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Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - Unconfirmed cruise ship rumors that get repeated a lot by cruisers

03 Feb 2021

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Having seen so many of these discussions on social media, there seems to be a few of these "predictions" that are passed around as the truth. Here is a list of some commonly shared cruise ship rumors that have not been verified or announced by Royal Caribbean.

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CDC will require everyone to wear face masks on cruise ships

30 Jan 2021

When cruises restart, passengers onboard will have to wear a mask.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) passed a new order that requires people to wear masks on public transportation.

"Persons must wear masks over the mouth and nose when traveling on conveyances into and within the United States. Persons must also wear masks at transportation hubs as defined in this Order."

The order pertains to forms of travel including aircraft, train, road vehicle, vessel or other means of transport.

The order goes into effect as of February 1, 2021.

It applies within any state, locality, territory, with the exceptions of while eating, drinking, or taking medication, for brief periods.

Children under 2 years old are exempt, as well as a person with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, because of the disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Cruise lines must provide adequate notice of the rule and disembarking any person who refuses to comply. Moreover, guests should be made aware that Federal law requires wearing a mask on the conveyance and failure to comply constitutes a violation of Federal law.

The new rules require what the cruise lines have already agreed to do on their own.

The Healthy Sail Panel proposed passengers and crew members wear face masks on cruise ships back in September 2020.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean new cruise ship health protocols include masks, social distancing, testing and more

Royal Caribbean specified in its rules face masks will be required on its cruise ships when they return to service, with exceptions similar to what the CDC outlined.

Specifically, Royal Caribbean says guests should wear face masks in nearly all public settings regardless of physical distancing measures but will not be required to wear face masks in their own stateroom.

There are exceptions, however, such as dining venues, where guests can eat and drink without face masks while seated, provided physical distancing is observed. All restaurant seating will be arranged to allow for physical distancing, so guests can eat and drink without face masks while seated, and tables and chairs will be disinfected.

Read moreWhere and when will you have to wear a mask on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Also, guests should not wear masks while engaged in activities that may cause the mask to become wet, like when swimming in our pools, or when participating in strenuous activities, such as jogging, running, or fitness classes at the Vitality Spa and Fitness Center.

Face masks will be required at all bars or nightclubs when not seated and actively eating or drinking with your party. 

Crew members will wear masks at all times, and gloves.

It is unclear yet if Royal Caribbean will change any of these protocols based on this new order.

The rationale for the new rule is aimed at ensuring people in close contact are not putting the public health at risk.

"Traveling on multi-person conveyances increases a person’s risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 by bringing persons in close contact with others, often for prolonged periods, and exposing them to frequently touched surfaces.

"Air travel often requires spending time in security lines and crowded airport terminals. Social distancing may be difficult if not impossible on flights. People may not be able to distance themselves by the recommended 6 feet from individuals seated nearby or those standing in or passing through the aircraft’s aisles."

Read more5 ways cruise ships have tougher COVID-19 protocols than airplanes

"Travel by bus, train, vessel, and other conveyances used for international, interstate, or intrastate transportation pose similar challenges."

The CDC believes using masks along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched
surfaces, is one of the most effective strategies available for reducing COVID-19 transmission.

More information

Canada will require tourists to quarantine in hotels in order to discourage international travel

29 Jan 2021

While it remains unclear what will happen with Alaska cruises in 2021, it looks like Canada is not yet moving in a direction friendly to cruises.

The Canadian government has added a mandate for travelers entering the country to quarantine at a hotel at their own expense.

The Canadian government is looking to discourage international travel by adding these tougher rules. By requiring isolation in a hotel instead of a house, it would mean an added expense for travelers to incur.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement on Friday.

"Travelers will then have to wait for up to three days at an approved hotel for their test results, at their own expense, which is expected to be more than $2000," Trudeau said.

"Those with negative test results will then be able to quarantine at home under significantly increased surveillance and enforcement."

The cost includes the hotel stay, as well as a private PCR test, security, food and the cost of measures the designated hotels will have to take to keep their workers safe.

Read moreWill there be any Alaska cruises in 2021?

Canada's new rule mirrors Australia's rule, which requires most travelers to quarantine at a government-arranged hotel for 14 days for $2,800 AUD per adult and $4,620 AUD for a family of four.

