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Onboard PCR Testing for Post-Cruise International Travel


twangster
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Since borders are opening up and vaccines requirements easing I thought I'd share my experience on Allure of the Seas getting tested for travel to Canada after the cruise.  

In my case my booking appears to be a standard one cruise (no B2B) US booking.  This means that testing for me normally wouldn't be required.  I had communicated with the guest services team before boarding given my unique scenario of not appearing to need a test yet actually requiring a PCR test for travel to Canada.

I knew that guests that are known to require a test would receive a QR code and instructions sent to their cabins.  Since that didn't apply to me I waited until day 3 and visited guest services where they produced a QR code for me to use.

I've obfuscated the QR code in the photo below since I don't know that it is the same for each ship and sail date so don't try to scan this code with your device.

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When using an iPhone the camera recognizes the QR code and pops up a link to follow based on the QR code.  You have to be connected to the ship's wifi but you do not need to purchase a Voom internet plan to use the QR code.

The link from the QR code opened in my phone's browser.

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Scrolling to the bottom there is a button you can tap to proceed.

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This opens a new page where you enter your details.

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For the purpose of this demonstration I chose a fictitious address in Manitoba.

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The next step looks for the closest location.  Since this was on a sea day I was very curious what it would offer for locations near me.  Picking another random address in Canada very far from the Caribbean where I was at the time it found the Deck 3 Conference Center some 3,337 miles from Whitehorse.

For the purpose of setting the location of the ship they had given the Deck 3 Conference Center the address of the terminal in Port Canaveral where I boarded the ship.

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After selecting the only option presented, the Deck 3 Conference Center, I was able to select a time for my appointment.

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In my case I had been told that normally PCR testing for international travel is done at 6:30am and the antigen testing for other guests required for other purposes such as consecutive cruisers would occur later after the PCR testing.  Surprised to see the 8am time being the earliest time offered guest services assured me they would look into it and let me know.

They did follow up with me and the next day I received a call on my cabin phone to let me know they have adapted the process so that all testing starts at 8am, at least on this voyage.

I do have a Voom internet plan on this sailing so I was able to receive the email confirmation for the test once I had completed the scheduling steps above.

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This isn't a requirement.  I was never asked for the confirmation code.  It is not required to have a Voom plan but it was comforting to see the process work very similar to how pre-cruise testing appointments have worked for me in the past on land.

I am an early riser by nature so on the morning of day 7 I dropped by the deck 3 conference center at 6:30am just to make sure I was good with my 8am appointment.

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At 6:30am there was no one around so I breathed a sigh of relief that the process was working as guest services said it would.

At 8am there were crew on hand at a kiosk with paperwork ready for the guests that needed to be tested.  They asked for my cabin number and handed me a paper with stickers attached. The stickers had a barcode, my name and birth date. 

On this occasion consecutive cruisers or anyone needing an antigen test were directed into the conference to the right while guests requiring PCR testing for international travel where directed into the conference center to the left.  I didn't take any pictures because there were other guests present including children.

There are several testing stations and I was directed to take a seat in the section for Accula testing.  Accula is an approved FDA test with an emergency use authorization.  I handed over my paperwork and watched as they applied one of the stickers to a vial that would later contain my sample.

When instructed I removed my mask and tilted my head back.  The lab worker ran a swab around the ring of each nostril without going deep.  If anything it tickled slightly but was in no way painful or difficult to sit through. 

With that I was done and directed to exit.

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After testing I went to breakfast and carried on with my day.

It was a very easy and straightforward process.

As I await my results my only advice for anyone from any country that requires a PCR test onboard is to keep an eye out for the testing letter with QR code and instructions.  If you don't receive it by day 3 call guest services or drop by and ask them.  

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This is great info @twangster!  I was told multiple times by the suite concierge on Allure that as a Canadian, this would be offered to me but it is so helpful to see it laid in in @twangsterstep by step format!  Thank you for posting.  Now only 57 days until I get out of dry dock!!! hopefully...

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7 hours ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

This is great info @twangster!  I was told multiple times by the suite concierge on Allure that as a Canadian, this would be offered to me but it is so helpful to see it laid in in @twangsterstep by step format!  Thank you for posting.  Now only 57 days until I get out of dry dock!!! hopefully...

