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At home test vs. CVS/Walgreens


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I'm 16 days from Harmony of the Seas and I'm torn as to which method is correct for COVID-19 testing.  I'm nervous about taking the at-home test (already purchased the Binax test, so that's not the problem). I don't want to mess it up, so I was considering getting the test done at either CVS or Walgreens.  I'm fully vaccinated (and boosted), so I think I'm supposed to take the antigen test.  I've seen that both offer what they describe as 'rapid' testing, but both descriptions include the caveat 'not accepted for all travel'.  What exactly does that mean and how do I find out if RCL accepts either of these tests?  I'd hate to take the test at CVS/Walgreens and find out on embarkation day that I took the wrong test and my results are not accepted.  (btw...they don't offer testing in the terminal on embarkation day do they?)  I'd hate to pay out all the money that I have only to lose it.  (i think RCL doesn't offer refunds due to incorrect paperwork, but I could be wrong)  I'd appreciate any help provided as my date draws close.

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RCL DOES accept the CVS and Walgreens rapid, PCR or NAAT PCR.  I have used them.  There will be no issue with it.  Their caveat about travel is because some places might want a PCR, so it's a "disclaimer" that it might not be good enough for all travel.
As far as the home test, I too had them, never used them because I was afraid I would screw up.  Watch the video posted above.  The only thing different now is the liquid bottle, I just finished taking the at home test (second time doing it) I used my laptop both times.  The guides are very good, and they are very patient.  I take my time, they are paid to do their jobs and I don't feel rushed at all.  You could always try the at home and have another test at CVS or Walgreens booked "just in case".
I've noticed that a lot of the CVS near me no longer offer antigen (rapid) tests for travel, they are offering PCR.  Some say you can now get the antigen at CVS with a health visit, but I know my insurance wouldn't be approving that, so "buyer beware".  Walgreens near my friends area was still offering rapid as well as PCR and the NAAT-PCR (a rapid PCR). There are non in my area that offer it.

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I've started to just use the at home tests. I've always had them available as my plan B. My first time back cruising in October CVS cancelled our tests the day before so three days from cruise, plan B worked. I then used my Primary Care Physician for a couple, but the last time they had started doing the tests in their office and what they gave me for results made me nervous. It was just the doctors letter head paper that just said I was negative. None of the other sorts of things like lab number. I did the at home again, no problem. I also feel that so many people are doing the at home, the port people are familiar with what the document looks like. I also always have extra tests, just in case I do mess up.

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The test Royal suggest is the Abbot test.  There are two options, the 2 pack and the 3 pack.  If I buy the 2 pack, is that one test for me and one for my wife?.....or do we each need our own box of 2?  I know its a silly question but I don't want anything to go wrong and this test has me stressed 

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We also live where Matt lives and there are FREE drive thru tests available at every Walgreens...and there are a lot of them in the area. And yes, they are accepted by Royal. We have been on two cruises post COVID and have had no issues with the tests from Walgreens. You should have no problem getting tested prior to your cruise. Enjoy!

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Pattycruise makes a good point regarding the availability of rapid antigen (ag) tests at CVS. Many CVS pharmacies in my area (Fort Lauderdale, Coconut Creek) no longer do the rapid ag test. The still do a drive up PCR test and these are covered by most insurance - no clinic visit. In our area, Walgreens clinics are connected to the University of Miami Health System. I'm a patient in that system by virtue of several visits for testing and that makes it supper easy to book an appointment about as far out as I want. So, far, my ag hasn't been billed as a clinic visit but this is going to vary as state funding (from federal programs) of testing is different everywhere (confusing). So, what works for me in FL may not work for cruisers seeking testing in Illinois. 

It also pays to call the Walgreen's pharmacy you plan on visiting for a clinic or drive through test and verify that they have and are administering the ag tests. I've found that the testing process varies and some pharmacies aren't doing or are out of ag tests.

I've used the Abbot BinaxNow monitored home test 9x for required pre-boarding COVID testing since June, 2021. I use the NAVICA App that you can download to your phone at Google Play (Andorid) or the Apple Store (iPhone). I've done the tests on-line via the web site and using my android phone via the NAVICA App. I prefer the later.

