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Crew Members

Royal Caribbean CEO warns crew members of e-mail scam

In:
Category: 
19Oct2020

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley took to social media on Monday to warn crew members not to fall for an email scam going around that targets private information.

Mr. Bayley posted on Facebook the warning that scammers are trying to get crew members to fill out information in order to get crew member's personal information.

Furthermore, Mr. Bayley emphasized crew not to click the links, and that all information will be shared via the Royal Caribbean employee portal.

"We will never ask you for your personal information via e-mail," he warned.

The scam email even went to the length of copying Royal Caribbean email letterhead and Mr. Bayley's email signature in order to convince employees it is legitimate.

Phishing scams not uncommon

Unfortunately, scammers using emails that look like the real thing are an all-too-common hack that works equally as well as it is prevalent.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that people lost $57 million to phishing schemes in one year.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says the scammers are trying to steal someone's passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers.

Phishing emails like this one are designed to look like they are from a company you know or trust.

Carnival hit hard by similar hack

While this scam seems to target personal information, Carnival Cruise Lines was recently the victim of a similar attack, where ransomware ended up stealing personal information about the cruise company’s guests and employees.

The attack accessed an encrypted portion of technology systems for one of the cruise line's brands and certain data files were downloaded, the company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

While Carnival did not divulge how the hackers were able to install the ransomware, quite often legitimate looking emails targeted to employees are the preferred vector of attack.

7 hints & updates from Royal Caribbean on what's next

In:
14Oct2020

Six Royal Caribbean executives answered questions from travel agents during a webinar on Wednesday that touched upon a number of changes, initiatives and plans for the future.

The potpourri of questions were on the topics of new ports, crew members, cruises restating and so much more, which provided some insight into questions many cruise fans have had for a while.

Some of these answers were hints, and others gave good indications of what to expect.

When will the 2022-2023 cruises be released?

Many cruise fans want to know when the new set of itineraries will be released for 2022 and 2023.

Royal Caribbean Director of Revenue Strategy, Brittany Briggs, said that typically new itineraries are released in November and December, and others in the spring.

"I don't expect that will be too much from that this year. So I would stay on the lookout for something and some communications next month on our opening."

When will the new cruise terminal in Galveston open?

We all know that the new cruise terminal in Galveston, Texas that will be able to accommodate an Oasis Class size cruise ship is delayed by a year, but is the terminal still on track for completion?

 Josh Carroll, Royal Caribbean's Vice President, Port Development, confirmed it will be opening in 2022.

"We were on target to have that terminal up and running in 2021, due to COVID that has been delayed and will now be opening the following year in 2022. So we're very excited to bring Oasis class to Galveston and that's on track."

When will Royal Caribbean cruise on the west coast of the United States?

Perhaps the longest running constant question among cruise fans is when will Royal Caribbean return to the west coast for cruises.

The exact question posed was about cruise ships visiting ports in Western Mexico, but the answer gave us a glimmer of hope that we might be closer to cruises returning to the west coast than we might have thought.

Mr. Carroll said the growth of cruises in Alaska will offer Royal Caribbean the opportunity to sail from the West Coast when the Alaska cruise season is complete, and it sounds like sooner than we think.

'We are always evaluating different homeport options, as you can see, we're growing dramatically in Alaska, which in Alaska is only a summer product. So we're looking at a number of different options for the winter."

"And we think that pretty soon we may have something exciting to announce."

Will Royal Caribbean add any new ports to visit in the Caribbean?

Many cruise fans are eager for new ports of call to visit to help spice up the choices, and it sounds like more itineraries are on the horizon.

Mr. Carroll said more ports are coming, including stops at Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic as part of the 2022-2023 deployment schedule for Oasis Class ships.

"You'll also see us start going to places more that we don't necessarily visit often today as we partner with those government and port operators to expand the infrastructure and guest experience capabilities,"  Mr. Carroll explained.

"I saw a question come through, for example, on Grand Turk, and we are looking in the Turks and Caicos and have some some opportunities there as well to be able to add those to our itineraries."

Will the Future Cruise Credit expiration dates be extended?

As of June 30, 2020, Royal Caribbean Group reported they had approximately $1.8 billion in customer deposits, which means there is a lot of future cruise credits floating around.

Every future cruise credit has an expiration date associated with it, and the question was asked if those FCCs would be extended.

Ms. Briggs said there are no plans right now to extend FCCs, "At this time we don't have any intention of extending the global suspension or Cruise with Confidence FCCs."

"However, any other FCC that's not related to those that have either already expired or they are expected to expire by the end of this year, we are extending those through March 31st of 2021."

"So you can book by March 31st 2021 for any sailing that is open through April of 2022."