The U.K. also introduced a similar rule earlier this week to require citizens arriving from dozens of high-risk countries to quarantine in hotels for 10 days at their own expense.

Since March, Canada has banned non-essential travel into the country by anyone that is not a citizen, as well as banning cruise ships from its waters until at least February 28, 2021.

There is already a rule that requires those entering Canada to self-isolate for 14 days and to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days before arrival. 

Rules like this, as well as the ban on cruise ships, makes operating cruise ships to Alaska or New England effectively impossible because U.S. cabotage laws require foreign-flagged vessels leaving from a U.S. port of call to first call on a "distant foreign port" before returning to the United States.

Read moreComparing the Royal Caribbean ships sailing in Alaska 2021

Along with the No Sail order in the United States, Royal Caribbean was unable to offer cruises to Alaska in 2020, but a ban from Canada would prevent any Alaska cruises from operating.

Those who do not comply with the prohibition could be subject to penalties: $5,000 per day for individuals and $25,000 per day for corporations.

Port Canaveral predicts cruises could restart in July

28 Jan 2021

Everyone is trying to get an idea of when cruises might restart by "reading between the lines", so perhaps Port Canaveral's commissioner meeting could shed some light on the subject.

Port Canaveral holds public meetings to discuss the port's business operations and plan its budget accordingly.  Ordinarily, this is pretty mundane information to digest, but it includes some speculation on when it can expect more revenue in the form of cruise ships returning.

According to Port Canaveral officials, they seem to think some cruises might return in July.

At a meeting on Wednesday, Port Canaveral CEO Captain John Murray said he believes by July, the Covid-19 vaccine will be widely distributed and the industry could get restarted.

Captain Murray explained, "The issue with July is, we’ve been doing this now for a year and you can take a very practical look at how things are happening.”

"We have a new administration. The cruise lines themselves have kicked everything down the road for three months already, or at least through March and April. The reality given the pandemic right now, until those numbers start coming down, we just don’t see that this industry is going to get any attention that it needs to get restarted."

Port Canaveral's projection is based on what officials now foresee as a worst case scenario.  Under this worst case scenario they are estimating cruise lines will each have at least one ship sailing by July even though current data suggest ships will sail before that.

The revised dates were arrived at independently and are not based on any cruise line statements.

He also seems to think the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has no interest in working with the cruise lines until the health situation in this country improves, "The CDC’s motivation right now to put the cruise lines back on the water is not there, and probably won’t be there for the next three months."

"So rather than look at this entire operation and say, ‘Well, let’s just kick the can to April and then we’ll look at it again,’ it doesn’t make any sense to keep coming back to you guys with a rosy picture that we’re going to start in April or May and then say, ‘Whoop, that didn’t happen.’ So we took the very hard approach of, like I say, ripping off the Band-Aid, and making it a bad situation for the port just to show you that we have a plan to get through this if it does go as far as the fourth quarter."

Officials at the meeting said the most likely scenario is the initial restart phase will have one cruise ship per cruise line, and each ship will operate at half capacity.

Port Canaveral Chief Financial Officer Michael Poole is projecting $32.59 million in operating revenue and a $43.12 million loss for the port in the current budget year that ends September 30.

"We just want to put something in front of you that can show you as a board that we’re going to be OK to get through this even if it doesn’t start before July, and I’m hopeful and optimistic and all that good stuff that we do get started before then."

Royal Caribbean, and the entire cruise industry, has been shutdown from U.S. ports since March 2020.  With the exception of Quantum of the Seas in Singapore, no ships have been able to restart in its fleet since then.

In order to be able to restart, cruise lines need to get their new health protocols onboard approved.  This will be done in conjunction with test cruises that will demonstrate the viability of the cruise line plans.

Once a ship is approved for service by the CDC, then a cruise line can resume regular passenger service.

While Royal Caribbean has not announced any firm restart plan, many believe cruises will start back up again first from ports like Port Canaveral or PortMiami.

Wall Street: Cruises wont restart until late 2021 or early 2022

22 Jan 2021

If you are looking for a "glass is half empty prediction" on when cruises might restart, here is a doozy.

One Wall Street analyst shared his thoughts on the likelihood of cruises restarting and it is not a good outlook for cruise fans.

Truist Securities analyst Patrick Scholes wrote in a note that cruises likely will not resume from U.S. ports until the second half of 2021 under the best of circumstances, and possibly not until early 2022.

