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CDC raises warning to highest level for going on a cruise ship

In:
30 Dec 2021

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a new warning against going on a cruise ship, raising its warning level to the highest again.

The CDC changed the warning because of the Omicron variant and the increase in cases onboard cruise ships. It recommends to avoid cruise travel, regardless of vaccination status.

The warning level has gone from level 3 to level 4.

The CDC's 4-level system categorizes destinations, including international destinations and United States Territories, into the following four levels:

  • Level 4: Very high level of COVID-19
  • Level 3: High level of COVID-19
  • Level 2: Moderate level of COVID-19
  • Level 1: Low level of COVID-19

This is not the first time the CDC has issued such a high warning. It did so in November 2020 before lowering it to level 3 in June 2021.

According to the CDC, the virus that causes Covid-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters on board ships, and the chance of getting Covid-19 on cruise ships is very high, even if you are fully vaccinated and have received a Covid-19 vaccine booster dose.

The CDC recommends people who go on a cruise should get tested 1–3 days before their trip and 3–5 days after their trip, regardless of vaccination status or symptoms.

Unvaccinated passengers should not only test, but self-quarantine for a full 5 days after cruise travel.  Royal Caribbean does not allow anyone above the age of 11 to sail on its ships if they are unvaccinated.

The CDC's warning

The basis for raising the warning level stems from the Omicron variant and an increase in cases onboard ships.

"Since the identification of the Omicron variant, there has been an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases among cruise passengers and crew reported to CDC. Additionally, there has been an increase in the number of cruise ships meeting the COVID-19 case threshold for CDC investigation."

According to the CDC, cases reported on cruise ships have increased 31 percent over the last two weeks.

This compares to the overall rate of infection in the United States, which has increased 153 percent over the same time period, although it is likely a steeper difference as we know that testing rates are far higher on cruise ships than in the general population.

Cruise ships have strictest Covid protocols

Since restarting cruises in June, Royal Caribbean and the cruise industry have implemented the strictest health protocols of any private business.

Royal Caribbean has gone above and beyond measures enacted by any other industry to ensure guest and crew member safety.

Here is a short list of the protocols required by Royal Caribbean:

  • Mandatory Covid-19 vaccination for passengers 12 years and older
  • Mandatory mask wearing in all indoor venues unless seated and actively eating or drinking
  • Social distancing
  • Mandatory pre-cruise test of every single passenger
  • Weekly testing of every single crew members
  • Unvaccinated children get tested multiple times, including on embarkation day
  • Hospital-grade HEPA filter of air circulation on cruise ships

While Covid-19 cases on Royal Caribbean ships have increased recently due to Omicron, none of the Omicron cases have been severe or needed to be taken to a hospital.

Cruise industry reaction

Almost immediately after the CDC raised the warning, the cruise industry fired back.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) issued this statement defending the cruise industry's work to keep crew members and passengers safe.

"The decision by the CDC to raise the travel level for cruise is particularly perplexing considering that cases identified on cruise ships consistently make up a very slim minority of the total population onboard—far fewer than on land—and the majority of those cases are asymptomatic or mild in nature, posing little to no burden on medical resources onboard or onshore."

Texas joins lawsuit against CDC to get cruises restarted | Royal Caribbean Blog

"No setting can be immune from this virus—however, it is also the case that cruise provides one of the highest levels of demonstrated mitigation against the virus. Cruise ships offer a highly controlled environment with science-backed measures, known testing and vaccination levels far above other venues or modes of transportation and travel, and significantly lower incidence rates than land."

"While we are disappointed and disagree with the decision to single out the cruise industry—an industry that continues to go above and beyond compared to other sectors—CLIA and our ocean-going cruise line members remain committed to working collaboratively with the CDC in the interest of public health and safety."

Royal Caribbean says Omicron variant fears have only had a short-term effect on bookings

In:
30 Dec 2021

Royal Caribbean Group told investors on Thursday that Omicron variant fears have seen an increase in cancellations and reduced bookings lately, but it has thus far only had a short-term impact.

The business update was issued by Royal Caribbean International's parent company as a way to explain what they are seeing as it relates to the bottom line.

Here's a look at the important takeaways from the update.

Omicron

Royal Caribbean adding mandatory temperature screenings to screen for Coronavirus in guests | Royal Caribbean Blog

Across the brands of Royal Caribbean Group, the Royal Caribbean Group has carried since June 2021 1.1 million guests with 1,745 people testing positive – a positivity rate of 0.02%. 