How long to train returning crew members for cruises to restart?

With regards to cruises restarting, how long will it take to train crew members so that they can get up to speed on the new regulations and policies.

Mark Tamis, Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President, Hotel Operations, said there are already crew members in the training phase, especially as it relates to cruises from Singapore on Quantum of the Seas.

Mr. Tamis explained how the digital training works, "We really digitize a lot of our training. So the crew, whether they're at home or on the ship in their own time, can get the training on their own handheld device."

"We have all these training modules that are being delivered to our crew right now. So they're already getting up to speed about how they'll be bringing to life all the new protocols."

What was the original name of Perfect Day at CocoCay?

This was not asked specifically, but Mr. Tamis mentioned while answering a call about the success of Perfect Day at CocoCay that the island makeover had a very different name.

"I joined the brand maybe a week after Michael [Bayley] did when he moved over from Celebrity, I think the first conversation we had was about, and this is inside baseball information, was originally called Adventure World."

Could crew members returning be a sign Royal Caribbean is serious about cruises restarting?

In:
10Oct2020

If cruise fans are looking for an indication that cruises might be resuming, the return of crew members is a good sign.

With Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines hinting at the possibility of cruises restarting before the end of the year, crew rehirings could be a sign of what is coming next.

CNBC's Seema Mody reported cruise operators are in the process of "bringing back a lot of their crew that were sent overseas" so that there is staff available to set sail if the CDC allows cruise lines to resume sailings.

All over social media, there have been postings by crew members that they are hearing from colleagues of being hired back, or even evidence they have been rehired. As with any social media posts, it is important take these claims with a grain of salt, but every day there seems to be more evidence of crew reporting they are going back.

One such post provided detailed instructions for other crew members on what to expect when they report back for duty, and the many quarantine and testing procedures they will need to follow.

In addition, crew hiring opportunities are even popping up online that could possibly indicate that the cruise line is serious restart plans.

Royal Caribbean does not usually announce crew movements or hirings, but there seems to be a lot of ancillary evidence that a general strategy is in place.

The game plan for cruises to restart

Royal Caribbean has been very transparent about how it sees cruises restarting in the United States.

The basic plan is to have a few test cruises that involve crew members and Royal Caribbean employees only that can simulate a real cruise in order to gauge the effectiveness of all their new policies.

Following those test sailings, short cruises to a private destination only would be offered. If all goes well, Royal Caribbean could then start adding back longer sailings.

This game plan follows the recommendations of the Healthy Sail Panel, as well as what cruise line executives have said over the last few weeks.

As it relates to hiring back crew, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said recently that they will need crew back in order to start up the test sailings.

"We propose to start slowly by training our crew and embarking on a series of non-revenue test sailings, where we can rehearse and we can validate the new protocols."

Royal Caribbean's cruise ships are currently at minimum manning, so in order for any test sailings to occur, they need crew back to simulate as closely as possible real-world scenarios.

The top crew members to find if you have a problem onboard your cruise

In:
Category: 
15Aug2020

While you will likely have a great time on a cruise without running into any problems, occasionally something happens that needs attention of someone who can quickly remedy the issue.

Just like when at a resort, casino or theme park on land, cruise ship guests can sometimes run into a problem.  Rather than just chalking it up to bad luck, you can (and should) let Royal Caribbean know about the problem to get it rectified. 

You should start with the front-line crew member you have easy access to first, but if things are not moving, then it may be time to escalate.The key is knowing who to contact onboard to get things solved, so here are some important people you can reach out to during the cruise for results.

Head Waiter

When you are in the dining rooms, the woman or man who can make special requests happen is the head waiter (sometimes known as the Maître D). 

Your waiter can handle most requests, so be sure to start with him or her, but if it requires special coordination between the dining room staff, galley or even other departments, the head waiter can step in and assist.

Often the head waiter will visit your table during the meal to introduce themselves, but you can always ask your waiter to speak to the head waiter to address other issues.

Suite Concierge

If you are staying in a suite stateroom, you absolutely want to get to know the concierge early during your cruise.

It is the job of the suite concierge to make sure everything is going well, and they are the problem solver for suite guests.

Part guest relations, part dining guide, and part event coordinator, the concierge is empowered to do a lot, especially when problems arise. In a lot of cases, the concierge may have inside information on changes occurring onboard and know exactly who to reach out to about most situations.

The suite concierge will have regular hours they are available in the Suite Lounge, so be sure to stop in and say hello on the first day to not only meet them, but get a copy of their schedule.

Hotel Director

The hotel operations is a massive component to a cruise ship, and at the top of the chain is the hotel director.

A cruise ship hotel director is in charge of all aspects of the hotel-type operations, including everything related to your cabin and housekeeping.

