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JeffB

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Everything posted by JeffB

  1. I get that HBCcruiser. I look at it this way. If I'm in marketing and I have input as to what health and safety protocols the line I'm working for might change if they elect to fully participate, and I think most lines will, is that they will continue to advertise that guests and crew are "fully vaccinated." The hair-splitting non-sense of being "up to date" that the CDC has now interjected into the decision making process of health and safety protocol policy makers is typical of the fence straddling on so many COVID issues they've taken that produce nothing more than confusion (see the idiotic masking stuff referenced above ..... laughable) The public is not going to look up and then know the difference in vaccination status between fully vaccinated and up to date when selecting a cruise line or ship to sail on. IMO, boosters will remain optional for guests, probably not for crew who are already getting them. We're slowly making our way to reasonableness in COVID policy. No more mandates. GIve people the data, guide them on how to assess individual risk and behave accordingly. In this case, given the current requirement for guests to be "fully vaccinated," some higher COVID risk guests may want boosters. Fine, that's a personal decision based on a personal risk assessment.
  2. The language in the CDC's most recent update to COVID vaccination status is critical in understanding it. The CDC has not included boosters as a requirement to be considered fully vaccinated. Walenski, when recently asked about this, said we're pivoting away from the term requirements to being up to date with vaccines in hopes of encouraging more people to get boosted. There is disagreement among policy makers about how both government and private organizations will interpret the new guidance. In either case, the CDC, hopefully having learned it's lessons, won't be defining what constitutes a minimum vaccine requirement for the cruise lines. I believe the lines feel they have adequate layering of SARS2 mitigation measures, including the current vaccination and testing requirements, without resorting to a requirement for boosting. https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2022-01-21/cdc-stands-by-up-to-date-vaccine-language-shift-as-new-data-shows-importance-of-covid-19-booster-shots
  3. HHS is following a stick and carrot approach here. The color coding system now in full use by the CDC will color ships not participating in the voluntary program gray. That's the same sort of thing as gaining "vaccination standard of excellence." Ships participating could be frowned upon or avoided by the public that still harbors high levels of COVID fear.
  4. I just did a quick review of the protocols at the link. From memory, this is simply a rewrite of the latest iteration of the CSO. As I mentioned previously, the biggest drawback with the protocols is the administration of them and the associated reporting. Other than that, these are good SARS2/COVID mitigation protocols that the cruse lines have pretty much been following since the CDC got stoned by the Federal 3rd District Court in FL and did make some technical (not substantive) changes (the last iteration). Proofs in the pudding. They have worked remarkably well in enabling what for all intent in purpose is a zero COVID policy - or very close to it - aboard each cruise ship adopting them.
  5. We're on day 5/7 headed to Nassau after departing St. Croix, USVI about an hour ago. Several itinerary changes - Nassau for Key West and St. Croix for San Juan, PR. Going with the flow and wearing a mask indoors. We're B2B departing on 7n W. Caribbean on Saturday 02/12. I suspect we'll still be in a mask indoors protocol until the 15th (day 3 of the second cruise). Maybe not. Celebrity has had a slightly different overall approach to SARS2 than RCL (went with 98% vax rates and no test cruises. Accordingly, Celebrity ships could generally have a nigher vax rate and reduced risk of spread). Would be neat if Celebrity, based on reduced risk, went with no masks indoors to start the 7n W. Caribbean sailing on reflection out of Fort Lauderdale on 2/12 instead of waiting until the 15th. The reasoning there would be to reduce guest confusion by not changing mask protocols mid-cruise. Makes sense but I'm not hopeful nor concerned. I willing comply with whatever is required to cruise. I'll post again after I find out. This is our 4th sailing on Reflection. It's the newest of Silhouette Class ships (2018) and reflects an evolution in that class. Reflection has the usual Celebrity specialty dining for this class and adds some length and a larger Retreat area (Suites). We booked a Veranda, 2C nearly 2y ago but not on refelction and it's been cancelled 2X. Once in 2020, 21 and moved to 2022 on Reflection. We had planned and booked the same cabins for the B2B on deck 6. When we checked in, we were informed we had been "upgraded." Not really. Just moved to the 9th deck. No explanation and our bags tagged for 6156. Guest services fixed that, our bags showed up in our new cabin and they insured we had the same cabin for both cruises. We learned on entering our cabin on deck 9 that a cabin attendant had not yet been assigned. This is an example of having to be flexible and not losing your patience when things change. This could have been a cluster (bags, no cabin attendant assigned, back to back) but it wasn't. The change was due to Celebrity's use of cabins on deck 6 for isolation of crew members. That policy started in mid 2021 so, I would have thought Celebrity would have made the change for any guests on that deck and we'd have been informed earlier than we were. Our cabin attendant specifically assigned to our cabin arrived on day 3. We still had service but it was performed by attendants doing double duty. We did speak with the Hotel Manager. He dutifully took notes but we never got any feedback which is unlike Celebrity. Not to worry and I'm willing to be tolerant of this sort of thing during the pandemic. A bottle of wine would have been nice though.
