Coronavirus

We asked our readers when they would feel safe going back on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
Category: 
07Apr2020

With Royal Caribbean suspending all of its sailings until the current crisis clears, many cruisers are wondering what it will be like once cruising resumes.

Last week a Harris poll indicated few would be eager to return to cruising anytime soon, but RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers were quick to point out the sample size was small and not indicative of cruise fans.

Part of the conundrum facing not only Royal Caribbean, but also cruise fans is when they would feel comfortable going back onboard.  To that point, I asked our Facebook followers if they would feel comfortable going on a Royal Caribbean cruise once it resumes.

This not-so-scientific poll ran for about 24 hours, and a lot of people responded fairly quickly.

At the time of writing this post, over 2,100 responses were received, and an overwhelming 1,300 people answered yes, they would feel comfortable going on a Royal Caribbean cruise right away.

On the other hand, 604 people said no they would not, with a smaller fraction (220) answering "maybe".

In addition to the poll, there were plenty of comments and rationale for how everyone voted.

"YES! A GA-ZILLION TIMES YES!!!!"

Of the comments made to the poll, a significant amount were simply stated along these lines.  A lot of cruisers seem to be ready, willing and able to hop back onboard once conditions are right.

"We should expect severe changes in cruising. Medical reports from doctors prior to boarding. Hand washing required or you will removed from the ship. Less chairs by the pool."

Responses like this were not uncommon.  While cruising will resume at some point, the onboard experience may look significantly different, especially in the first few months.

Royal Caribbean has not commented on what changes we can expect onboard, but a heightened approach to guest cleanliness is almost certainly to be expected.

"Maybe. We're booked for November and I still plan on going but I want to see conditions before I am 100% sure. If covid comes back with a new wave, no, I don't want to chance it. Right now it's just too soon to tell."

While the votes for "maybe" were the least voted on option, a great deal of comments erred on the side of cautious optimism. It seems many want to vote yes, but were hesitant to fully commit until the overall situation is clearer.

"If Royal Caribbean says it's time to cruise , Its time to cruise, I trust this company more than I trust most people."

Being that this is a blog about Royal Caribbean written by, and for, Royal Caribbean fans, it was not too surprising to see comments like this. Many cruisers are eager to return to their favorite kind of vacation on their favorite cruise line.

"I answered “Yes” but honestly it’s with a pretty big asterisk. We will definitely cruise again - just not sure how soon I want to congregate with so many people in confined space. That said, we are still booked on an Alaskan cruise in August ... and would likely go if it’s not another wise cancelled; my thought bring it might not be an overly crowded sailing."

This comment raised an interesting observation that in the short term, ships may be far less crowded than we were used to prior to the pandemic outbreak. This remains to be seen, but it may put some concerns at ease if ships are not completely full off the bat.

The winner for the best GIF reaction to the poll was this:

Your thoughts

If you missed out on the poll, let us all know in the comments below what you think. Will you be ready to cruise as soon as Royal Caribbean resumes? Or will you be waiting a few weeks or months before getting back onboard?

Two crew members with coronavirus evacuated from Oasis of the Seas

In:
06Apr2020

Two crew members from Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas were evacuated off Oasis of the Seas in Port Everglades on Sunday evening.

The Miami Herald reports the two crew members were "showing COVID-19 symptoms."  The evacuations were made possible with the assistance of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Oasis of the Seas is not conducting cruises with guests onboard.  Royal Caribbean has been shutdown since mid-March, but their ships remain sailing until the industry is ready to resume service.

At least 14 crew members on board have tested positive for COVID-19 on Oasis of the Seas.

On March 30, one Oasis of the Seas crew member and one Symphony of the Seas crew member were evacuated with respiratory problems. On April 2, two more Oasis crew members were evacuated to Broward Health hospitals.

CDC releases new cruise ship guidelines for disembarking passengers during COVID-19

In:
06Apr2020

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its recommendations for cruise ship travelers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These new recommendations were released over the weekend, and are aimed at ensuring cruisers get home as quickly and safely as possible.

The CDC is coordinating these efforts with the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, port authorities, local and state health departments, and Department of State.

Most notably, the CDC recommends that cruise lines get passengers who have no symptoms or mild symptoms off the ship as quickly and safely as possible in the United States, and ensure they get home directly via chartered or private transportation.

The CDC specifically says commercial flights and public transportation should not be used.

Prior to this recommendation, the CDC said it was acceptable for passengers who exhibited no symptoms and passed a temperature check to travel on on commercial flights or public transportation, assuming they wore a face mask and self-isolated for 14 days once home.

Will there be cruises to Alaska in 2020?