The reason to reach out to the hotel director is for something your stateroom attendant cannot easily handle, such as mechanical issues that are not resolved quick enough or even issues with other guests.

While you want to start off with your stateroom attendant for nearly every issue, if a problem lingers or the resolution is not up to your liking, be sure to reach out to the hotel director.

You can always call down to Guest Services to get the extension of the hotel director and quickly get in touch with him or her.

Cruise Director

You might wonder why you would need to get a hold of the cruise director, but if you are anything like me, you do not want to miss out on any of the fun activities onboard.

The Cruise Director manages the activity and sports staff onboard, and she or he are the person that can answer questions about scheduling, as well as who to talk to about special requests.

With so many things to do on a cruise, it is easy to miss out on something. It is a good idea to speak to the cruise director if an activity is not running well, or if you want to inquire about an event you had on another cruise.  Heck, if your group wants a space to do an activity, the cruise director may be able to assist in getting space for you.

Guest Services

When in doubt, the catch-all is to contact Guest Services for any issues you run into.

You would be surprised how many issues Guest Services can directly assist with, but if they cannot, they will put you in contact with someone who can.

Do not hesitate to reach out, even just to ask if what you are seeing is a problem or not. Don't be shy that you are asking a "dumb question" or are being a bother. They are there to help, and odds are they have seen it all by this point.

Guest Services is your go-to call during late or early hours, when other crew members may otherwise be unavailable.

Don't forget your travel agent

If you think the job of a travel agent ends once you get on the cruise ship, you are very mistaken.

Travel agents can be a great resource while you are on a cruise to answer questions, especially if you are seeing a discrepency between what you expect and what the crew onboard are telling you.

Missing onboard credits, stateroom assignment information, gratuities and more are problems your travel agent can address with the shoreside team while you enjoy your cruise.

A quick email to your travel agent to clarify something is a great tool to keep in your back pocket if the need arises.

Royal Caribbean have repatriated 95% of its crew members

In:
Category: 
01Jul2020

Royal Caribbean has been diligently working on getting its crew members home, and reported on Wednesday that it has repatriated 95% of its crew members.

Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Service Vicki Freed told travel agents in her weekly webinar that among its corporate brands, Royal Caribbean has repatriated 95% of its crew members so far, and that number will climb to 97% by July 15.

"We have about 40,000 crew members from our corporate collective efforts, of which 95% have now been taken home, either via our own ships or be a chartered aircraft. By July 15th, 97% will be repatriated to their home. So no crew left behind."

"We're happy for them that they get to spend some time with family until we know that we're ready to start service again and we can bring them back and we're excited to bring them back."

In order to get crew members home, Royal Caribbean had to overcome significant legal and political hurdles countries have set up that prevent crew members on a cruise ship from returning home.

Countries around the world, including the United States, have added complex new regulations and travel restrictions meant to protect its citizens at home, while making it extremely difficult for citizens abroad to return simply because they are on a cruise ship.

Top priority

Getting crew members home has been a hot topic in the news, and Royal Caribbean made it a top priority to get its crew members home.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman Richard Fain noted in the company's first quarter results call with analysts that crew repatriation is its first priority.

"In the two months since we suspended operations, we've been working tirelessly to safely repatriate our guests and crew members to their homes," Mr. Fain elaborated,  "Our crew come from more than 100 countries around the world with widely different safety protocols and travel restrictions. This has turned, what should be a simple task into a monumental one."

"It's really hard to convey the complexity of the process to somebody who's used to making simple travel arrangements. But, our teams are working around the clock with the multitude of governing bodies to repatriate our crews as soon as possible. We've even gone to the extent of using our ships as transport vessels and currently have nine ships carry more than 10,000 crew members back to their home countries. It's a complex and expensive way to do it. But it's a most reliable way to get these men and women home to their families as quickly as possible. And therefore, we've undertaken to do it this way."

"Obviously, our industry and our Company are undergoing unprecedented challenges, and we are having to quickly adapt to this new and evolving environment. But, our priorities are clear, we will work to protect the safety of our guests and crew, we will proactively enhance our liquidity, we will protect the Company's brands and our travel partners, and we will define and prepare for a new normal."

Royal Caribbean makes repatriating crew members its top priority

In:
Category: 
13Jun2020

In the months since Royal Caribbean suspended operations, the cruise line has made protecting and repatriating its crew its top priority.

Recently, Royal Caribbean executives have specifically called out the hard work its teams around the world are doing to help get crew members home, despite daunting legal hurdles.

Crew comes first

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman Richard Fain started off his quarterly results calll with Wall Street analysts by making a point to say crew repatriation is its first priority, even ahead of the company's financial future.