  6. There are two measures that will define the date upon which SARS-CoV2 will no longer disrupt our normal routines, e.g., we can go back to a pre-COVID life that includes lots of cruising: (1) A medical endpoint. Determining this endpoint is the realm of virologist and epidemiologist who deal with the enormous amounts of data that are available to define it globally, nationally and regionally. Regionally, we are very likely already there or very close to it. The several metrics that define disease burden - viral prevalence or percent positives of screening tests and hospital admissions with a COVID diagnosis are examples; regionally and growing beyond that, all those metrics are declining and in some case significantly. There are others. (2) Reduction in the fear of COVID - measures of mobility and economic activity are examples of ways to measure that; again, there are others - a lot of them. Fundamentally, all of these have been on a steady rise for more than 6 months with an almost imperceptible drop with the onset of Omicron. That in itself is revealing. People are coming to grips with the new reality of life with SARS-2 and it does not have to be awful and definatley not as deadly as it first appeared to be. The biggest obstacle to a return to normal routines - COVID fear - also has two sub-components: (1) The reaction of governments as defined by the degree of restrictions to mobility and social interaction placed on their citizens to control the spread of SARS-CoV2 (China is without a doubt the worst, GB better), (2) Our capacity to rationally judge our real risk of exposure to SARS-CoV2 and the development of a serious, life threatening case of COVID. The reality is that it is low and as government agencies and, specific to our interests, cruise companies come to realize this and act on it, we'll start to see a return to operational normalcy. On January 27th, Boris Johnson, the PM of the UK, lifted all COVID restrictions. ALL OF THEM. Of course, he is being assailed by his political opponents as being dangerously irresponsible. He is cheered by UK citizens and has the backing of the NHS - world renowned in providing good stuff wrt SARS-2 and C19. The net impact on UK citizens is that they are going to have to move from the government telling them what their risks are to making those kinds of decisions themselves. Many countries are headed in that direction, Spain and Portugal are notable practitioners of that approach. We're headed in the right direction. It's going to take time to recover from the fall-out of the Pandemic worsened by the media's constant fear narrative and government's, often inappropriately over- reacting to it. A lot of that movement is going to be changing people's minds about risks - never an easy undertaking. We'll get there. Meanwhile approach your cruise planning like you're going to cruise. Period. Final. Once you've done that go for it and let the chips fall where they may. That's not to say throw caution to the wind. Back-up plans these days are important and if you've formulated them you should cruise with confidence.
  7. You're past the time frame needed to order and receive monitored self tests (eMed or Optum, BinaxNow, among others) for boarding purposes. I assume you will have the required Antigen test to enter the US. Options in order of overall ease and decreasing stress levels for getting the testing you need is (1) a Rapid Antigen Test taken in the Miami Airport. You'll get the necessary had copy test results in hand before you leave. Just insure the timing is right and it may not be since you report that you are arriving on a Friday and have to clear boarding protocols on Sunday. So, if your flight arrives at 1030h on Friday, your test is resulted at 11:30 and you are scheduled to board Allure at 1130 on Sunday (48h later) if you board after that, your test has been resulted more than 48h before boarding - won't work. Just watch that and adjust accordingly. No appointments are needed for in-airport testing but if you can make one, I'd do that (head of the line if there is one) and (2) A local Walgreens or CVS Pharmacy. I looked this up for someone else asking a similar question and I recommended using a Walgreens that has a University of Miami Health Care System clinic inside. You can schedule your test in advance by actually talking to a real person instead of the hated bots and do all your registration on line in advance. The downside of a CVS or Walgreens is that you have to Uber/Lyft from your hotel and back. If that pharmacy is close to where you are staying drivers don't like short trips and will pass on it - it can be hard on Fridays. Saturdays, less hard. Good luck. Don't stress, it's not going to be hard to get what you need.
