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Cruises Resuming

Royal Caribbean's UK boss talks about plans to restart cruises

In:
30Nov2020

Royal Caribbean's vice president EMEA, Ben Bouldin, spoke to cruise fans during an online webinar about what Royal Caribbean is thinking in regards to cruises starting up again.

Mr. Bouldin answered questions during a CruiseCritic webinar about how Royal Caribbean will approach their return to service, and what is happening right now to get closer to cruises resuming.

Today's talk with Mr. Bouldin provided an updated look at the latest changes and news.

Extensive test sailings

One of the first topics tackled was test cruises, and what to expect from them.

Royal Caribbean received a tremendous amount of interest from the public to be a volunteer on test cruises, and the question remains what to expect from these test sailings.

Mr. Bouldin believes the test sailings will be "critical" to preparing the fleet to start again safely.

The exact specifics of these test sailings still need to be defined fully, "We might need some volunteers in some markets to do so and we'll see how that goes. But the team are planning what those tests eventually look like."

The opportunity to sign up for test cruises is limited to Americans currently, but European test sailings will also need to occur and volunteers could be a part of that too.

"There will definitely be trial cruises on the ship sailing out of Europe, so we've had that confirmed."

"What form those are going to take was still working on, but there will definitely be some trial cruises and whether or not we open those up to the public and still to be defined."

"But I suspect we may well need the help of some of our very loyal, Crown and Anchor guests to come and help put some of the ships and the crews through their paces."

First cruise back on Quantum

On the topic of test cruises, Royal Caribbean just wrapped up its first test sailing with Quantum of the Seas right before she will start sailing again tomorrow.

Mr. Bouldin noted Quantum completed its first test sailing in Singapore with "friends and family" onboard.

"We've worked very closely with the Singapore authorities to produce a program that's fit for purpose and helps us return to service safely. And we're delighted to get that back up and running tomorrow."

"I'm sure we're going to learn so much about our future plans on the basis of how these sailing's developed evolve."

Of course, these cruises on Quantum have been designed with safety of crew and passengers in conjunction with the Singaporean government.

"There are so many different protocols, many different aspects from hygiene and cleaning crew to how we serve in restaurants and buffets, how we socially distance and theaters."

"All of these things have to be thought through practiced and implemented ahead of guests coming on board."

Technology will be critical

When cruises restart, technology will play its most significant role yet on cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean has always invested in new ways to leverage tech, such as facial recognition and a new app, but more changes are coming.

Mr. Bouldin noted that the cruise line wants to create contactless environments around the ship, such as how people can order drinks from their phone or open their stateroom doors.

"That's all going to evolve and continue to evolve. So planning your trip and having everything in the palm of your hand is critical."

One of the signature new features coming to the Royal Caribbean app is Muster 2.0, which makes the muster drill a self-service and easier experience.

Buffet is not going away

And for anyone still concerned, the Windjammer buffet is not going anywhere.

There was concern earlier this year that the buffet might be going away, but Mr. Bouldin echoed follow up comments from Royal Caribbean that there will still be a buffet, albeit with some changes.

"The buffet is staying. The Windjammer Cafe is one of the most loved and best loved features of our product and is genuinely adored by our fans all over the world."

"In the short term, we may have to look at some changes around how food is served, but ultimately that restaurant and the brand has no intention of getting rid of the buffet that everyone loves."

First Royal Caribbean cruise in 9 months will sail tomorrow

In:
30Nov2020

Nine months after Royal Caribbean shut down its cruises due to the global health crisis, its first cruise ship will offer a revenue cruise tomorrow.

Quantum of the Seas will sail from Singapore on December 1, and begin offering 3- and 4-night cruises to only residents of Singapore with no port stops.

Royal Caribbean shut down all cruises beginning on March 14, 2020 and has not offered another cruise since. Quantum of the Seas will be the first to offer paid cruises since March.

New photos just added from the first Quantum of the Seas sailing!

The first sailing on Quantum of the Seas on December 1 is capped at about 1,000 guests.

A variety of comprehensive new health protocols will be implemented onboard Quantum of the Seas including:

  • Testing and screening
  • Upgraded Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems that enhance filtration
  • Stringent cleaning practices
  • Reduced capacities for greater physical distancing
  • Expert medical care and onboard facilities

Read moreHere's what Royal Caribbean will require guests to do for first cruises back in Singapore

Initially, Quantum of the Seas cruises will be: 

  • Round-trips with no ports of call
  • Sailing at a reduced capacity of up to 50 percent
  • Only open to Singapore residents

Quantum of th eSeas will spend the next four months sailing from Singapore and offer these short cruises.