As it relates to Omicron, none of the Omicron cases on its ships have been severe or needed to be taken to a hospital. The company believes this is a result of almost everyone onboard having been vaccinated and having a negative test before boarding.

When looking at all variants of Covid-19, Royal Caribbean Group has carried 1.1 million guests with 1,745 people testing positive – a positivity rate of 0.02%.

A look at the protocols Royal Caribbean has in place to combat Omicron variant | Royal Caribbean Blog

"Omicron is having a big short-term impact on everyone, but many observers see this as a major step towards COVID-19 becoming endemic rather than epidemic," said Richard Fain, Chairman & CEO.

"We don’t like to see even one case, but our experience is a fraction of the comparable statistics of virtually any other comparable location or industry. Few businesses are subject to such intense scrutiny, regulation, and disclosure requirements by so many authorities, and we welcome that scrutiny because of our commitment to safety. We intend to maintain our goal of delivering the safest vacation on land or sea and will constantly adjust our procedures to accomplish this even in the face of Omicron’s amazing transmissibility."

Impact on reservations

Royal Caribbean now accepts cruise ship passengers with mixed series of mRNA vaccines | Royal Caribbean Blog

While Omicron has been front page news, so far its impact on bookings has only had a short-term impact.

Right after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Royal Caribbean Group, "experienced a decline in bookings and increased cancellations for near-term sailings but to a lesser degree than that experienced with the Delta variant. "

Load factors for sailings in the first half of 2022 remain below historical levels, as expected. However, sailings for the second half of 2022 continue to be booked within historical ranges, at higher prices with and without Future Cruise Credits (FCCs), with strong demand from the critical U.S. market.

Onboard experience

Top 25 free things you can do on Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean also addressed the impact Omicron has had on passengers and crew.

Just like all aspects of travel, the labor supply is being hit hard by Omicron because of the increase in workers testing positive, which means less employees to work.

Similar issues are impacting the company’s onboard service capabilities.  

No changes to Royal Caribbean cruises following Puerto Rico earthquake | Royal Caribbean Blog

In addition, the company is experiencing service disruptions at selected destinations and to date has cancelled or significantly modified 16 destination calls out of 331. The company expects these disruptions to continue in the near term and then decline as the world adjusts to the current trends. 

Fain concluded, “We are constantly learning and adjusting as Omicron appears to be ushering in a new phase in the fight against COVID-19."

"We expect these factors to have a negative impact in the short term but are optimistic they will lead us to a more pervasive but less severe health environment. Taken together, this should enable us to produce a strong transitional year in 2022 and a very strong 2023.”

Royal Caribbean sets expectations for impact Omicron can have on cruise ships with email to passengers

In:
29 Dec 2021

With the cruise industry being targeted by the media for Covid-19 cases onboard its ships, Royal Caribbean sent an email to passengers booked on a cruise over the next few weeks to give them realistic expectations.

Royal Caribbean amends loans on Anthem and Spectrum of the Seas due to coronavirus pandemic | Royal Caribbean Blog

A number of cruise ships have reported Covid-19 cases onboard, as well as had to skip ports of call due to the country denying entry, and even cancelling shows onboard its ships because of cases among the performers.

Royal Caribbean sent an email to passengers booked on a cruise between now and January 17, 2022 to inform them that unexpected changes are likely and should be expected.

In the email, Royal Caribbean said the increase of Covid-19 cases from the Omicron variant has caused many changes, "with the increase in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant, our public health guidance continues to evolve and we want to let you know what to expect as we prepare to welcome you onboard."

First Royal Caribbean test cruise should begin today | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean also pointed out that its crew members are fully vaccinated and boosted, along with its vaccine mandate for passengers, "All our crew members are fully vaccinated, have received booster shots when eligible, and are tested on a weekly basis with high contact front of house service staff tested every three days.

"All your fellow guests 12 and older are fully vaccinated and tested before boarding. And the small number of children sailing who are 11 and under get a second test at the terminal and are increasingly vaccinated. Typically, your onboard cruise community vaccination rate is in the 95% range."