  8. On the new QuestCOVID19.com web site mentioned on the front page and at the risk of repeating what everyone following this stuff here already knows, KNOW YOUR TEST TYPES AND PICK THE RIGHT TEST. I already posted a detailed explanation of molecular and rapid antigen tests here: https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/27964-the-dreaded-positive-test-result/&do=findComment&comment=304316 Per reports, RCL has "partnered" with Quest Diagnostics to make "free" testing available. That's accurate, just make sure you know what you're getting and how you will or will not incur charges for testing. Also know other companies are doing the same thing Quest is doing. You're not locked into Quest Diagnostics to obtain travel tests. That these testing opportunities are popping up is a result of the Biden Administrations requiring health insurance carriers to pay for COVID testing. In the case of any type of "monitored, proctored or clinician administered" COVID tests, where a licensed health care practitioner is required to order the test, Medicare Covers them. Home tests for Medicare beneficiaries are available though the USPS ordering site (you can four self test kits with two tests in each kit.) The web site QuestCOVID19.com (not a live link, copy and past it into your browser) is nicely laid out. I just went to it and made my way through the process to get a test - you can order kits or schedule a visit to a testing site. For testing sites, you can enter your zip code and see what's available in your area - either a molecular (PCR) test or Rapid Antigen test, possibly not both, with the molecular tests being more commonly available. Then select the one you want and start the scheduling process. Which test is best for you? If you're goal is to clear boarding protocols, Rapid Antigen tests (either home-monitored, e.g. Abbott BinaxNow, or clinic based tests performed by a clinician) are the easiest and IMO, your best option. If you have travelers in your party that are required to get a molecular test, well, then you'll have to get one. Quest states their molecular tests are being resulted within 24-48h so, that's great and if it turns out your insurance will cover them, that's even better! There are such things as "Rapid" Molecular tests and I'm assuming that is what Quest is using but I can't confirm that as they aren't saying what products they are using. Why do I favor the Rapid Antigen Tests? It's because of the dreaded post COVID positive you can pop on the much more sensitive molecular tests even months after you were exposed, even if you never had symptoms. Those pesky SARS-CoV2 virions can hang around for a long time inside you and will produce a positive when using molecular tests. With Omicron, it is a fact that lots and lots, I could say everyone but I won't, is going to be exposed and potentially develop completely asymptomatic infections and then recover from them (hard these days to actually define recovery). Those infections can still leave markers at trace levels where you are not even remotely infectious ...... but, you pop a positive on that PCR in that circumstance and you're done. At the risk of repeating what has already been posted, what about Canadians traveling to FL from Canada and returning to Canada? You don't need a molecular test to board an aircraft in Canada and fly to FL. Rapid Antigen tests will work and depending on your travel plans from Canada to FL, you could make one test work for arriving in the US and clearing boarding protocols on the ship. You do need a molecular test to fly from FL and re-enter Canada (RCL is no longer providing PCR tests aboard ship for debarking guests). According to RCL, international guests who need one can get a Rapid (same day) PCR test inside the terminal after debarkation or at the airport at your own expenses ($100 and up). I'd advise researching who is doing those at the ports or airports you are traveling through, for what prices and schedule testing in advance. Hope this is helpful, puts needed testing info in one place and I'm not reposting stuff that everyone already knows about.