There's already been a comment that Abbot Labs makes a home self test (2 tests in each kit) and a monitored home test (one test in each kit). The test you need to clear the bar for COVID screening is a MONITORED test either at home/via your phone, on-line at the web site or in a clinic by a HC Pro.

There was also a testing related post a while back where a poster claimed all you had to do was use the free tests you can get through the USPS service. To my knowledge the USPS testing service ONLY PROVIDES AN UNMONITORED SELF TEST - these won't clear the bar for pre-cruise COVID testing.

I've never had a problem doing the test on my phone via the NAVICA App, getting it resulted, printing a copy of the results (everything needed is on it) and having it accepted by Celebrity both in Europe (Athens and Barcelona) and Port Everglades. I recommend, as have others, that you have a digital copy of the resulted ag test test on your phone and a hard copy that you've placed in an accessible location for check-in.

I put the date I need to do the monitored home test on my Google Calendar (2d before the cruise) and schedule a back-up test at my local Walgreens the day after (1d before the cruise). If everything goes smoothly with the Abbot Home test, I canel the Walgreen's appointment. I've used the back-up once because I took the test inadvertently 3d before my cruise.

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Geez, there's a whole Winter Garden contingent here apparently.

My wife teaches at the WG elementary school that a certain CD's kids went to. We sailed with him once and they were onboard that week.

Sorry for semi-hijacking the thread.

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8 minutes ago, LovetoCruise87 said:

Quick question. Our last cruise we did the rapid antigen test at CVS, but no longer, nor at Walgreens. Is the Rapid NAAT Test good for testing to cruise?

Yes, NAAT at Walgreens is what most people who go that route are using. It's specifically mentioned on the RC testing page. It's actually a rapid PCR test.

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10 minutes ago, LovetoCruise87 said:

Thank you, I must have missed that

You're welcome.

BTW, I only mentioned that so you could double check the site rather than just trust a random internet poster. Hope it didn't come off like I felt you should have known that already. Happy testing and cruising! Our 5/29 Harmony cruise will be our first since 2019.

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10 minutes ago, OCSC Mike said:

You're welcome.

BTW, I only mentioned that so you could double check the site rather than just trust a random internet poster. Hope it didn't come off like I felt you should have known that already. Happy testing and cruising! Our 5/29 Harmony cruise will be our first since 2019.

I always appreciate any information. We will be on Harmony on 9/4, it will be our second post Covid cruise

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4 hours ago, Glenn Racine said:

The test Royal suggest is the Abbot test.  There are two options, the 2 pack and the 3 pack.  If I buy the 2 pack, is that one test for me and one for my wife?.....or do we each need our own box of 2?  I know its a silly question but I don't want anything to go wrong and this test has me stressed 

People have reported that they wished they had extra tests because things went wrong during the proctored test.
Things that can go wrong
You open the box before the proctor tells you are allowed to (the box has a large warning DO NOT OPEN
you lose wifi connection
The dropper bottle is empty
Your test drops to the floor or out of site of the camera
You touch the wrong part of the test board (they warn you not to)
Any of the above happens and your test is VOID so it is recommended to have extra on hand.
Also google the test, there is a video you can watch that shows how to take the test, one guy was creating the video and accidentally dropped his test....and fortunately he had an extra on hand.
Royal sells the tests
Emed.com sells a 6 pack only that is $150 plus tax/shipping.
Either way you go it might be reimbursable (or partially reimbursable) by your insurance.

I am on a sailing group that is leaving this Sunday.
One lady reported on our Facebook group that she took and passed her proctored exam.
when her husband logged in to do his, the bottle they had was EMPTY-therefore no test could be done.  They did not have extras, She is now scrambling to find another way to test.

 

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Just got back from Walgreens for their "Rapid NAAT Test", it was quick and easy. We used the drive-thru and it took maybe 5-8 minutes, most of which was the Walgreens person filling out paperwork. She said we'd have results in about two hours. Actually the results came back via email almost exactly one hour later. Very simple, no problems at all. 