While the cruise lines implement health protocols that no other form of travel comes close to matching, nothing is foolproof and Covid can still be spread onboard, "Even with such a high onboard community vaccination rate and enhanced protocols in place, there is a possibility of positive cases arising during your sailing, just as there is an inherent risk of COVID-19 anywhere people congregate or gather. "

12 differences between the big and small Royal Caribbean cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

In terms of ports not allowing cruise ships, Royal Caribbean talked about the collaborative effort they have with these countries, "We also work with local governments in all the ports of your itinerary who are informed of the ship's public health status before arrival and together, we decide if we can debark in their country."

"When we make these decisions, we consider the number of COVID positive cases onboard, and also the number of cases in the destination community along with factors such as the community vaccination status. Should we need to cancel a port of call, we will always do our best to find an alternate destination or work through a resolution for our missed port."

Royal Caribbean also warned guests that changes in onboard activities can occur, including:

  • ice skating
  • rock climbing
  • laser tag
  • production shows
  • Adventure Ocean

Under the media microscope

Royal Caribbean is first cruise line to restart cruises from Tampa | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean's email comes in the wake of a great deal of news reports about Covid on cruise ships.

Just like in 2020, many mainstream media outlets are reporting on every single case of Covid on a cruise ship.

Unlike 2020, Royal Caribbean is armed with a slew of protocols and strategies that no other form of domestic travel uses.

Aaron Saunders, the News & Features Editor for CruiseCritic pointed out the stark reality of the lengths the cruise lines go to in order to keep customers safe, unlike airlines, trains or any other form of domestic travel.

Ashley Kosciolek, a travel writer for The Points Guy, feels not only has the media been unfair in its reporting of Covid on cruise ships, but they lack proper knowledge of what the lines are doing, "I've been on 10 since June and would gladly do 10 more."

"I challenge any of the people whining about it to take a cruise. I guarantee they'd eat their words.

Why you need to be flexible if you want to go on a cruise right now

In:
28 Dec 2021

Going on a cruise is still a really fun family vacation, even during a pandemic, but it's important you understand the nature of cruising right now and be okay with changes.

If the idea of last-minute changes to rules and protocols bother you, perhaps putting off your cruise a bit longer might be prudent.

Over the last two weeks, cruise ships have been back in the focus of the media following higher-than-usual Covid cases onboard, which felt like perhaps things were regressing backwards instead of moving forward.

The cruise line appear ready to deal with the threat of the Omicron variant and continue forward, but these last two weeks have been a good reminder to anyone thinking of going on a cruise that changes are not only likely, they should be expected.

Odyssey of the Seas to begin her first test cruise today | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you are going to sail on a cruise ship while Covid-19 is a major threat, be prepared and flexible.

Ports refusing ships, new mask rules, vaccine requirements, and who knows what else could affect an upcoming sailing, so it is vital that you not only stay up-to-date with these policy revisions, but not allow them to get in the way of enjoying your cruise.

Early on this summer when the first ships were back in service, I think many cruisers recognized protocol changes were likely and expected them.

Royal Caribbean extends ability to cancel cruises with additional flexibility through January 2022 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Soon thereafter, we got lucky over the summer and fall with relatively few Covid cases onboard and protocols not changing much.  If you went on a cruise ship in October or November, you probably saw the most lax view by guests and crew towards certain requirements.

Covid cases on Symphony of the Seas and Odyssey of the Seas served as a wake-up call for the cruise lines, and Royal Caribbean implemented tighter mask requirements along with a renewed emphasis on ensuring passengers follow the rules.

It suddenly felt like I was cruising again in June 2021, as rules were changing often and some cruisers clearly were not pleased with so many last-minute changes.

On the RoyalCaribbeanBlog message boards, there were quite a few comments on rule changes and what to expect. Some positive, and some negative. The bottom line is we got lucky with how smooth things went over the mid-part of 2021, but we're not out of the woods.

What to think about if you have a cruise booked

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you have a cruise booked, or are thinking of booking one, I can tell you I love being onboard and would go again and again because of the blend of a fun vacation with unrivaled health protocols.

I cannot emphasize enough the high likelihood of changes to protocols, rules, and requirements.

If you plan on taking a cruise, you should be open to many changes, even just days before you sail. Royal Caribbean is doing its best to navigate all of the new recommendations and best practices, but it can come at the expense of hitting guests with a new update.

40 Perfect Day at CocoCay tips, tricks and secrets | Royal Caribbean Blog

If the idea of seeing an email a few days before you sail with a new testing requirements, or policy shift irks you, you should defer your cruise until a later date. Or even hold back all together for cruises to restart and see a semblance of regularity resume to them.

