Coronavirus

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.

What should you do if Royal Caribbean cancels your cruise because of coronavirus pandemic?

In:
Category: 
28Mar2020

The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has forced Royal Caribbean to cancel 30 days of sailings two times, which has impacted thousands of people who have had their vacation plans disrupted. 

The need to limit the spread of COVID-19 among the cruising public is an understandable safety precaution, and it is entirely possible more sailings may need to be cancelled in the future.

Many cruisers are wondering if their upcoming cruise will be cancelled, and if it does here is what you need to know.

Decide which refund offer you want

The first decision you will have to make if Royal Caribbean cancels your cruise is which refund option you prefer.

With the first two sets of cancelled cruises, Royal Caribbean has offered guests the choice of a 100% refund or a 125% Future Cruise Credit.

There is no wrong option, it boils down to do you prefer to get your money back in cash, or take advantage of a generous credit that can be applied to a cruise in the future.

If you know you will cruise again, the 25% bonus could mean moving up to a nicer stateroom or going on a longer sailing. Of course, a refund means money back in your pocket sooner and perhaps that is more of a concern in the short term.

Keep in mind all of these options are if Royal Caribbean makes the decision to cancel your sailing.  If you decide to cancel your cruise because of coronavirus before Royal Caribbean does, then you are subject to different terms.

Don't call

Unfortunately, Royal Caribbean's call centers have been inundated with people calling to get answers and solutions to a variety of concerns, which has resulted in significantly longer hold times.

Resist the urge to call Royal Caribbean immediately when your cruise is cancelled. The cruise line will provide you with ample time to decide on which refund option you wan to select, so there is no need to sit on an extended period of time on hold to get your choice made.

Better yet, if you used a travel agent, you will need to have them do this on your behalf.  I have always been a major advocate of using a travel agent, and in these times of long hold times, having a travel agent do the work is such a great benefit to the customer.

Royal Caribbean does provide a self-serice form to guests who want to forfeit the 125% future cruise credit and take the refund. This makes the refund process significantly easier.

Pre-cruise purchases will be refunded

 

Cruise add-on costs are automatically refunded back to you, so there is no need to do anything when it comes to the drink packages, WiFi, dining packages or shore excursions you booked.

Some people prefer to cancel them immediately via the Cruise Planner site to get the ball rolling on the refund being processed, but I do not believe it is a critical decision to make.

Purchases made via the Cruise Planner are the first refunds to be processed, and seem to come back to the original form of payment well before the cruise fare.

Don't forget to cancel flights, hotels and transportation

While Royal Caribbean may have cancelled your cruise, do not forget to cancel other forms of transportation and arrangements you have made leading up to your cruise.

Flights, hotels, kennel reservations and car rentals are just some of the things that you will need to cancel on your own.

You will need to check with each provider to know the cancellation terms that are applicable to you. Luckily, most travel providers are offering flexible cancellation terms, but you may need to also decide between a credit or full refund.

Be sure to also contact any third-party shore excursions you may have booked to get refunds on deposits.

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