  9. I've sailed NCL, RCL and MSC mentioned here. I've also sailed Carnival, Disney, Oceania and Celebrity - mostly Celebrity. First, I love to cruise. The cruise lines, even down to the ships operated by them, have differing but nevertheless something to do with your cruise experience. You'll enjoy either NCL or RCL but that's just my take mainly becasue, well, I love to cruise no matter. The things I value about cruising are not worrying about making beds, doing laundry, figuring out what to eat, cooking and cleaning up, being served. It is the complete life of leisure - the longer I can do it the better and we've sailed continuously at times for 45 or more days ..... never get tired of it or want to get back home and sleep in my own bed. My take is that cruise companies have differing corporate level objectives that define the onboard guest's experience. All of them want to deliver "the best", most luxurious, eating and drinking, fitness/spa, gambling, entertainment, whatever experience for their guests. Some do it better than others or some things they do better than others. Corporate also tailors a guests experience around a target cohort, like kids, boomers, gamblers, buffet and big dinner eaters, spa aficionados, sun worshipers, port of call lovers and the like. RCL is definitely family oriented. At the peak of cruising in 2019 if you were sailing RCL, you'd see lots of kids, some very well behaved, some not so much. Right now, I don't think that separates NCL from RCL. I think the concept of serving your guests graciously is carried out better aboard RCL's ships than it is on NCL. That goes right to the heart of corporate's HR and hiring priorities. When you inquire of crew aboard RCL (definitely aboard Celebrity - an RCL co-brand) of which lines have they worked for and which lines they like the best, parsing bias, RCL frequently comes up as a preferred place of employment. Happy employees, happy customers, right? I have a hard time separating food and food service between NCL and RCL. It depends a lot on your expectations: 5* dining or burgers and a milkshake. NCL keeps up with leading trends in putting varied restaurants and menus on their ships. If you take, for example, NCL's newest ships and RCLs newest ships, I think RCL wins that comparison hands down when it comes to restaurants, menus and food quality.. Entertainment is another thing worth comparing. I'd say NCL tries, RCL delivers. If you're not into theater productions or stage performances in general, that shouldn't be a deciding factor for you. Being based in Europe, I'd look at Celebrity sailings out of Athens (Piraeus) to the Greek Isles - a great itinerary (I love Greece) more sedate, older cohort of guests with, right now, not many kids at all. However their youth programs are very good for all ages if you plan on sailing with your kiddos. As well, MSC has some beautiful new ships and a more European flavor as far as guests, food choices and menus are concerned. If you speak French, German, Italian or Spanish, you'll be very comfortable socializing - something we value onboard cruise ships. At the same time, if you speak only English and just get by with a foreign language, I never met a European that travels and that I've met on a cruise ship that doesn't speak the English language at a conversational level. I hope this helps. Cruising is a very personal sort of thing with tastes among cruisers that post here and elsewhere varying widely. For me, if I'm on a cruise ship, I like it .... the one I'm currently on. You can't go wrong with RCL nor with NCL - for me, they each offered a different experience and I preferred the ones I've had on RCL. I don't think anything tops Celebrity but that is a hugely biased opinion. We know lots of Celebrity crewmembers that we see over and over again through the years. That makes you feel like family every time we board - 7X since June 26th, #8 next week on Reflection. We like feeling like family that is extended to us when we board .... a lot.
  10. The stuff I'll recap isn't entirely clear so....to recap: You can order as many tests as you want from Optum but each person using a test that you acquired must have a separate account. The eMed test from Optum can be done from a pc by heading to this link https://www.emed.com/, click on the log in button (top right) and select the create account option. Do this for each person in your party..... or.... If you would like to use your phone to complete and record your test results use the available Navica app. The Navica app is available for both iphone and android. Head to the appropriate app store and download it. Again, install the app on the phone of each person in your party taking the test. Go through the same process to create an account on the app if you chose this method and I recommend the app over a PC because you have easy digital access to your test results. As well, you'll also get an email the provides your test result and a printable page that lists the information needed to clear COVID boarding protocols. I recommend you print out a hard copy of the test results page and carry it with you to the terminal putting in a place you can easily and quickly grab it, i.e., don't pack it and be "that person" rummaging through bags to find your test results and holding the line up. If you're using a PC, see the video above posted by Space Noodles If you're using the phone app, it is super easy and straight forward to use. On the Navica home page after you've created your account, select I have a test/start testing option. After that you're set. The app will walk you through the whole process for each person. Again, even using the phone app, you'll get an email with a hard copy test result page...... see my comments about that above.