It's also equally important to keep up with the different rules and requirements. Being unaware of a change isn't going to cut it, and it's only going to lead to frustration on your part.

For some people, the opportunity to go on a cruise ship again is the most important consideration, and change is a way of life, so embracing it means getting back to the vacation they have always enjoyed in the past or want to give a try now.

Others may find the changes, uncertainty, or restrictions, simply too much for now.  In that case, postponing your trip to a later date when there is more predictability to going on a cruise may be the best course of action.

'Glad we decided to stay on this cruise' says passenger on Royal Caribbean ship this week

In:
27 Dec 2021

Denise and her family sailed on Royal Caribbean's Odyssey of the Seas this past week, and celebrated the strict protocols on the ship that limited the spread of Covid-19 to just a minute percentage of passengers.

Like all of society, cruise ships are dealing with an increase in Covid-19 cases due to the Omicron variant that spreads easier, although is far milder.

While an increase in Covid cases on land is seen largely as another chapter in the current saga of Covid, the media has taken to focusing again on cruise ships. Cruise lines have among the most stringent health protocols and report their Covid cases to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which makes reporting on new cases easy.

While the media has been busy highlighting new cases that affect a mere 1-2% of passengers, many cruise fans shared how much they are enjoying their cruise and appreciate what Royal Caribbean is trying to do during this time.

Passengers from Odyssey of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas and others shared the health protocols onboard make them feel far safer onboard than at home.

CruiseGus is onboard Allure of the Seas and despite Covid cases onboard, is happy to have taken his family on a cruise, "glad we decided to stay on this cruise."

"I'm still enjoying myself, crew are fantastic."

Denise appreciated the fact on Odyssey of the Seas the crew members were working hard to ensure things were being taken care of, "Captain was always communicating, every day. Felt well cared for and safe. Security mingling through out in addition to staff gently reinforcing proper mask wearing to make sure that protocol was followed. "

Liz007 is also on Odyssey of the Seas and shared her admiration for the Captain and crew, "The staff and captain handled it well. We all know what we are getting into sailing in these times so it was not shocking what happened. Overall, a pleasant cruise to nowhere."

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley shared on social media over the weekend that while there have been Covid cases on ships like Odyssey of the Seas, investigations by the CDC revealed mild or asymptomatic cases.

Top 10 most surprising new cruise health protocols | Royal Caribbean Blog

"All cases appear to be mild or asymptomatic. Additionally, there have been no COVID-19 related hospitalizations, medical evacuations, ventilator use, or deaths from this ship."

"This new variant rapidly transmits yet no one (vaccinated) appears to get very sick."

gomammoth22 shared the result of Royal Caribbean's new stricter mask policy has been far better mask wearing on Oasis of the Seas, "Everyone wearing masks where needed."

"I hate wearing a mask more than most, but I will not complain once on this cruise."

Jax was also on Oasis this past week and thinks Royal Caribbean is doing a good job of balancing protocols with the guest experience, "I felt completely safe and my onboard experience wasn’t impacted."

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Beyond just negative media attention, some ports in the Caribbean have denied entry to cruise ships because of the handful of passengers that are quarantined and treated for Covid. These same countries and territories have not curbed air travel at all.

The negative press has not changed BrianB's mind about going on a cruise again, "Eight cruises since September. Four on Oasis and four on Anthem. Leaving again on Friday."

Royal Caribbean will cover cost of international passenger Covid tests in January

In:
26 Dec 2021

Royal Caribbean will help with the financial burden of international visitors that need a Covid-19 test to return home.

New Adventure of the Seas sailings out of Nassau, Bahamas now available to book | Royal Caribbean Blog

Last week, the cruise line said it would stop offering complimentary Covid-19 tests for passengers that need a test to get back to their home country onboard the ship.

Instead, they would be referred to shoreside options for testing at an additional cost.

That rule was announced to go into effect beginning with sailings that depart on January 5, but Royal Caribbean has changed their mind.

If you are sailing between January 5th through January 31st, Royal Caribbean will cover the cost of this test for international guests on sailings through January 31st, 2022.

Once a passenger debarks, vendors outside the terminal will be waiting to provide either a PCR or antigen test based on your home country's testing requirement.

