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Just back from Adventure sailing.....the one where they added last minute mask mandate...my short review.


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It's hard to say it like this.  Worst cruise I have been on (even worst than the one where I hid from my MIL for 3 days by staying in my cabin ?) ....but I mean...it was still a nice cruise....but could have been better...I suppose people will say "it is the best of a bad situation" and I suppose that's relatively accurate.

It was a royal pain in the posterior having to swap mask on and off, go to some shows and you could take it off, then the next day, you can't take it off.  I traveled with a 10 yr old, so kept getting kicked out of places we settled for live music or an activity.  The only thing that was consistent...was the casino was jumping.  Mostly I bet because it was the only place you could consistently relax mask free.

Ship was only about 1/3 full, so most places felt empty and actually a little sad at times.  Pool deck was also jumping (because you could be mask free).  Windjammer was straight forward, stick you plate out, they put food on it....you ask for more because you wanted 2 pieces and you get a dirty look (so typical) and we only went there once for a light snack. ?

Honestly If Royal had announced just 2 days earlier the whole "Everyone now has to wear a mask" I would have cancelled, but with the amount of notice given, everything was already in motion for the trip....kennels, PTO, testing.....so we sucked it up.  And Royal I bet knew that most people would end with the same conclusion.

The real highlight though was having Air2sea booked 5 first class seats get 'over sold' and have to fly out and back without 'checked in' prior to arriving at airport and standing around in lines to get seat assignments. 

Testing Antigen 2nd round to fly back was a cluster IMO.  They put a QR code in the stateroom, I accessed it, went to a page, it asked me a couple questions and asked how many people in my party....and then said you have an appointment.  So go to the appointment and the people running it are like "You need to download this QR code and app on each person's phone and setup 5 different appointments"...I"m like "i have one phone, one internet package and 3 kids....."....so they huffed/puffed and set it all up while we stood there and ultimately got testing.

Then they email the results.  I wasn't permitted use my yahoo.com email address that everything royal goes to that I can easily access from my phone.  NO I have to use a real domain based email per 'policy'.  Which is something that I can't readily access from my phone for security reasons (and then they didn't say "oh we will send print outs to your room") so I had to stress about that for several hours while trying to hack my personal email account from a cell phone on the worlds WORST internet only to then find out "ohh yeah, we will send the results to your room"

Obviously it all worked out....but the process could have been a lot smoother considering they have been doing it a little while now.

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I was on the same sailing.  I’m sorry you had that experience.  I thought it was a pretty good experience. Only one person I encountered in windjammer with an attitude was when asking for coffee.  He didn’t seem thrilled to have to pour it.  The only reason I wound up at his station was they were making a fresh pot at the front station. Other than that the servers were nice.

I couldn’t check in for the flight going to or from the Bahamas and I think it was because of all the paperwork they needed to see at the airport- Bahamas Travel Visa, vaccine card going down and the CDC form, negative Covid results coming back.  

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Cruising during this restart won't be for everyone.  That isn't meant to downplay your experiences, in fact quite the opposite.  Feedback like this is critical so others can determine if they are willing to accept the experience on board during the restart. 

I can tolerate it given the opportunity to sail but I completely respect anyone who doesn't like the sound of cruising right now.

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2 hours ago, CrimsonCruiser said:

Err...whaaa?

Since when is yahoo not a real domain?

Free email = spam. fake, etc.....many discussion forums don't even let you register with a yahoo email address either.  Remember that scene in wedding singer....."Once again, information that would have been useful to me YESTERDAY"  ?

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33 minutes ago, dodgestang said:

Free email = spam. fake, etc.....many discussion forums don't even let you register with a yahoo email address either.  Remember that scene in wedding singer....."Once again, information that would have been useful to me YESTERDAY"  ?

But..all email sites are free? Didn't pay a cent to use Gmail either...

29 minutes ago, Pooch said:

Never knew that.  I’ve had a yahoo email account since emails became a thing.  I’ve never had an issue with it ever, anywhere.?‍♀️?‍♀️  Who knew?!?!!

Same (almost). I've had AOL and Yahoo since around the same time. Dropped AOL a while back but yahoo is still where I do 99% of my everything! and never had any issues.

3 hours ago, Matt said:

Yahoo emails are notoriously used by spammers, so I suspect that may be the issue there.

well this is a bit of a concern because I also use a yahoo email for all my cruise documents....

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There's innumerable places to get a free email account with domains that are similarly common and fine and with domains most people would never have heard of before. 

When I was aboard in June doing a few B2B's the first testing signup period nobody really knew what was going to happen for B2B's, AND the signup step had other problems, like not even showing up on phone browsers consistently or even on laptops. So the front desk was signing people up when they had a problem. And then later we discovered B2B's don't need to schedule an appointment as we'd be tested on turnaround day and we all just show up in a small window of time. But I'd had an appointment scheduled; they just said to ignore it and no-show. I guess they had no way to cancel it.