  11. To be honest, information from RCL Customer Service, especially as it applies to pre-boarding COVID testing can be unreliable. If you get a "no, your vaccine record won't work," you have two options: (1) Call back and wait on hold to get another poorly informed CSR who may or may not give you the green light or (2) assume your digital shot record will be fine - and I think it will be. RCL has to be used to the EU digital COVID Certificates. You might encounter ship's staff sailing out of US ports who may not have seen these but, I feel confident that if the right person in guest relations is contacted by check in staff, a quick response saying those will work fine will follow. Up to you but I can't imagine you being denied boarding with a hard copy pint out of your COVID Certificate.
  12. So far, the trends are suggestive they will and rapidly. The most significant obstacles to smooth traveling into and around Europe are varying boarder crossing and in country COVID related restrictions. There is no uniformity and it is choking the travel and leisure economies of countries throughout Europe. That is the one thing I'd like to see improved for non-EU citizens. EU citizens, even non-EU member states like Switzerland, have standardized digital COVID certificates that include all the pertinent information and make travel within the EU easier - COVID testing remains cumbersome but can also be entered digitally into phone apps. I have a Swiss COVID digital pass on my phone - they are not easy to get. My daughter is an EU citizen by marriage living in Lausanne. We visited in October. Without that visit and my daughter's excellent French, I doubt I would have secured it.
  13. Great, you should be good as long as you can show that (I can see the entry that shows when you were vaxed). Looks to be in the same format as my Swiss Pass. I'd print out a hard copy to be safe just in case your phone stops working. Guarantee, if you have kids, they'll forget to charge them. Obviously, you still need the required pre-boarding negative COVID tests and I think we had the discussion of how you were going to do that and it looked good too.
  14. Natalfaz, do you and your family members each have an EU Digital COVID (Vaccination) Certificate on your phones? I assume you have the paper copies. I have a Swiss COVID Certificate (parallels the features of the EU Certificate). Mine lists vaccine type, product, manufacturer and date of vaccination. It also says 3/3 under dose. The paper copy is going to be key - print one out for each family member. There's a QR code on your digital certificates. QR code readers in countries outside the EU may not be able to scan your digital certificate's QR code.
  15. Not affecting us but as frequent Celebrity cruisers, I'd see this as a real kick in the ass if I was booked on Infinity Europe this summer. I looked around the web and can't find answers to pertinent questions that involve lift and shift. For example, if I'm booked on Infinity in the Med and notice I can lift and shift to Edge, Beyond or Reflection what's the price difference and who covers that? A Millennium class ship offers fares considerably lower than the two Edge class ships that would be available. I could see a no additional fare L&S to Reflection but not Edge or Beyond. This move is likely capacity/demand driven, i.e., demand for cabins in Europe are down and are likely to stagnate through mid-summer. Meanwhile, demand for Caribbean itineraries probably remains strong and Infinity can be operated more profitably out of FL.
  16. I love the upbeat tone of your post wordell1. Cruising can be challenging in the COVID environment but getting aboard a cruise ship, getting ahead of what seem to be insurmountable obstacles to a smooth and enjoyable vacation can be exhilarating.