Guests are still able to test at other locations outside the terminal, such as at the airport or a local pharmacy - the arrangement and cost for tests outside the terminal will be the guest's expense and responsibility.

Starting on February 1st, 2022, guests who require a re-entry test to travel back home will be responsible for the cost of testing.

The cost of testing in the terminal varies by port and test, starting at $105 per antigen test and $210 per PCR test. You can also take advantage of other testing options, like airport testing or testing at a local pharmacy. The arrangement and cost of these tests are the guest's responsibility and should be paid directly to the test provider.

What Canadians need to know about cruise insurance | Royal Caribbean Blog

The new rules can be found on Royal Caribbean's website.

Countries, such as Canada, require a negative Covid-19 test in order for their citizens to return home following international travel.

Royal Caribbean had been offering such tests onboard its ships for no additional charge.

CDC investigation of Royal Caribbean cruise ship with Covid-19 cases on it reveal only mild symptoms

In:
24 Dec 2021

While Covid-19 cases on a cruise ship are never good news, the findings thus far show little concern.

Royal Caribbean's Odyssey of the Seas made headlines this week when just 1% of fully vaccinated crew members and passengers tested positive for Covid-19. 

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley shared a quote from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that indicates the cases onboard are all either mild or asymptomatic.

"The CDC is investigating the recent increase in COVID-19 cases identified on Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) Odyssey of the Seas," CDC spokesperson David Daigle told members of the media.

6 things you can only do on Odyssey of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

"All cases appear to be mild or asymptomatic. Additionally, there have been no COVID-19 related hospitalizations, medical evacuations, ventilator use, or deaths from this ship."

Mr. Bayley touted this as a positive turn of events, "Bad news Good news!"

"Thought this statement by the CDC is helpful and supports what we are seeing with the mainly crew covid positive cases."

Mr. Bayley feels the fact the cases were very mild demonstrates that while Omicron spreads easier and faster than other Covid-19 variants, its effects appear to be milder, "More and more reports are confirming what we are seeing onboard! This new variant rapidly transmits yet no one (vaccinated) appears to get very sick."

Mr. Bayley has gone on the offense in recent days with social media posts following two Royal Caribbean cruise ships reporting between 40 and 50 cases of Covid-19.

In the case of Odyssey of the Seas, she was prevented from visiting Curacao and Aruba because of the cases onboard.

Two Royal Caribbean cruise ships will begin simulated cruises today | Royal Caribbean Blog

Last week, Symphony of the Seas had just 0.78% of the passengers onboard test positive for Covid-19.

While the mainstream media jumped on the story of another cruise ship with Covid, Mr. Bayley took the time to explain yesterday why things are not nearly as bad as they may seem in certain reports.

"We are seeing increases in positivity rates with some ships currently close to 1 percent (please note Florida positivity rate is 5 percent, which is pretty good relative to others)."

Symphony of the Seas 2018 Live Blog - Cruise Preview | Royal Caribbean Blog

"Recently Symphony of the Seas was in the media spotlight with 48 positive cases (mainly guests) which was less than 1 percent of the onboard population."

"My hope is this really is the beginning of the end of this virus and what we are seeing is its morphing to fast spread and less harmful like the common cold!  (If vaccinated)."

A look at the protocols Royal Caribbean has in place to combat Omicron variant

In:
22 Dec 2021

If the news reports of Covid-19 cases on cruise ships has you spooked, now may be a good opportunity to review the extensive health protocols Royal Caribbean has for passengers and crew members aboard its ships.

Odyssey of the Seas restaurants | Royal Caribbean Blog

The omicron variant has generated a new wave of attention to Covid-19 cases around the world, and since cruise lines require passengers and crew members to test for Covid-19 on each sailing (unlike any other industry), cases get more attention since the data is easy to gather.

The good news is Royal Caribbean has strengthened its protocols onboard, on top of what it had in place since the cruise industry restarted cruises in mid-2021.

Here is a look at the important things every Royal Caribbean cruise ship is doing right now to mitigate and limit the spread of Covid-19 on its ships.

Vaccine requirement

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Royal Caribbean requires all of its passengers to be fully vaccinated if they are at least 12 years old, with the final dose administered at least 14 days before sailing.

All crew members are fully vaccinated.

Each guest's regimen must include at least two doses of vaccine unless the guest received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Royal Caribbean extends ability to cancel cruises, shortens final payment window, and extends Covid-19 assistance program | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean will not accept a Certificate of Recovery in lieu of a vaccination record card for guests of vaccine eligible age.