Mr. Scholes wrote the note on Friday indicating a changing look at the prospects of cruises restarting, "The sentiment for 2021 has now changed to ‘It’s possible 2021 will not be a return to (revenue) sailings in North America, or at least not before'".

He added that while cruise bookings are exceeding cancellations, “we now see July as the best case for restart,” though the fourth quarter is more likely.

"Consensus expectations are for a return to revenue sailings in 2Q21 with [an] acceleration into 3Q21, which we do not see as realistic," Scholes wrote, adding that the stocks have "so far shrugged off unabated delays in restarting."

Royal Caribbean recently cancelled March and April cruises for nearly all of its sailings, and Norwegian and Carnival have both matched as well.

Cruise industry insider Stewart Chiron recently took to Twitter with his own predictions based on the recently announced cancellations.

"Several cruise lines will be announcing further cancelations of all April sailings. May sailings, at this point, are probably toast as well," Chiron stated in his tweet. "Test sailings of 3-5 nights will occur. All 7-night sailings, heading into summer are tentative at best right now."

The single biggest question is when cruise lines might be able to get started with testing out their new procedures.

Carnival recently tip-toed around the idea that the CDC is holding up the cruise lines from moving forward with restart plans.

Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald said Carnival is in phase one of the Conditional Sail Order, and said, "additional guidelines for future phases have not yet been issued by CDC."

Mr. Scholes wrote in his note, "there is concern amongst travel executives who believe that the recent CDC phased return to cruise is really a de facto no-sail order."

Read moreTop 14 things the CDC requires cruise ships do on test sailings

"The concern is that the CDC’s hurdles are so high that it will make it extremely difficult for the cruise lines to sail with paid customers."

The good news is demand remains strong in the form of bookings, and he expects the pent-up demand for travel to boost cruises whenever they have the opportunity to restart.

British cruise line will require everyone to get a COVID-19 vaccine

20 Jan 2021

The first cruise line to announce it will require its guests to get a COVID-19 vaccine is Saga Cruises.

The British cruise line announced it will require that all guests must be fully vaccinated in order to sail.

Specifically, Saga said guests must have received their full two doses of the COVID‑19 vaccination at least 14 days before going on the cruise.

A spokesperson added: "We have taken the decision to require everyone traveling with us to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Our customers want the reassurance of the vaccine and to know others traveling with them will be vaccinated too."

The topic of if cruise lines will require guests to be vaccinated has been a hotly debated topic, and a question of "will they or wont they."

Saga Cruises exclusively markets to and operates for people aged 50 and over, making it appeal to a demographic that is more at risk to the effects of COVID-19.

The plan for Saga is to begin with hotel stays, river cruises and escorted tours in May, and then launch ocean cruises in early June.

Read moreCDC will require Covid-19 test for all international flights to the US

Pre-cruise COVID-19 testing will be conducted in the terminal, as well as doubling the medical staff and social distancing on its ships.

What about Royal Caribbean?

Of course, a small cruise line in the UK is not necessarily an indication of what Royal Caribbean may or may not do.

Last week, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain indicated they are looking into the role a vaccine will play in the cruise line's plans.

Ultimately, Royal Caribbean will rely on the guidance of the Healthy Sail Panel of health experts to guide the cruise line in if they should require the vaccine or not of its guests.

"Exactly how are we going to require it? Are we going to just use it as an adjunct? I think all of that is going to come out reasonably soon."

Mr. Fain's response put the decision on if requiring the vaccine is a good idea on the panel of experts so that the cruise line can make the best decision based on the panel's guidance.

"We have the experts and we'll let them guide us."

CDC will require Covid-19 test for all international flights to the US

19 Jan 2021

The airline industry will begin to feel the first major impact of a new rule by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with new testing requirements.

The CDC announced beginning on January 26, all passengers that are two years old and older must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to enter the United States.

Specifically, flyers must take a nasal or PCR test within three days before the flight departs for the U.S.

The written results (written or electronic) of the test must be provided to the airline in order to be able to board the plane. The CDC added documentation of having recovered from Covid-19 is allowed.

If you have a connecting flight, a test taken no more than three days before your flight departs is acceptable as long as it is booked under a single passenger record. Layovers between flights cannot exceed 24 hours.

If your connecting flight to the US was booked separately or you have a longer connection, you need to get tested within the three days before your final flight departs for the US.