  17. Testing for COVID has devolved into a mess for lay-people mostly because of the confusing nomenclature that has been foisted on us by "experts." As I've posted previously on this subject, molecular tests - I use that term because it suborns a large number of them - include: Real-time reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (rRT-qPCR) or PCR for short, Reverse Transcription Loop-Mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP), Recombinase Polymerase Amplification (RPA), CRISPR-based diagnostics. PCR testing has become a short hand for all these types of molecular testing. It's confusing. The term "home tests" has also confused the issue. You can do home tests with both molecular and antigen testing kits the former being more expensive (upwards of $90) and less numerous/available than the later ($19-$30). Molecular tests detect genetic material – the RNA – of the coronavirus and are sensitive enough to need only a very small amount of it for you to pop a positive. There are not a lot of these tests available for home use, more for clinic and lab based use and authorized by the FDA under EUA. Under what circumstance you should use these tests is extremely important. Availability, costs, time to travel to take one of these tests and the time to get results are also important considerations for us cruisers. Generally, you'll pop a positive on one of these tests sooner- much sooner - in the course of a COVID infection as well as much later - the dreaded, "I tested positive by PCR for 3 months after I tested negative by a Rapid Antigen test".....now what? Am I still contagious? Not likely and I'll get to that. Antigen tests detect specific proteins on the surface of the coronavirus. There are dozens of these home and clinic/lab based antigen tests approved by the FDA under EUA and readily available. Subject to distribution issues we've all experienced. Here’s a good way to look at the difference between antigen and molecular tests: The coronavirus replicates itself by putting its genetic material inside our cells. If you’re testing that person by the commonly used and available rapid antigen test at the point where the virus is still replicating inside the cells, large enough amounts of those proteins that rapid antigen tests are looking for in test samples (saliva, swabs) aren't there yet. Hence the CDC recommendation is to wait a few days (3-5 or 5-7 depending on your source) to test after a known exposure or symptom development. That's not the case with molecular tests that detect very small amounts of RNA to pop a positive often within hours (usually 12-48) after exposure. PCR testing is considered the gold diagnostic standard. It is definitely not the best sampling or screening test for a lot of very good reasons. Rapid antigen testing is better for both sampling and screening circumstances, i.e, for cruising. I question the cruise line's use of molecular testing (e.g., PCR and others I mentioned above) for select cohorts. That's because the chance of popping positive on one of those well before and after you're contagious is high. Why are they doing this then? I can make an argument that they shouldn't and it will be countered by the "abundance of caution" argument as misplaced as I think that it is. I'd avoid using a molecular (PCR) test to clear COVID boarding protocols if you don't have to. YMMV. if you are concerned about spreading the virus aboard ship after clearing boarding protocols, packing extra Rapid AG tests to do serial antigen testing, to include the first one you take to clear COVID boarding protocols and then administering two other unmonitored home tests on days 3 and 5 from your travel day is an alternative. The bottom line for me, and you can take it for what it's worth, is that a negative Rapid Antigen test (home - unmonitored, home - monitored, at a clinic- monitored) in the current Omicron environment, done serially X2 and on day 5 and day 7 from exposure (potential or known, symptomatic or asymptomatic) will yield a suitably useful result to determine when you are and are not sufficiently burdened with the virus to be contagious. I'd offer one caveat: It has been demonstrated that antigen tests in an Omicron environment can sometimes pop a positive up through day 9. As well, if you test sequentially more than the two times the CDC recommends, the pink infection line compared to the control line will show gradations of intensity - the more intense the infection line is compared to the control line, the more infectious you may be. Well, darn cruise lines are telling us now we have to test within 48h of boarding, 72h for a PCR. What if you get exposed the day before you board and remain asymptomatic - a very good chance you will - through the boarding process then, on day 3-5 of your cruise, start spreading it around the ship? My position on this, which is likely to be the cruise line's as well, is that multi-tiered mitigation measures will prevent outbreaks and we can live with that - hence, the new indoor mask mandates. Makes sense. To repeat what I mentioned above, I'd offer if your worried about spreading the virus aboard ship, pack a few home tests for your traveling party and once aboard, test again on days 3 and 5 from your travel days.
  18. If I were doing this, I'd use a private transport company. Lyft/Uber works but, depending on what day it is that you'll be doing this (weekend or weekday, number of ships debarking at the same time you are in Miami), some hic-ups, no show stoppers, could happen. 1st, you'll hail Lyft/Uber using the local (data) network (I'm assuming you'll have roaming access through your carrier in AU on your phone). Depending on signal strength and number of people trying to get a Lyft/Uber at your arrival port, it can be frustratingly slow. 2nd, if this is a weekday transfer, you'll be traveling North from Port of Miami on Interstate 95 to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. On a good day it's a 40 minute trip. An accident northbound, just about any time of day, can slow progress to an hour or more. A bad accident that shuts lanes down and it can take longer than that; up to 2 hours. You'll get there, just maybe not as soon as you had liked. Some, not all, Uber/Lyft drivers will have a Sun Pass and use the express toll lanes. In heavy traffic, they can cost upwards of $12 in tolls for your trip. There is no question that having access to those will shorten your trip time. Occasionally, the accidents I mention above that can slow your progress will occur in the express lanes. That's a bummer when you see the regular lanes whizzing past you while you sit in the express lanes. That suggests using a private car is your best option ..... just ask to make sure the driver will have express lane access with a Sun Pass. Either way, be patient. I know what it can be like anxiously heading to a cruise and then get stuck in traffic. Pour up a jug of you own with a few bloody marry's from an open bar before you leave the ship and relax in your transport of choice.