Children age 11 and under do not require COVID-19 vaccination to cruise, but there are additional requirements of them in testing and areas on the ship they may not go.

Stricter mask requirements

Face masks on Royal Caribbean: What you need to know | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean has required face masks to be worn on its ships since cruises restarted in 2021, but they recently altered the rules to require it in more places.

Masks are required to be worn indoors, regardless of vaccination status, unless actively eating or drinking.  This included previously designated vaccinated-only zones of the ship, such as the casino or bars.

Royal Caribbean even banned smoking in its casinos in an effort to keep masks on passengers while indoors.

Masks are allowed to be removed indoors while in your stateroom, or while outdoors.

Pre-cruise testing

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: September 5, 2021 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Every passengers, regardless of if they are vaccinated or not, needs to get a Covid-19 test done before the cruise begins.

Vaccinated guests must show a negative result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 2 days before boarding day.

Unvaccinated kids age 2 to 11 must show a negative test result for a PCR test (not antigen) taken no more than 3 days before boarding day.

In addition, unvaccinated kids get another Covid test administered on embarkation day to add an additional layer of safety.

For cruises that are 5 nights or longer, unvaccinated kids will take a complimentary antigen test onboard before the cruise ends.

Air filtration

One area of concern with an airborne virus, such as Covid-19, is how it could spread indoors.

Royal Caribbean's ships utilize 100% fresh ocean air that is continuously supplied from outside.

Intake of air occurs on one side of the ship for cooling and ventilation, then the air is removed via exhaust on the opposite side of the ship.

This continual intake of fresh air replaces the air in any space, with a total air change up to 12 times an hour in staterooms, and about 15 changes an hour in large public spaces.

Fan coil units in your stateroom and public spaces provide an extra layer of protection, continuously scrubbing the air of pathogens, using a high-grade MERV 13 filter that captures aerosols 1 to 3 microns in size with 90% efficacy — fine enough to filter cold and flu germs and coronavirus.

An independent study by the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the National Strategic Research Institute onboard Oasis of the Seas confirmed that cross-contamination of air between adjacent spaces is virtually impossible thanks to this powerful system.

Upgraded medical care

A look at Royal Caribbean's upgraded cruise ship facilities to combat COVID-19 | Royal Caribbean Blog

One big change Royal Caribbean has made with its ships since the restart is to add doctors and nurses onboard each sailing and provide them with state-of-the-art equipment onboard.

In the event of a suspected case of COVID-19, Royal Caribbean is fully prepared with immediate medical evaluations, rapid COVID-19 testing and dedicated zones for COVID-19 care, more critical care beds on each ship, and robust treatment plans.

What happens if I test positive for Covid-19 during my cruise?

Staterooms | Royal Caribbean Blog

For many people, the concern is greater about being "stuck" on a ship than the effects Covid-19 has on them.

If you test positive for COVID-19 during the cruise, Royal Caribbean will cover the costs of Covid-19 related medical treatment onboard, any required land-based quarantine, and travel home for you and any family members living with you in the same household and traveling companions assigned to your stateroom on the cruise.

Royal Caribbean has even flown passengers home that tested positive for Covid-19 via private jet.

Constantly re-evaluating protocols

Face masks not listed on Royal Caribbean's August health protocols | Royal Caribbean Blog

Without a doubt, recommendations from public health officials based on what we know about Covid-19 changes a lot. As a result, Royal Caribbean has said they are monitoring these changes and adjusting protocols as needed.

The new stricter mask rules were announced on many ships during the sailing, requiring an adjustment in protocols mid-voyage.

Royal Caribbean was uncompromising with its dedication to ensuring it has the best protocols in place when they announced the changes in an email, "We're sorry for any disappointment that this may cause, but hope you understand that health and safety come first."

CDC wants cruise lines to reconsider mask policies on cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

Changes in protocols have been a constant since cruises restarted this year, but Royal Caribbean has also given guests the greatest flexibility in changing their minds without penalty.

While airlines have rolled back policies that gave their customers the ability to cancel for any reason, Royal Caribbean retains that ability through its Cruise with Confidence program.

Guests can cancel their cruise for any reason up to 48 hours before the cruise departs and get a 100% credit to be used on a future cruise.

Royal Caribbean even pushed back final payment dates for cruises in the first 5 months of 2022 so everyone has more time to decide on what to do about their vacation.