Prior to the official sailing, Royal Caribbean has been preparing for these cruises. Nick Weir, Senior Vice President of Entertainment for Royal Caribbean International, shared photos of the production show cast rehearsing.

It appears there was at least one preview cruise over the weekend, which was a 2-night sailing open to select invitees before official sailings commence.

The test sailing was limited to a small amount of guests who helpted test out some of the new health protocols, which includes contact tracing tokens, RT-PCR testing, masks and more.

While Quantum of the Seas will be able to restart in Singapore, the rest of the fleet is shutdown until further notice.

Australia cruises are cancelled through the end of January 2021, and the elsewhere cruises are shutdown until the end of December 2020 (although many expect more cancellations soon).

Royal Caribbean has shared no firm restart plans anywhere other than Singapore, as the cruise line is working diligently to prepare its ships to meet the new standards set forth by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Even though the framework for conditional sailing does open the possibility for cruises to resume in North America, there is no sense of when that sort of approval might actually occur.

Top 14 things the CDC requires cruise ships do on test sailings

In:
Category: 
28Nov2020

Test cruises are the precursor to the regular cruises starting up again, so it is no surprise so many people are fixated on when they might start and what needs to be done onboard.

Interest in test cruises has been so high that Royal Caribbean started taking sign ups for volunteers (although there has not been any information on if/when they will be needed).

So what do cruise lines have to do during these test cruises? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has outlined as series of steps test sailings must do in order to demonstrate new cruise line protocols meant to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 work well.

The Framework for Conditional Sailing lists the requirements for test cruises to complete, so here is what any cruise ship conducting a test cruise will need to do.

Read moreHere's what Royal Caribbean will require guests to do for first cruises back in Singapore

Embarkation & Disembarkation Process

Getting guests safely onboard the ship at the beginning of the cruise, and off the ship at the conclusion of the sailing is a basic requirement for test sailings.

Cruise lines must conduct the terminal check-in process so that all of the cruise terminal protocols can be tested.

Conduct regular onboard activities

Test cruises need to be as close to the "real thing" as possible, so cruise lines cannot just test out new protocols without engaging in typical cruise ship activities.

The CDC wants as close to real world experiences as they can, so that is why volunteer guests are needed and why cruise lines cannot simply do just the required drills and call it a success.

Offer private island shore excursions

If a cruise ship visits a private island (such as Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas), excursions need to be offered to simulate the process of guests going on a tour.

Shore excursions are big business for cruise lines, and a major component of the cruise experience.  New protocols have been added for shore excursions, and as a result these protocols need to be tested if a ship visits a port.

Early cruises once they restart are expected to call upon private islands on short sailings, so it is important to test these tour protocols as well.

Evacuation procedures

The reality is positive cases are to be expected onboard a cruise ship, and therefore, getting guests off the ship safely and expeditiously is important.

Cruise ships must be able to test how they will get guest(s) off the ship without disrupting other guests, or exposing anyone else.

Transfer of symptomatic passengers or crew

One of the first steps when a positive case is identified is how to quickly isolate and quarantine that person.

After someone tests positive for SARSCoV-2, they need to be moved from cabins to isolation rooms without infecting or exposing anyone else along the way.

Quarantine of all remaining passengers and non-essential crew

If there was an outbreak on the ship, unexposed passengers and crew need to be able to be quarantined to prevent further infections.

Other activities as may be listed in CDC technical instructions and orders

This is a "catch-all" for anything else the CDC may deem necessary later on. 

When the Conditional Sail Order was drafted, the federal agency knew more tasks would be needed, so it left room to add other requirements in the wording.

Meet personal hygiene standards

Test cruises must meet standards for the hygiene of passengers and crew members to ensure they are properly protecting each other.

This includes anyone onboard following CDC regulated orders related to proper

  • Hand hygiene
  • Face coverings
  • Social distancing for passengers and crew
  • Ship sanitation

Social distancing

When a test cruise serves meals onboard or engages in entertainment, it must be done with social distancing in mind.

Dining and entertainment venues must be set up to facilitate social distancing, so changes to these venues would be necessary.