But the TrustOne app it uses for things otherwise worked well, including it providing a notification on the phone about the test result as long as it was running in the background well before anyone walked over to where we were waiting for results.

But everything worked out; I think everyone was way too happy just to be there to sweat these sorts of details. I go back in a few weeks for the last 2 sailings. I'm sure there'll be a completely different set of problems. And I'll still be happy to be there sweating it out. ?

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1 hour ago, tonyfsu21 said:

The mask mandate really makes cruising more of a hassle but the pros outweigh the cons. IMHO this will never go away and as much as I want to tape the mouth shut of the next person that says “the new norm” it’s seems to be a true statement. Thankfully we live in Florida….. and yeah. 

I agree the mask requirements are going to take away from the cruise experience. 

I'm a bit more optimistic about masks going away though.  People are already getting fed up with them.  Every day that goes by, the more resistance to masks grows. You can see it in the fight between masked and unmasked students in school.  You could see it when Sen. Rand Paul asked the CDC for scientific studies showing masks are effective, and the CDC refused to produce the studies saying they were "confidential" and not peer reviewed.

That said, we'll be wearing masks on cruise ships for at least the next several months.  Therefore, each of us has to decide if that's something we are willing to do in order to be on a ship or not.  No judgment here.  Everyone has to make their own choices and this is one of them.

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I was also on this sailing and had a great time even with the new mask mandate indoors.  There were vaccinated areas only like the Schooner Bar and Champagne Lounge.  Testing was a pain and I did have to set up accounts for each of my kids.  Everyone had their results quickly and got stateroom letters except for me.  Mine seemed to take an extra day.

I was able to use Verifly to fly out of the Bahamas and the lines were not too horrible for my family.  Security and customs were a breeze.

I found the wait staff very willing and helpful.  The kids were getting soda and ice cream all week that was poured or served to them.

All in all, I loved the empty ship because we never experienced any lines for activities.  It was a bit sad to see empty chairs on the pool deck and sun deck on a sea day.

I will say my family is vaccinated and our kids are over the age of 12.  While we were disappointed in having to wear masks, we understand the necessity and thought RCL was very accommodating by handing out both paper and cloth masks to guests.

I found it awful to wear masks in the Bahamas and Cozumel outdoors; a necessary evil at the moment.

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16 hours ago, dodgestang said:

The real highlight though was having Air2sea booked 5 first class seats get 'over sold' and have to fly out and back without 'checked in' prior to arriving at airport and standing around in lines to get seat assignments. 

Can you elaborate on this point?  Did you have seats picked out ahead of time, or was it one of those situations where you could not select seats yet?  And you were not able to check in online prior to the flight?  Or it was not showing that you had checked in?  And what airline was this?  Curious minds need to know for future Air2Sea bookings....

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1 hour ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

Can you elaborate on this point?  Did you have seats picked out ahead of time, or was it one of those situations where you could not select seats yet?  And you were not able to check in online prior to the flight?  Or it was not showing that you had checked in?  And what airline was this?  Curious minds need to know for future Air2Sea bookings....

I had confirmed seats for 3 months.  I picked them out with air2sea at the time I booked the air fare and they showed up for 3 months in AA website under the reservation and in their app.  Then on the day of checkin...I suddenly didn't have a seat and just a message "please see gate attendant when you arrive at airport".

The 'equipment' never changed, it was always the same air craft type, we picked the first 5 seat assignments (the other 3 where not booked/assigned at the time we purchased and 'locked' it in.

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I've posted several reviews of my B3B Celebrity Equinox sailings out of PEV in the Celebrity Azamra thread but there are some specific cross-over observations on issues like mask wearing and antigen testing raised in this thread that I may be able to fill in some information and observations on.

First, no intention to start a mask debate but one thing is apparent. There is no uniformity in mask policy ..... anywhere. Not just on cruise ships. That should tell us something about the value or lack thereof of masking as a legitimate COVID mitigation measure. IMO, their utility in stopping the spread of SARS2 in particular is debatable. The subject of the huge variances in COVID related travel restrictions is catching the eye of government regulators - it's choking the travel and leisure sectors of the global economy. I've seen reports of astounding economic losses continuing as the world starts traveling again due just to these disparate travel regulations alone. More uniformity is a tough thing to achieve among nations with varying COVID circumstances but, it could be done. 

Second, in understanding masking, one also has to separate the debate between the two sides of the restraint of liberties argument. That argument involves questions about government authority granted in a PHE to direct behaviors, in particular masking, in protecting the public health and the constitutionality of limiting freedoms by issuing them.  When viewed by encompassing the political and medical/scientific bases of masking it seems to me a legitimate argument can be made that mandatory masking directed by governments, especially aboard cruise ships, is a questionable policy. I believe this may sort itself out in the months ahead.