  19. If you're suggesting the cruise lines might sue the US government for damages in a tort claim, that's nearly impossible. Parties can sue the US government under what is called the FTCA (Federal Tort Claims Act) passed in 1946 but certain rules have to be followed and conditions met. It's complicated and I don't think the cruise lines would be able to cross the high bar to file a claim. Parties can sue the US government and it's agencies for injunctive relief and that's what Desantis did over a year ago. Even though it appears that the CDC dodged being called to account for exceeding their authority granted to it by Congress (those maritime laws are also complex), the 3rd Court where Desantis filed his request for injunctive relief (from the CSO) stands. Judge Merryday, sitting on the bench of the 3rd District Court of Middle FL, wrote an opinion that just hammered HHS/CDC for acting unconstitutionally as if it were a law making body, instead of the administrative one it is. That will serve as precedent in the rather narrow application of the various maritime laws that the CDC claimed authorized them to issue the NSO in March, 2020 and the CSO a year later. Functionally, Judge Merryday's ruling stands. That's because, as a result of CDC asking the 11th Court of Appeals to dismiss their own appeal, HHS is prevented from shutting down whole industries or companies within them under the guise of a PHE going forward. For Desantis, mission accomplished.
  20. I can't help but believe a lot of legal maneuvering went on behind the scenes. That the 11th apparently never heard oral arguments from the two sides indicates motions were filed by both to delay. Finally, with the CSO never legally enforceable, HHS filed a motion to dismiss...... granted (happily). This tale is a good example of the courts holding the two sides accountable to iron out their differences and I'd say they did. The Merryday ruling from the 3rd was, quite frankly, a gun to the head of HHS. In the end though, the CDC never admitted, nor did the courts find conclusively, that they didn't have the authority to issue the CSO. The cruise industry re-started under what was more-or-less an acknowledgement that much of the guidance published in the CSO was a good way to prevent a repeat of March 2020. A win-win. The big win for the cruise industry was probably that they were able to sidestep much of the onerous administrative burdens - the paper work - voluminously detailed in the order. A smaller, but nevertheless important win for the CDC, is that the cruise industry followed most of the health regulations and protocols on their own (the Healthy Sail Panel recommendations widely adapted) and it turned out they worked pretty well.
  21. A while back, one of our posters noted that FEDEX has terrible service. Several others posted that the problems seem to stem from the "pulling" of a shipping label by the distributor and then the actual pick-up of the package by FEDEX - which may be days latter. Once the package is in the hands of FEDEX, things seem to go smoothly. Your experience, SpicyCherry, would seem to support that view. Iv'e found that both FEDEX and UPS seem to have their acts together (once the have the package, with USPS working hard to catch up from behind. Overall, considering all things, delivery entities are doing a decent job.
  22. A potentially less costly option for you: You can get a Rapid Antigen test outside the terminal and before you enter it at your designated time to check in and board. The testing is being done by contracted vendors approved by RCL. The test is performed by qualified personnel, results are available in 15-30 minutes and you carry in a hard copy page that has the result with the required information on it. The cost is $105 per test - about what you would pay if you walked into a pharmacy based health clinic (e.g., Minute Clinic) and paid cash for an AG (not NAAT/PCR/molecular). This link should take you right to the scheduling page for Mariner out of Port Canaveral. I looked and there are plenty of spots available: https://covlc.gomeyra.cloud/services/tests?pageNumber=1&pageLength=15&locationId=73 Good luck.