In:
03Apr2020

Summer cruises to Alaska are one of the highlights of Royal Caribbean's offerings, but the 2020 Alaska cruise season seems in doubt with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

If you have a cruise booked for Alaska this year, here is a look at all the information we know that impacts sailings to The Last Frontier.

No cruises until at least July

Royal Caribbean has already taken a step to cancel all Alaska cruises until July 1, 2020.

On March 24, Royal Caribbean extended its suspension of cruises until May 12, however, they also decided to cancel all Alaska cruises through June 30, 2020.

The decision was based on two primary factors: the ongoing spread of Coronavirus, as well as American and Canadian port closures.

Canadian port closures

A major factor prohibiting any Alaska cruise is the decision of the Canadian government to close its ports to cruise traffic, which means Royal Caribbean's ships cannot enter these ports.

On March 13, Transport Canada announced it would defer the start of the cruise ship season in Canada from April 2, 2020 to July 1, 2020, at the earliest.  This deferral will apply to cruise ships capable of carrying more than 500 passengers and crew members.

There are two primary ports Royal Caribbean relies on for its Canadian cruises: Vancouver and Victoria.

Vancouver is where Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas homeport during the season, while Victoria is a port of call for cruises out of Seattle.

Without access to Canadian ports, it is impossible for Royal Caribbean to operate any cruises, since even sailings beginning in the United States require a foreign port stop at some point in order to be in compliance with U.S. laws.

Port of Seattle delays

In addition to Canadian port closures, the Port of Seattle has delayed its start to the 2020 cruise season.

The Port now expects the launch of the cruise season will be delayed until the resolution of the public health emergency.

As a result of COVID-19, the start of Seattle’s cruise season will depend on the status of the public health emergency and the advice of local, state and federal public health officials.

The CDC has issued a nonessential travel warning and a temporary no sail order for cruise ships, and the State and King County have imposed a number of strict limitations to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Cruisers should know applying or renewing a passport is basically impossible due to coronavirus pandemic

In:
Category: 
02Apr2020

One of the best pieces of advice I offer to cruisers is to invest in a passport for a cruise, but applying for one or renewing now is basically impossible due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. State Department has halted its passport services except for limited exceptions. 

Unless it is a life-or-death situation, passport service is not available.

Effective March 20, 2020, we are only able to offer service for customers with a qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours.

If you are wondering what constitutes an emergency, it is serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family (e.g. parent, child, spouse, sibling, aunt, uncle, etc) that require you to travel outside the United States within 72 hours (3 days).

In order to have your passport application processed, you must provide:

  • A passport application with supporting documents
  • Proof of the life-or-death emergency such as a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional. Documents
  • Proof of international travel (e.g. reservation, ticket, itinerary)

If you are trying to apply or renew a U.S. passport  on or after March 20, 2020, the State Department says they will not offer expedited service and routine service may be delayed. 

If you applied and requested expedited service on or before March 19, 2020, the State Department will honor its commitment of a 2-3 week turnaround time, door-to-door, for expedited service.

As of March 25, 2020, post offices which are still accepting applications are requiring customers to make an online appointment to apply in person for a U.S. passport. If you need to apply in person for your U.S. passport, please contact the facility directly to confirm the status of its operations

Royal Caribbean bolsters financial situation with $3.48 billion in backup financing

In:
02Apr2020

Royal Caribbean's recent filing with the SEC indicates it has taken advantage of $3.48 billion in backup financing between two revolving lines of credit.

The loans come as the cruise line contends with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the cruise industry. This new backup financing means the cruise line has emptied its revolving credit coffers.

The move comes just over a week after Royal Caribbean took out a $2.2 billion loan on March 23. At the time, the company said it had $3.6 billion of liquidity, including undrawn revolving credit lines.

In addition to taking out loans, the cruise line has indicated it will cut costs, as well as pay cuts for the cruise line's executives.

The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has forced Royal Caribbean to cancel 30 days of sailings two times, with cruises beginning no earlier than mid-May.

Royal Caribbean extends ability to cancel a cruise up to 48 hours before a sailing through September 1 due to coronavirus

In:
30Mar2020

Royal Caribbean announced today it has extended its Cruise with Confidence cancellation policy to now include sailings through September 1, 2020.

Under this policy, Royal Caribbean is providing guests with the flexibility to cancel a cruise for any reason up to 48 hours before a sailing is scheduled to depart.  

 Guests will receive a full Future Cruise Credit for their fare, usable on any future sailing of choice in 2020 or 2021.

The Cruise with Confidence program was introduced earlier this month at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, and provides significantly relaxed rules concerning cancelling a cruise if the situation changes for a guest.

Ordinarily, guests would incur a penalty for cancelling a sailing beyond the final payment date, which is typically 90 days before a sailing commences. Cruise with Confidence provides a great deal more flexibility to change minds with no penalty.