Finally, and on balance ,there is a reliance on businesses, who do have lawful authority to mandate mitigation measures, including masking, to assert that the government is requiring them to do so or is recommending them with the penalty for failing to do so civil liability for COVID deaths or serious illness. IOW, this isn't simple - lots of issues and moving parts in the masking or no masking policies aboard cruise ships. On balance, I'm against them but there are myriad issues and agencies involved in masking policy. Being against them,  I would choose to cruise on lines that don't require them indoors. For now, Celebrity is one of them.

Vaccination policy is affecting masking policy. Is that reasonable? Notwithstanding the foregoing, I can make a case for masking indoors on a cruise ship that is allowing a hybrid passenger mix. I can also make an argument that it doesn't. Right now, of the majors, RCL is the only line not requiring guest vaccination to board for a sailing. I'm quite certain that the lines know the answer to this question but publicly, it's not going to be known. What is the occurrence rate of all infectious diseases compared to infections with SARS2 in cruise ships with less than 95/98 compared to those with 98/95?..... or, are masks doing anything to make cruising safer?

If my experience with a B3B, now on consecutive day 17 (11 more to go) on a fully vaccinated Equinox can be extrapolated to the whole industry (admittedly a stretch) here's how things have gone: We have experienced 3 COVID positives and 14 identified close contacts that tested negative. All positives were unvaccinated. Positives, according to the Captain, were not acquired on board the ship (no other details provided). Masks are not required for vaccinated guests indoors. They are for unvaccinated guests. (Per the Captain, Equinox has reached a a minimum of 98% guest vaccinated on all three of our B3B's legs) I'd assume, based on the current facts on the ground involving this question, that over a similar period involving cruise ships with a larger percentage of unvaccinated, COVID positives would be more numerous.

Then, the next question: what is the impact of masking on this cohort? Masks = less positives or not? I'd assume the later mainly becasue of my own personal view of the lack of benefits to masking in the specific congregate setting of cruise ships - YMMV.

TBH, cruising presents a unique opportunity for the CDC to look at questions like this. Some analyst in a CDC cubby in Atlanta, might be looking at this but if my hypothesis that masking makes no difference in mitigating SARS2 spread on a cruise ship were supportable in the data (skimpy at this point), we're not going to hear about it. I think similar anecdotal studies could be performed in school settings - I'd like to see that for schools instead of all the arm wavng by the two sides of this debate.   

Antigen testing. This is simple. It is a good, scientifically based way to prevent the introduction of SARS2 in a congregate setting (a cruise ship). It is also a good way, when coupled with appropriate tracing capability (Apex and Equinox requires all guests to wear traceletts) to keep a single COVID infected person from producing an outbreak. IOW, the benefits of this mitigation measure and all the hassles it imposes is entirely worth it. My experience with Apex out of Athens and now with Equinox out of PEV is that the contractors doing the testing are good at what they do. How the process of scheduling a test and reporting results has been janky. IMO, part of the problem is RCG's decision to not integrate the contractor's process and apps into RCG's apps for check-in and so forth. Not integrating the two apps hurts perceptions of hassle factor but it may be that the code used for writing both of them is different enough to prevent easy integration. It will come.

On board debarkation testing done by the contractors has been excellent. We used it for our B3Bs between each debarkation and re-boarding process. Contractors also provide antigen testing for guests who are international travelers not holding US passports (a department of state/home land security imposed travel into and out of the US requirement). None of this uses the QR codes or the apps for reporting results. Guest services provides a list of guests to be tested, the contractor runs the results, reports them to guest services, who then engages medical staff and security to come knocking to the cabins of anyone that tests positive. So far out of over 100 guests to go through this, none, to my knowledge have been positive and tracked down.

TBF, every COVID related thing we're experiencing as cruisers in the early stages of the restart have been pretty well handled by the lines. My experience with these and Celebrity has been great and notably lacking in a reduction of the outstanding onboard experiences of the past. My expectations for X have not been diminished by COVID.      

  

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2 hours ago, dodgestang said:

I had confirmed seats for 3 months.  I picked them out with air2sea at the time I booked the air fare and they showed up for 3 months in AA website under the reservation and in their app.  Then on the day of checkin...I suddenly didn't have a seat and just a message "please see gate attendant when you arrive at airport".

Yikes!  I don't know what to make of that except for that now I am concerned.  I just booked 4 first class tickets to LHR through Air2Sea and they let me pick seats, and it shows on my app and online.  That would definitely cause a whole lot of stress if I got to check in and had no seat, especially since I am travelling with the kids on that one.

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