"Obviously, our industry and our Company are undergoing unprecedented challenges, and we are having to quickly adapt to this new and evolving environment. But, our priorities are clear, we will work to protect the safety of our guests and crew, we will proactively enhance our liquidity, we will protect the Company's brands and our travel partners, and we will define and prepare for a new normal."

The task of getting crew home is more than simply buying a plane ticket home. Countries around the world, including the United States, have added complex new regulations and travel restrictions meant to protect its citizens at home, while making it extremely difficult for citizens abroad to return simply because they are on a cruise ship.

"In the two months since we suspended operations, we've been working tirelessly to safely repatriate our guests and crew members to their homes," Mr. Fain elaborated,  "Our crew come from more than 100 countries around the world with widely different safety protocols and travel restrictions. This has turned, what should be a simple task into a monumental one."

"It's really hard to convey the complexity of the process to somebody who's used to making simple travel arrangements. But, our teams are working around the clock with the multitude of governing bodies to repatriate our crews as soon as possible. We've even gone to the extent of using our ships as transport vessels and currently have nine ships carry more than 10,000 crew members back to their home countries. It's a complex and expensive way to do it. But it's a most reliable way to get these men and women home to their families as quickly as possible. And therefore, we've undertaken to do it this way."

Royal Caribbean International President & CEO Michael Bayley spoke at length about the work being done by the cruise line to get crew home safely, despite inaccurate media reports to the contrary.

Mr. Bayley characterized getting crew members home as, "genuinely a massive challenge," and went on to reassure the public it is doing everything it can, "We love our crew. We are doing everything in our power to take care for them, and to make sure that they get home to their families."

"We're doing everything we can to take care of our crew and get them home. The crew are pleased with what we're doing, they're thankful, they're understanding."

Getting crew home by the numbers

Saying you will do something, and actually doing it, are two different things, and Royal Caribbean has been actively getting more and more crew home each week.

Mr. Bayley shared an update on Facebook that as of Friday, 22,558 crew members have been repatriated, and Royal Caribbean has plans for another 4,041 crew to make it home next week.

"We’re working very hard for each member of our crew and we’re getting there! By the end of the month, we’re looking to have 95% of our repatriation efforts complete. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and every day it’s looking brighter."

Royal Caribbean hires back over 100 laid off workers to help with long phone hold times

In:
Category: 
27May2020

Royal Caribbean announced today it has rehired over 100 employees that were laid off in April 2020 in order to help with the significantly long phone hold times.

Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Service Vicki Freed made the announcement during a webinar with travel advisors that it was aware of very long hold times, and the cruise line decided to bring back employees to help with the issue.

"I do want you to know that we're not just talking about it, that we're doing something about it. And over the weekend, we've called back over a hundred people that we had to lay off to come back, call center people and help us in the call centers. So many of them came in on Sunday and Monday of this week. They're in training right now because there will have been more suspensions since we had our layoff and they should be up on the phones this week and next week."

"So that should help on the long hold times. And again, I sincerely apologize to our value travel partners because this is not the kind of service we want to provide you. We want to give you excellent service."

A separate email sent to a travel agent specified that Royal Caribbean hired back 130 reservation agents.

Thanks to Katina Bradley for providing this email

Royal Caribbean has experienced longer than normal wait times due to the "snowball" effect of multiple cruise cancellation announcements, that has overwhelmed call centers. Compounding the issue was the lay offs the company made last month, which reduced call capacity.

Royal Caribbean reportedly to begin sending many crew members home

In:
Category: 
04May2020

It looks like Royal Caribbean has a plan to send many of its crew members home.

The Miami Herald is reporting Royal Caribbean has a plan in place that complies with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s terms for disembarking crew. 

Letters were sent to crew members explaining the situation, and the new plan to get its international crew home.

The crux of the matter that prevented crew from getting home sooner was evidently the CDC's rules for disembarking crew that included provisions such as requiring crew go home via chartered or private transportation.

In the letter from Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley to crew, it explains the legal entanglement that is created by sending crew home now, "The CDC will only allow us to disembark crew members if company executives, myself included, are willing to attest — subject to criminal penalties including imprisonment — that we will not use any public transportation and that each crew member will comply with certain conditions after disembarking the ships. We are happy to do all the things they requested, but the criminal penalties gave us [and our lawyers] pause."

While Bayley said he hopes the threat of criminal prosecution will be removed, he said, “we have decided that the importance of getting you home is so great that we will sign these documents as they are written today to help get you off the ships.”

Cruise Industry News outlined the plan that involved getting crew home to 60 different countries, involving various ships in the fleet "busing" crew members home based on their country of origin.

The efforts include ships such as Anthem of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Vision of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas.

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.

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