Testing of all passengers on the first and last day fo the cruise

A lab test of all passengers and crew members must be completed on embarkation and disembarkation day to ensure there are no positive cases.

These tests must be made available before the passenger gets onboard the ship as well as before they leave the ship to go elsewhere.

The CDC says crew and passengers will also be laboratory tested again after they depart the ship.

Additional laboratory testing during the cruise may be required by the CDC, but it is not required as of now.

Rapid testing needed for anyone that reports symptoms

If a passenger or crew member reports a symptom that could possibly be COVID-19, the ship must immediately conduct laboratory testing with rapid point-of-care results.

Contact tracing must also be conducted to ensure anyone who had close contact is not infected either.

CDC can end test cruises whenever it wants

If necessary, the CDC can order a cruise line to immediately end a test cruise.

If COVID-19 is found on a test cruise, the CDC reserves the right to conduct any action it deems necessary to protect the health and safety of volunteer passengers and crew.

Cruise ships must record and report any problems with the new rules

If a new protocol does not work well (or at all), the ship must report these issues through an "after-action" report and address how they will address those deficiencies before they can apply to offer passenger sailings.

This after-action report must also include test results for any volunteer passengers or crew on the simulated voyage. The after-action report must be submitted to the CDC as soon as practicable at the end of the simulation and as part of the cruise ship operator’s application for a COVID-19 Conditional Sailing Certificate.

CDC can force protocol changes or insist on more test cruises

Even after a cruise line finishes its test sailings, the CDC reserves the right to request a cruise line modify new rules.

It can also require additional simulated voyages prior to giving a ship approval to restart sailings.

 

5 important things Royal Caribbean has done since the No Sail Order was lifted

In:
Category: 
25Nov2020

It has been just about 4 weeks since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lifted the No Sail Order and opened up a way for cruise lines to receive permission to sail again, and Royal Caribbean has been very active in preparing for that goal.

While a lot of what Royal Caribbean plans and is working on remains behind the scenes, there have already been a few notable changes made since the No Sail Order was lifted.

Here are five important changes Royal Caribbean has made since the No Sail Order ended in just the first month.

Cancelled more cruises

I think we all hoped that when the CDC got rid of the No Sail Order, cancelled cruises would be a thing of the past, but they are still happening.

Off the bat, December 2020 cruises (excluding Quantum of the Seas in Singapore) were cancelled to provide more time for Royal Caribbean to prepare for all of the new regulations and requirements in the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order.

The extra time is intended to thoroughly train staff and crew on new health and safety protocols, while also conducting a number of trial sailings to stress-test these measures in real-world conditions.

Before cruises can fully resume, the CDC has outlined a series of steps that need to occur before cruise ships can begin taking passengers onboard.

The framework for conditional sailing is meant to potentially allow cruise ships to sail again while not putting the public health at risk.

It is not clear yet how long it will take before Royal Caribbean (or any cruise line) can receive permission to offer cruises, but clearly Royal Caribbean feels more time is needed to get it right.

Many are expecting more cancellations, but Royal Caribbean has not announced anything yet.

Added the virtual safety drill to mobile app

One of the best changes coming to Royal Caribbean is the new Muster 2.0 drill that replaces the traditional muster drill.

The new virtual safety drill is part of Royal Caribbean's app, which Royal Caribbean describes as a "completely re-imagined onboard guest safety briefing".

Travelers will be able to review the information at their own time prior to setting sail, eliminating the need for the traditional large group assemblies. 

After reviewing safety information individually, guests will complete the drill by visiting their assigned assembly station, where a crew member will verify that all steps have been completed and answer questions. Each of the steps will need to be completed prior to the ship’s departure, as required by international maritime law.

One on the cruise ship, guests have a set time (indicated by a timer in the app) during which muster drill must be completed by all of the passengers and, in response, a message is transmitted to each mobile device that the muster drill has commenced.

Volunteers can sign up for a test cruise

So many cruise fans wanted to help test out the new health protocols that Royal Caribbean began taking volunteer sign ups.

The cruise line has a form set up for adults only (18 years or older) to enter basic information about themselves.

While Royal Caribbean is working with the CDC to determine how the test sailings will operate, they have decided to begin gathering information from those who have shown interest.

In less than a week, Royal Caribbean received over 100,000 people sign up as a volunteer for its test cruises through an online form.