  23. Here's the thing..... aside from previous research over a year old that suggests a post COVID infected person can test positive by PCR test for months after symptomatically clearing the COVID infection, more recent studies of Omicron reveal that your maximum period of infectiousness occurs between days 3 and 5.5. you'll continue to carry virions but in decreasing numbers with less infectiousness following that through day 9. At that point, most people will sufficiently clear viral particles and test negative by AG testing. Molecular testing is another story. The CDC is still pushing the most infectious period following exposure to COVID is 1-3 days. Thus, cruisers doing a 48h pre-boarding antigen test in the Omicron environment may have an insufficient viral load to produce a positive test result. Molecular tests that include the PCR tests are more sensitive (lower threshold to pop positive) and likely to pick up an Omicron COVID infection at days 1-3. There also appears to be gradations of the appearance of the positive pink line on typical COVID AG tests below the control line that correlate with viral load - the darker the line indicating infection, the higher the viral load = higher potential for the infected person to spread virions by aerosolization. To be clear, studies are demonstrating that yes, after 5d, most Omicron produced C19 infections resolve and you'll feel better. Sometimes this happens surprisingly quickly, like waking up the day after you felt terrible feeling fine. You are also not usually infectious on days 6-9 even though you may show increasingly feint positives on the AG card through day 9. The CDC has been criticised for not recommending testing before leaving isolation on day 5. Part of that recommendation was political, part of it science. So, yeah, having become infected with Omicron, you're not infectious days 6-9, may still test positive but won't be spreading virions becasue your viral load is too low. 95% of the time you'll test negative by AG test on day 10. Longer by molecular testing but for most, you're not spreading virions. This may be the cause of increased outbreaks aboard cruise ships with Omicron as opposed to Delta and previous variants..... people are legitimately pre-board testing negative by AG test, feel fine, have no symptoms, board and become infectious on days 3 to 4.5, maybe or maybe not developing symptoms. I'm not advocating for molecular testing as a pre-boarding COVID screening tool. I believe that would cause more problems than solve them. There will be leakers with Omicron produced COVID19 regardless of testing strategies. Cruise lines have successfully relied upon a multi-tiered strategy to prevent outbreaks - namely requiring vaccinations, masks when viral prevalence increases, isolation and contact tracing of the infected. So far so good but this relies upon guests being super attentive to URI symptoms. For vaxed guests, these include a sense of being mildly ill (your immune system battling the virus and why you feel that way), raspy/sore throat, runny nose and sneezing. Cough is apparently not a prevalent C19 symptom in the Omicron environment. Report to medical and seek testing. Do your part even though your cruise is scuttled if your positive. Other guests and crews will appreciate that
  24. I've had good results with eMed on three occasions that I've used them. eMed is an Abbott Lab's distribution vendor under contract with Abbott Labs. Still, the stories being posted here about shipping mess-ups after the ordering process is disturbing. I just sent this to Abbott Labs. You can add your own experiences. A flood of these may get Abbott's attention. I'm writing on behalf of a community of Royal Caribbean cruise ship enthusiasts. Our forum members are posting a disturbing number of problems with eMed shipping delays and receipt of Abbott BinaxNow proctored (Telehealth) AG test kits with only 3 months until they are expired. We understand the demand levels from customers you may be dealing with at the moment but I'm asking you to look into eMeds practice of shipping almost expired test kits. That's a questionable business practice that I doubt you would approve of. Thank you for your attention to this problem our group is experiencing. A positive response would help restore our confidence in Abbott Labs, its partnership with eMed and the job they are doing distributing your proctored COVID test products. We rely on the timely receipt of them and trust that those tests we do receive from eMed will have expiration dates that are at least 9 months from the date they are ordered. Here's a link to Abbott: https://www.molecular.abbott/us/en/about-us/contact?s=t NB: the link is to Abbott Molecular but it is going to be seen by someone that may refer it to Abbott employees who deal with the Abbot Rapid AG test products. I couldn't find a similar link for that specific product. Best I could do.
  25. Reasonable ....... I'd really like to see the current administration hit a home run with this program and getting the logistics right is key. If there has been advance procurement and stock-piling of home tests, it could happen. I'll speculate that the reason it is so hard to find the Abbott BinaxNow products is that Abbott is busy manufacturing and then selling them to the US government. I posted some stuff on the government program incidentally in another related thread. Here's the link if you haven't seen it yet. t's got some good info and links in it on the free COVID tests program:
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