Royal Caribbean will stop offering onboard Covid-19 tests for international passengers returning home

In:
20 Dec 2021

Royal Caribbean has updated its website to indicate it will stop offering international cruise ship passengers a Covid-19 test onboard its ships, and instead refer them to land-based test sites.

Royal Caribbean requires unvaccinated kids get a PCR test before the cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

Up until now, Royal Caribbean offered international passengers a complimentary Covid-19 test onboard its ships so that they could satisfy their home country test requirements to return.

The new policy is posted on Royal Caribbean's website that beginning January 5, 2022, optional tests for international re-entry will no longer be offered onboard.

International guests sailing on a cruise before January 5, 2022 will still be able to schedule a Covid-19 test onboard prior to debarkation day. Details on scheduling your test will be provided once onboard. 

Instead, Royal Caribbean will provide guests with testing locations at or near the cruise terminal for passengers to complete once the cruise is over. These providers are not affiliated with the cruise line, and testing costs will vary by location.

  • At the Terminal — For your convenience, you can take a rapid PCR or antigen COVID-19 test right at the terminal upon debarking the ship and depart. Results will be emailed to you shortly after. 
  • At the Airport — Guests traveling directly to the airport can schedule their rapid PCR or antigen COVID-19 test to be taken on-site with a test provider at the airport.  
  • Local Testing Sites — If you’re staying in the area, there are various locations close to the terminal, the airport and hotels in the area where you can complete PCR or antigen COVID-19 testing.  

These options will be communicated to passengers once onboard in greater detail. 

Many countries require a negative Covid-19 test in order to return home after international travel, such as Canada.

Air Canada's new Covid testing is a good option for Canadians flying to the US for cruises | Royal Caribbean Blog

Up until now, Royal Caribbean offered such tests onboard its ships for no additional charge.

In the case of Canada, travellers must have a negative COVID-19 molecular test (PCR, RT-PCR, NAAT, RT-LAMP) result. The test must be taken a maximum of 72 hours before the departure of their last direct flight to Canada.

Royal Caribbean will require passengers to wear masks indoors at all times on cruise ships due to Omicron variant

In:
17 Dec 2021

Royal Caribbean announced it has changed its mask rules aboard its cruise ships due to the surge in Covid-19 cases due to the Omicron variant.

Cruise industry supports CDC's temporary extension of cruise ship Covid-19 regulations | Royal Caribbean Blog

In an email sent to guests, for sailings departing through January 5, 2022, face masks will now be required to be worn indoors at all times, unless actively eating or drinking. This new update also applies to vaccinated areas and venues.

This policy is in place for all sailings departing before January 5, 2022, at which point it will be reevaluated.

Masks are NOT required to be worn:

  • In open-air areas of the ship, unless you are in a crowded setting.
  • In the pool or any activity where they may become wet.
  • In your stateroom when you are with your traveling party.
  • While visiting our private destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, unless you are in a crowded setting.
  • By any guest under the age of 2.

Masks ARE required to be worn:

  • While indoors in public areas of the ship, unless seated and actively eating or drinking.
  • While visiting public ports of call, where local regulations may require them.

Royal Caribbean says they consulted with their Chief Medical Officer, public health experts and governments to come to this change.

Royal Caribbean will notify guests booked on these sailings

Guests booked on these sailings are being reached out to and made aware of the change. 

The cruise line apologized for having to make this change, "We're sorry for any disappointment this may cause, but hope you understand that health and safety come first. Despite the new requirement, we know you will still have a great time onboard."

Prior to this change, vaccinated guests were able to remove their masks in certain indoor areas of the ship designated for fully vaccinated passengers, such as the casino, and certain bars and lounges.

In addition to Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line also changed their mask policy.

NCL informed guests sailing that masks will be required indoors on its ships when not actively eating or drinking.

In an email sent to passengers, NCL said, "We are asking guests to wear masks onboard while indoors, except when actively eating or drinking or when in their stateroom; wear masks outdoors when social distancing is not possible; and adhere to local regulations when visiting ports of call."

Norwegian Cruise Line CEO says July cruises from U.S. "not possible" | Royal Caribbean Blog

The uptick in Covid cases is not just a cruise ship problem.

The NFL announced today three Week 15 games have been postponed due to COVID-19 surge.

The NBA and NHL both announced postponements as well.

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