 Got the paperwork printed out, just need to finish packing. 

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With the Abbot home test Royal suggests they will email the results is it mandatory to download that Navica application also? Can you create the account using your PC without the app? There are three of us so would I have to create 3 separate accounts? 

We are sailing 13 June so must test Saturday the 10th and everywhere we usually go has either stopped testing or is closed. Sailing out of PC and driving over the day before, really don't want to test at the available doc in box same day of sailing, my nerves could not take it.

I'm getting so over this, 🤦‍♀️

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34 minutes ago, Lugnut said:

Just got back from Walgreens for their "Rapid NAAT Test", it was quick and easy. We used the drive-thru and it took maybe 5-8 minutes, most of which was the Walgreens person filling out paperwork. She said we'd have results in about two hours. Actually the results came back via email almost exactly one hour later. Very simple, no problems at all. 

 Got the paperwork printed out, just need to finish packing. 

For Walgreens do you just drive up, can this be done for 3 people? Do you need to make an appointment? 

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On 4/29/2022 at 1:11 PM, OCSC Mike said:

Yes, NAAT at Walgreens is what most people who go that route are using. It's specifically mentioned on the RC testing page. It's actually a rapid PCR test.

That's good to know.  We have the eMed tests; however, I think I will schedule the Rapid NAAT at Walgreens as a backup.  We have 6 tests but we have 2 cruises and we have to test to return to US on 2nd one.  I might want to take 4 tests so that we have 2 extra to test before flying back to US from Amsterdam.  One can only hope that they will stop the flying to US testing!!!!!!!  All this testing is so stressful as the timing doesn't allow much wiggle room (especially the 1 day be fly back home and depending on VOOM to work)!

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Just got back from our Harmony sailing.  I stressed about the tests, too, and now feel silly.  It was so easy to do the at-home proctored test! I played around with my phone and laptop cameras the day before and discovered it was easier for me to use my lap top.  I set it a little more than arm's length away so that I did not have to angle the top down very far to see the test on the table.  The instructions from the proctor were very easy to follow.  The second proctor who came back to read the test was harder for me to understand because he was a native Spanish speaker and spoke veryveryfast.  I told him I couldn't follow him and he (adorably) chanted to himself "slow down, slow down" and then he was very easy to understand.  So it's ok to just talk to the people you are working with, which set me at ease. 

The test itself is exactly like many others I have done at home before going to a party or visiting vulnerable people, so that part was easy.  I could see if you are not someone who has tested yourself much, it could be slightly more difficult, but honestly the proctor instructions combined with the images on the screen make it pretty easy.  

Anyway, OP, I think the overall message you are getting in this thread is that it will be ok whichever you choose.  Happy cruising!

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If the time frame works for you, you *COULD* get the free test kits (4 in a box) offered by the CDC (CDC.gov) to practice with before doing the Royal approved proctored test.  The technique is slightly different but if do one or two as practice and also watch one of the numerous YouTube videos you'll be fine.  As a bonus you'll get test results now instead of it being a surprise with the real thing 🙂

 

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We sailed last month, and I was SO stressed about the test. I booked an appointment with Quest Diagnostics using the link Royal provided. My parents sailed with us and took their test in Florida about 36 hours ahead of embarkation. My daughter and I got tested in Albuquerque 48 hours before embarkation. My parents had their results within 24 hours, but my results did not come in until 1am the night before the cruise. I was freaking out! As a backup plan, I was going to show up at the terminal and ask that they let us use the testing they have at the pier for unvaccinated children since in that case our test results would still not have arrived in time. But that wasn't necessary. I printed everyone's results from the hotel, and check in was very smooth.

I would likely choose this option again because it worked, it was free, and I didn't have to worry about anything going wrong since I got tested at a professional lab. And it was a PCR test as well, so it's extra accurate. Additionally I would say that I have a lot of confidence in the labs that do testing in Florida because they seem to know the drill when it comes to cruise testing. 

And finally, another thing that gave me some comfort was I used a home test to confirm that we were negative before we went in for our lab test. It's bad enough having to wait for the results without also worrying that they'll come in POSITIVE!

I hope that helps!

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