If you are flying out of the country for less than three days, you can take a test in the U.S. before you depart and use it for your return or take a rapid test before your return flight.

If a passenger does not provide documentation or chooses not to take a test, the CDC has advised that airlines must deny boarding.

The rule applies to U.S. residents and tourists alike.

This is the first time the airline industry has had to deal with any kind of testing requirements. Cruise lines committed on their own to 100% testing of all passengers back in October 2020 without the CDC needing to mandate it.

Read more5 ways cruise ships have tougher COVID-19 protocols than airplanes

CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield commented on the importance of testing as a major tool, "Testing does not eliminate all risk, but when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations."

We asked our readers when they think cruises will restart

14 Jan 2021

Royal Caribbean just delayed their reopening again, and it is not clear yet when cruises might restart.

Big questions remain about when exactly Royal Caribbean will be able to restart cruises in the United States or Europe. While no one knows the answer, I wanted to know what cruise fans thought about the chances of cruises restarting.

Spoiler alert, the opinions were far from unanimous.

There are some good signs out there to keep an eye on for when cruises might restart, but the entire situation is constantly changing, with optimism one day and dejection the next. The cruise line has been tight lipped about the day-to-day changes in terms of cruises being able to restart as well.

So I asked RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers on Facebook when they think will the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship from USA or Europe sail with paying passengers?

After a few days, almost 900 responses to our poll, and the results were quite mixed - 290 said sometime in 2022, 266 said July 2021, 139 said May 2021, 50 said September 2021, 42 said October 2021, 29 said April 2021, and then the results fell off from there.

The majority felt there was a chance of cruises for summer 2021 (July) or already feel 2021 is a lost cause and voted for 2022.

Plenty of pessimism

After a year of of no cruises, there was plenty of people who are starting to see things as "the glass is half empty" when it comes to cruises restarting.

While cruise cancellations are nothing new, every round of cancellations seems to instill concern among cruisers that more bad news is yet to come.

In addition, the current surge in the global health crisis around the world has some worried that the case for cruises to restart in the current climate is simply impossible.

Some voting with their heart

Based on the comments from the poll, it seems a lot of people may have also voted based on when their cruise is scheduled and hoping for the best.

Eddie Vilkins, "I’m only hoping for July because that’s my booking."

Tyler Diedrich, "I am guessing Mariner in May. Just because I have a killer deal on a suite on this sailing!"

Jennifer Melchior, "July 2021 cause we have a cruise scheduled for that month!"

Brenda Hunt voted for July because she thinks things could improve rapidly by then, "I am hopeful by July. This way all those that want to be vaccinated will most likely will be by then. In the meantime, they can create a plan for what to do for those those that can’t or won’t get vaccinated."

The poll was an interesting look in the different opinions people have for when they expect Royal Caribbean cruises to restart. It is understandable why the answers were so widespread because no one really has solid information on when cruise ships might be able to sail again.

As always, I will keep an eye out for new updates related to cruises being able to restart.

Carnival says CDC is slowing down test cruises from starting

13 Jan 2021

Is the reason we have not heard about test cruises yet because the CDC is slowing things down?

The question every cruiser's mind for months has been when test cruises might begin, and many have openly wondered if the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is hindering the chance of cruises moving towards restarting.

In late October, the CDC issued the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order that said any cruise line that wants to restart from the United States needs to apply for a conditional sailing certificate 60 days before a voyage. But before that happens, they need to run test sailings with volunteers — and must provide written notice 30 days in advance.

The CDC told the Washington Post last week, "no cruise line had applied for a certificate yet."


Carnival Corporation held a call with investors on Monday to discuss its fourth quarter 2020 financial results, and Robin Farley from UBS asked about timing for these test cruises.

Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald said Carnival is in phase one of the Conditional Sail Order, and said, "additional guidelines for future phases have not yet been issued by CDC."

Ms. Farley followed up by asking Mr. Donald if in fact Carnival cannot move forward until it receives additional information.

Farley: "So it sounds like you're waiting specifically for the CDC to issue some specific guidance around the test cruise timing."

Donald: "To answer your question about specific timing on test cruise, yes, we would be waiting."

Mr. Donald added that Carnival is doing other things in the meantime to position itself to hit the ground running when they can begin test cruises, such as bringing ships back to the United States and meeting criteria laid out for those ships.

