O3b MEO. The O3b internet had made it on Royal Caribbean's newer ships, but did not get added to older ships in the fleet. Moreover, it has anecdotally not performed nearly as well more recently, especially when compared to other cruise lines, such as Princess Cruises.

As an example, this article was written onboard Serenade of the Seas, which clocked a download speed of 590Kbps and an upload speed of 360Kbps, with latency of 832ms.

Serenade of the Seas internet speed test

Starlink is capable of download speeds of 50-250Mbps for residential consumers.

U.S. to end Covid-19 testing for incoming air travelers

In:
10 Jun 2022
By: 
Chantal McPhee

Great news for travelers flying home to the U.S. after a cruise, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will no longer require travelers entering the U.S. to provide a negative Covid-19 pre-departure test.

An official announcement will come from President Bident later today, a welcome change for the travel industry and travelers alike.

The new policy will come into effect Sunday at 12:01 a.m. after heavy lobbying from airlines and the travel industry.

Despite these changes, Royal Caribbean still requires pre-cruise testing for its sailings worldwide, along with vaccination requirements.

Current Covid-19 testing

Woman taking covid test

Since January 2021, travelers returning to the United States from international destinations must complete a pre-departure Covid-19 test for their flights. A major inconvenience for cruisers traveling back home after cruises abroad, who have already tested before their cruise.

Currently, airline passengers must present negative Covid–19 results, using common tests such as rapid antigen or PCR. Specifically, the test needs to be completed no more than 1 day before the first scheduled departure time in the flight itinerary, applying to all travelers, including U.S. citizens, residents, and transit travelers.

This is another headache for many travelers, and especially cruisers disembarking abroad, who have to find a testing site, out of the country that meets the tight 1 day testing timeline.

Stress for cruisers

For cruisers traveling for the popular summer season in Europe, this means more money, and in some cases, more stress.

Initially, Royal Caribbean provided its guests with onboard testing to assist in meeting requirements to return home after their cruise; however, they discontinued the process, leaving guests to find their own solutions in unfamiliar cities.

While many airports provide pre-flight testing, recently, European cruisers reported issues with booking timely testing. In May, popular ports like Barcelona, Spain, had long lineups for airport testing, with some cruisers reporting that they were unable to book or get same day testing, forcing them to spend an extra day.

Tampa airport

Ongoing flight cancellations and airline delays have further aggravated the situation for passengers, leaving them scrambling to find new testing solutions with last minute changes.

This not only affects European cruises but other cruises, such as those to Alaska. A number of cruises home port in cities such as Vancouver, Canada, requiring cruisers to test before flights back to the U.S.

Additional cost

The cost of pre-cruise and return testing adds up. In Barcelona, a major hub for European cruises, antigen tests can cost in excess of $40 per person. Some opt for online proctored tests, but this requires reliable internet access, which is another expense on a cruise.

In addition to cost, many cruisers have expressed concerns about what to do if they test positive in a foreign country. Looking for the right insurance, including Covid-19 coverage, is one more thing that cruisers need to consider in their planning.

Complicating this are ever changing protocols that vary by country. From the time you book a cruise, to sail, policies may change significantly.

Pre-Cruise testing

Today's announcement is welcome by many, but for now, Royal Caribbean continues to require pre-cruise testing for all its cruises, with specific protocols varying by region and country. As noted on the cruise line’s Healthy Sail Center website:

 

"All l guests 2 and up take a COVID-19 test before sailing. All crew are tested regularly per CDC guidelines."

For cruisers leaving from destinations such as Barcelona, the criteria specifies:

  • Vaccinated guests who are up to date (with vaccines) must show a negative result for a PCR or an antigen test taken no more than 2 days before boarding day. Vaccinated guests who are not up to date will have a 1 day window to take this test. Kids age 5 to 11 who have been vaccinated may present proof of full vaccination and follow the testing protocols for vaccinated guests.
  • Unvaccinated kids age 2 to 11 must show a negative result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 1 day before boarding day.
  • Guests under 2 years of age do not need to complete a pre-cruise test.

An important condition for many countries in Europe, the most recent vaccine dose can be no more than 9 months (270 days) ago. Royal Caribbean continues to require all guests age 12 and up are fully vaccinated. Booster doses, though not required, are strongly recommended once you are eligible.

Specific telehealth options continue to be accepted but must be completed with a supervised virtual video visit, and all tests are at the guests’ expense. Royal Caribbean sells eMed Tests Kits and allows Canada’s Switch Health online tests.

 

Serenade of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - Skagway & Haines

In:
10 Jun 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Today was a first for me, with two port to visit in a single day.

Serenade of the Seas in Haines

First up is Skagway, Alaska, and we didn't have firm plans for today's visit. We walked off the ship thinking we could do a combination of a hike and lunch.