“Guests are reacting positively to our Cruise with Confidence policy,” says company chairman and CEO Richard Fain, “because it enables them to make informed decisions and to better manage complicated travel plans during this unprecedented time of uncertainty.”

The extension applies to all cruises with sailing dates on or before September 1, 2020, and applies to the company’s global brands Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara.

All Cruise with Confidence Future Cruise Credits must be redeemed on sailings departing on-or-before December 31, 2021.

Currently, Royal Caribbean has cancelled all of its sailings between March 14 and May 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and plans to resume service on May 12, 2020.

In addition, due to port closures around the world, Royal Caribbean added they expect to return to service for Alaska, Canada and New England sailings July 1, 2020.

Spotted: Royal Caribbean issues safety guidelines to crew members to curb the spread of Coronavirus

In:
30Mar2020

Royal Caribbean has issued new safety protocols to its crew members that are working on its cruise ships to help stop the spread of COVID-19 outbreaks onboard.

In the wake of at least 14 crew members on Oasis of the Seas confirmed to be infected, Royal Caribbean has issued new safety guidelines.

According to Crew-Center.com, the letter passed to crew on Navigator of the Seas includes these 10 new rules:

1. Only crew that are assigned to work can leave their room
2. Crew that are not working MUST STAY in their room. Failure to comply will result in disciplinary action up to termination.
3. Smokers are NOT ALLOWED out of their rooms to smoke. Smoking in the cabin is also NOT ALLOWED. Failure to comply will result in disciplinary action up to termination.
4. Food and water will be delivered to your room, the menu selection will be on your television.
5. In-room movies will be available within few hours, please be patient as we need to add you into the system first.
6. Please treat the room with respect, keep it clean and tidy. This is still a guest stateroom.
7. Fresh linen and toilet paper will be provided.
8. The moment you experience and of the following symptoms call the nurse on duty: High Fever, Coughing, Breathing Problems.
9 We will continue with our twice-daily temperature check, your management team will come to you, DO NOT leave your cabin.
10. Keep your self healthy by practicing good hygiene and wash your hands as often as possible.

All Royal Caribbean ships are currently shut down from cruising with guests. There are only crew members onboard maintaining the ships until regular sailings resume.

Royal Caribbean reiterated its commitment to its crew members and their safety in a statement, “The health and well-being of our crew is our foremost priority. Crewmembers who exhibited symptoms were evaluated by our medical staff and remain under close supervision. In accordance with our health and safety protocols, our crew have been asked to self-isolate in cabins while we await confirmation of initial results from public health authorities.”

Royal Caribbean hopes to resume sailings on May 12, 2020 to some destinations.

Royal Caribbean asks to delay start of new Galveston cruise terminal by a year due to coronavirus

In:
29Mar2020

Royal Caribbean has asked the Port of Galveston to delay the start of construction on a brand new cruise terminal by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Daily News reports Port Director Rodger Rees delivered the request to the Wharves Board of Trustees, and it will be discussed at an upcoming meeting on Tuesday.

Mr. Rees specified that the delay is not official yet and that the port and Royal Caribbean must agree on new terms.

In the early days of the pandemic, Royal Caribbean announced it was taking certain steps to improve its financial situation, including reducing capital expenditures.

Mr. Rees also indicated that Royal Caribbean wants to build the new terminal, just not this year.

In December 2019, Royal Caribbean and the Port of Galveston signed a long-term agreement to build a $100 million 150,000-square-foot cruise terminal.

Prior to this proposed delay, the new terminal was slated to open in November 2021.

The new cruise terminal will be big enough to handle Royal Caribbean's largest cruise ships, including an Oasis Class ship or the new Icon Class ships slated to debut in 2022.

In coordination with the new terminal, the cruise line was planning on homeporting Allure of the Seas in Galveston, beginning in 2021.

Positive cases of Coronavirus reported on Oasis of the Seas among the crew

In:
29Mar2020

Approximately 14 crew members on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas have tested positive for coronavirus.

The Miami Herald is reporting a recording by the ship's Captain confirms the presence of COVID-19 onboard.

Oasis of the Seas has no guests onboard. Royal Caribbean suspended operations for at least 60 days beginning in mid-March.

Crew-Center.com reports the crew that have tested positive will remain onboard, and other enhanced measures will take place to prevent the spread of the virus.

Royal Caribbean said in a statement: “The health and well-being of our crew is our foremost priority. Crewmembers who exhibited symptoms were evaluated by our medical staff and remain under close supervision. In accordance with our health and safety protocols, our crew have been asked to self-isolate in cabins while we await confirmation of initial results from public health authorities.”

Oasis of the Seas is currently sailing around The Bahamas.

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