@twangster format is the best format! 😂 

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My test information sheet was delivered to my room today. Testing will be on the 30th for the back to back or anyone else who needs one. Went through after scanning the code and got everything setup for a 8:00 am test. Showed results would be emailed and got an appointment confirmation already so looks like this will be pretty easy. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
3 hours ago, Micheddie said:

All this is very helpful.   Was there an extra cost for this test and did they guarantee results back in time?

No cost on my cruise. 

Crew are from all over the world.  They themselves get tested during the cruise and new crew in quarantine get tested every few days.  Crew ending their contract require tests to fly home.  The testing company is very busy every day testing crew and then the last full cruise day they test guests in the morning.  They have this down and into a well rehearsed operation.

If a test were to come back inconclusive I'm not sure what they would do for a guest.  Retest them probably.

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Anyone else notice the newly released protocols until March 2022 don't mention post-cruise testing for international travelers returning home from US ports?

Maybe I missed it but I only see antigen testing for unvaccinated children at disembarkation.

Hoping it's still an option (even if we have to pay!) as we have a 12:30 flight to catch and don't want to be messing around with testing at the airport!

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13 minutes ago, WanderPam said:

Anyone else notice the newly released protocols until March 2022 don't mention post-cruise testing for international travelers returning home from US ports?

Was it ever advertised on the older protocols?  I don't ever remember seeing it.  That is why I originally reached out to the suite concierge to see if it was being offered.

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18 minutes ago, WanderPam said:

Anyone else notice the newly released protocols until March 2022 don't mention post-cruise testing for international travelers returning home from US ports?

I found mention of it here: 

Prior to Disembarking
For cruises that are 5 nights or longer, kids will take a complimentary antigen test onboard before the cruise ends. Vaccinated guests who require a COVID-19 test for re-entry into their country may receive one onboard as well. Guests will be notified onboard about how to register for this test.

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23 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

Was it ever advertised on the older protocols?  I don't ever remember seeing it.  That is why I originally reached out to the suite concierge to see if it was being offered.

It was in our Alaska protocols for September, but not sure if it was for other sailings 🤔 . But either way glad it is still on the website ! It just seemed odd both the Barbados and San Juan protocols specifically mention testing for international passengers but the US home ports don't . Also noted that Barbados has a cost for it but San Juan doesn't 

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Maybe because for Barbados literally everyone at one time would have needed to be tested.  The testing on board doesn't scale to test two thousand additional people every week for free.  They would have to add resources and space and that costs more money.  

Up to this point the number of non-US international cruisers has been relatively small so they were able to absorb it into the existing budget for testing on board.

If there are thousands of international cruisers now demanding PCR tests the existing budget for their testing program will need to be re-evaluated. 

Bioreference, the company doing the lab on board doesn't work for free.   There is a high cost for having dedicated resources living on the ship doing what they do.  It can't be cheap.  Scaling that to support hundreds and hundreds more test subjects will have a significant cost and at some point the company needs to make money or they might as well not offer cruises. 

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36 minutes ago, twangster said:

Maybe because for Barbados literally everyone at one time would have needed to be tested.  The testing on board doesn't scale to test two thousand additional people every week for free.  They would have to add resources and space and that costs more money.  

Up to this point the number of non-US international cruisers has been relatively small so they were able to absorb it into the existing budget for testing on board.

If there are thousands of international cruisers now demanding PCR tests the existing budget for their testing program will need to be re-evaluated. 

Bioreference, the company doing the lab on board doesn't work for free.   There is a high cost for having dedicated resources living on the ship doing what they do.  It can't be cheap.  Scaling that to support hundreds and hundreds more test subjects will have a significant cost and at some point the company needs to make money or they might as well not offer cruises. 

You are absolutely correct and I was thinking about this just yesterday with the US borders now reopen there could potentially be thousands of international guest traveling to the US to take a cruise between now and who knows when entry restrictions around the world will be relaxed.  There is simply no way Royal or any other major cruise line can cover the cost of testing for every passenger who would need to present a negative test to re-enter their country, this includes American's coming home from Barbados.

Paying for testing to get home after international travel is something we all are going to have to get use too.  

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While it would be nice to have Royal cover it, I would in no way expect it either. If at some point they stop covering it for Canadians and other international guests, I would be ok with paying for it out of pocket as well. It is just the cost of traveling now.
 

That being said, there are some whispers that Canada might drop or change the re-entry PCR requirement soon so who knows. Playing it day by day. I am just so grateful I can drive over to DTW to fly on Delta again. 

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