Going off of our local's guide to Skagway, we attempted to walk the Dewey trail down to the lake.

Unfortunately, the path was very steep, with lots of rocks. While I think we could have made it, we bailed after about 20 minutes when the terrain got very rocky and steep. 

Back in town, we did a little bit of walking around before deciding to try a less demanding trail.

Located near the airport is Yakutania Point, which requires a short walk and easy terrain.

It essentially run parallel to where the cruise ships dock, but across the river. 

We easily navigated the terrain and ended up with a great view of the ship and the waterways entering Skagway.

By now, we were hungry and needed to sit, so we headed back to town for lunch at Skagway Brewing. They had a nice menu of options and it tasted great after all of our walking.

We then spent the rest of our time in Skagway exploring downtown. 

I also had to stop by the Klondike Doughboy to try one of their fried dough specialties.

Their fried dough is essentially a very flat and round doughnut topped with sugar and cinnamon.

Back on the ship, it was time for a nap to rest up for our next port.

I woke up to clear skies and a beautiful view as we made our way out of Skagway.

Haines is the next city, just a few miles from Skagway. The transit was so short that we ended up docking about an hour early.

Haines is a much smaller port than any of the other places we visited, but it also has a more town feel than the rest.

It's an easy 10 minute walk downtown, where there's shopping and restaurants to enjoy.

Since we were only in Haines for a few hours (4:30 to 9:30) and we are coming back next week, we decided to just enjoy the town and save the tours for next week.

We started off with dinner at the Bamboo Room at Pioneer Bar.

They had a small dinner menu, so we shared the halibut and fried pickles along with a cold beer.

After dinner, we walked to the Haines Brewery, where you can enjoy a variety of brews they have on tap at their distillery.

This was a popular spot, and it was nice to grab a beer and enjoy the drink with a view of the mountains.

The town of Haines was beautiful, and once again our perfect weather really made it a joy to be outdoors.

On the way back to the ship, I spotted a food truck with a woman who was letting everyone know that walked by they not only had fresh fish to enjoy, but all their stuff comes from local fisherman.

I am a sucker for locally sourced food that is fresh, so I stopped by for a bite. They have beer battered halibut fish & chips, sockeye salmon, or coonstripe shrimp.

I met Gabe and Tracey, who own "The Frog Lady Fish Company". Gabe is a native Tlingit, and moved his family back here to live. They started this food truck because of his connection with the local fishermen. 

I sampled the salmon and halibut, and they were outstanding. It tasted so good to have fresh fish that was caught just a few days ago.

If you're looking to try them out, they're located right on the main road if you take a right from the cruise ship, near the post office.

We had a full day of fun, and wanted to call it an early night since we had to get up early to get up early tomorrow for the glacier viewing.

Royal Caribbean updates: New show on Wonder of the Seas, biggest ship to visit Nova Scotia, & more

In:
09 Jun 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Ready to catch up on Royal Caribbean news from this week?

Oasis of the Seas in Nova Scotia

There's always things happening you should know about in Royal Caribbean beyond just the big headlines, so here's a quick look at what's new lately.

Oasis of the Seas becomes largest cruise ship to ever visit Halifax

The residents of Nova Scotia, Canada welcomed the largest cruise ship to ever enter their waters this week.

Oasis of the Seas arrived in Halifax on Tuesday morning.

About 175 vessel calls are expected during the cruise ship season in Halifax, which peaks in the fall.

Credit to the Port of Halifax for sharing these great photos!

Sneak peek at new show on Wonder of the Seas

Wonder of the Seas arrives in U.S. for her first sailings | Royal Caribbean Blog

It's no secret that Royal Caribbean will be adding a new show to Wonder of the Seas this summer.

"Effectors 2" is the sequel to the Effectors show first seen on Spectrum of the Seas and Odyssey of the Seas. It's a show based on Royal Caribbean's own team of super heroes that use sound and music to fight the forces of evil.

Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President of Entertainment, Nick Weir, tweeted a video update with a look at the show.

No date yet exactly when Effectors 2 will open on Wonder of the Seas, but it should be sometime this summer.

Spectrum of the Seas will soon start sailing to Malaysia

Cruises from Singapore that sail to no ports are about to change.

Beginning on June 30, Spectrum of the Seas will start offering cruises to port calls in Malaysia.

Kuala Lampur

Royal Caribbean announced the ship will start visiting Kuala Lumpur and Penang with its new three- and four-night itineraries.

"We are thrilled to be the first cruise line in Singapore to reconnect holidaymakers with Asia’s beautiful destinations once again," said Angie Stephen, Royal Caribbean Vice President and Managing Director, Asia-Pacific.