"But to give you a specific timing on the test cruises, we would need additional guidance from CDC."

The confirmation from Carnival that almost three months after the CDC issued its Conditional Sail Order the set of instructions on what cruise lines need to do to demonstrate they can sail safely again is proving many cruise fans worst fears: the Conditional Sail Order is just another name for the No Sail Order.

Since the No Sail Order was replaced by the Conditional Sail Order, Royal Caribbean has cancelled sailings three times, with the announcement yesterday it would cancel March and April cruises.

Seeing new rounds of cancellations is not unexpected by the cruise world, but the lack of progress in seeing any hint that test cruises (and subsequently real cruises) are getting closer to restarting is a major source of frustration for cruise fans.

Read moreTop 14 things the CDC requires cruise ships do on test sailings

Before cruise ships can sail again from the United States, the ships need to conduct simulated sailings to prove the new health protocols can work.

One of the major steps involved in demonstrating the new rules and regulations can work safely is to operate a series of test sailings where volunteers are used on select cruise ships in order to practice all of the new tasks.

All volunteer passengers and crew members must follow testing protocols, which include rapid testing prior to both embarkation and disembarkation.

Simulated sailings will need to meet CDC expectations for certification, which includes passengers wearing masks, wash and sanitize hands, and practice social distancing. 

Read moreEverything you need to know about Royal Caribbean test cruises

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Chris Reardon felt the delay by the CDC is still based on events that took place months ago, "I think that many of the decisions from the CDC are from individuals who have rarely or never cruised. Their bias is based on what happened over a year ago on a couple of ships."

Don Goldstein said, "It is hard to know who to blame considering the lack of communication from either Royal Caribbean Group(RCG) or CDC. If CDC is putting up roadblocks, it would be counterproductive for RCG to publicly complain, and of course CDC would not admit to those roadblocks. In other words, we don't know what we don't know."

Still, cruise fans are not blind to the realities of the world and the fact the global health crisis has gotten worse. Brian Carty added, "I blame neither the CDC or the cruiselines. I blame the virus and its current behavior as shown here. If test cruises had started when the “No Sail” order had been lifted and before this happened, we might be in a different place now."

Royal Caribbean Group CEO says decision will be made if covid vaccine will be mandatory to cruise

12 Jan 2021

Of all the new health protocols and changes, perhaps no single rule is as hotly debated right now as if cruise lines will require a Covid vaccine in order to be allowed to sail.

The vaccine is being distributed around the United States and in many other countries in the world, and many people want to know if the vaccine will be mandatory in order to go on a cruise.

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain was asked that very question during an interview with Porthole Cruise Magazine.

Mr. Fain indicated that the decision of if a vaccine will or will not be required will be decided on by the Healthy Sail Panel of health experts that Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH)  created, "The purpose of the panel is to advise us on things like that."

"Exactly how are we going to require it? Are we going to just use it as an adjunct? I think all of that is going to come out reasonably soon."

Mr. Fain's response put the decision on if requiring the vaccine is a good idea on the panel of experts so that the cruise line can make the best decision based on the panel's guidance.

"We have the experts and we'll let them guide us."

Royal Caribbean's answer echos what NCLH CEO Frank Del Rio said last month, when he indicated his company is exploring the possibility of requiring a vaccine.

It will certainly be a requirement for the crew," Del Rio told John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Group, one of the largest organizations of travel advisors.

Mr. Del Rio also indicated there is a legal aspect to requiring it, along with the science behind if it makes sense to institute as a policy.

Booking trends remain good

Despite the nearly year-long shutdown, people are still interested in booking new cruises.

Mr. Fain attributed the booking trends to the notion of pent-up demand for vacations, "I think people are so tired...I think there's a huge pent up demand."

The example Royal Caribbean has seen was cruises resuming in Singapore, where demand to book a cruise has been very strong.

"I think there's a lot of pent up demand and I think people were really ready to get out and get on with their lives."

Not surprisingly, early cruises back may have a lot more veteran cruisers, rather than new cruisers.

"Obviously the early cruises are going to be more experienced cruisers than in the past."

"But we still in the long term need to continue to grow the market. Our industry is growing. And so I think we will continue to market to first time cruisers."

Mr. Fain said he was surprised how many first time cruisers in Singapore have booked cruises on Quantum of the Seas, "I think a lot of people say, wow, this is this is actually a great thing."

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