Royal Caribbean has not announced any plans on when its test sailings might begin, nor how volunteers will be picked.

Cruise with Confidence was extended again

We will all have more time to change our mind about any cruises we book thanks to an extension in the Cruise with Confidence program.

Royal Caribbean has extended its Cruise with Confidence cancellation policy to now include sailings through January 31, 2021.

The popular program allows guests to cancel a cruise for any reason up to 48 hours before a sailing is scheduled to depart in exchange for a future cruise credit. Today's announcement means an additional two months of flexibility for guests.

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

Cruises longer than 7 nights are on hold

Just this week, Royal Caribbean decided to stop selling cruises longer than 7-nights while it figures out how to handle the ones currently scheduled.

The CDC's Framework for Conditional Sailing Order stipulates that cruises longer than 7 nights and call on a U.S. port are not allowed while the CSO is in effect.

Therefore, Royal Caribbean sailings between Jan. 1 and Nov. 1, 2021 are "temporarily paused" while Royal Caribbean determines what to do with them.

More information about the fate of these sailings will be coming "in coming weeks" once Royal Caribbean has an update to share.

Here's what Royal Caribbean will require guests to do for first cruises back in Singapore

In:
23Nov2020

Royal Caribbean is about to restart cruises again with Quantum of the Seas in Singapore, and we have our first look at what guests can expect onboard.

The first Quantum of the Seas sailings will depart in early December, and guests booked on December cruises have received an email from the cruise line with what to expect on embarkation day.

Past cruisers may recognize these emails, but with the new health regulations and protocols, there are some big changes outlined.

Here is a look at everything the cruise line recommends you do. The full email is included at the bottom of this article.

Take a COVID-19 test before the cruise

Testing is a major component to Royal Caribbean's multi-faceted approach to keeping everyone safe on a cruise, and you will need to take a test before you arrive.

Royal Caribbean says every guest must get a rtPCR SARS-CoV-2 test (between 24 hours and 3 days before your cruise), and bring your negative test result with you on embarkation day.

There will also be additional health questions to answer on the app before you sail.

According to Royal Caribbean, the cost of a SARS-CoV-2 test is included in your cruise fare for sailings departing on or before January 30, 2021 from Singapore.

Contact tracing app or token required

Anyone going on Quantum of the Seas will need to have either downloaded a contact tracing app on their phone, or collected a token.

Guests have the choice of downloading the  TraceTogether app or collected the TraceTogether (TT) token in order to board the ship.

Passengers without either will not be allowed to board the ship.

Please note that children below 7 years old are exempted and are not required to have the TT Token or app with them.

Introducing the Tracelet

Royal Caribbean trademarked something called a "tracelet" in October, and it is now confirmed as a contact tracing wristband.

In the cruise terminal you will be provided a Tracelet, which is a wrist wearable that will help us with contact tracing onboard.

Just like your SeaPass card you should have your Tracelet and your TT Token/ turn on the TraceTogether app on you at all times throughout your sail with us.

Check-in times matter

In the past, check-in times were more suggestions, but it looks like the cruise line will enforce them now.

Royal Caribbean says for the best check-in and boarding experience, be sure to arrive only during your pre-selected check-in/wellness screening time with your entire traveling party.

Your check-in appointment is dedicated for your screening, so arriving earlier will have you turned away until your time.

App will be super important

Royal Caribbean's smart phone app is going to be incredibly important, as it allows for less hand-to-hand contact between guests and crew.

In addition to enhanced onboard sanitation, the app will be how you make reservations for all dining, shore excursion, activity, and entertainment.

In addition, the app will be how you conduct the onboard safety drill. This must be done before the ship sails and is required of all guests.

Stay tuned for live coverage from Quantum of the Seas!

Many cruise fans are excited to see the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship sail soon, and RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com has teamed up with the Singapore Cruise Society to bring you updates from the first sailings.

Singapore Cruise Society is the leading cruising blog and community in Southeast Asia, and they will be on the first Quantum of the Seas sailings in December.  RoyalCaribbeanBlog will be one of the exclusive partners sharing photos and updates from onboard Quantum of the Seas to showcase what the first cruises back are all about.

Over 100,000 volunteers have signed up to go on a Royal Caribbean test cruise

In:
Category: 
16Nov2020

Cruise fans are ready to get back to sea, and Royal Caribbean is seeing that demand in the form of people volunteering for test cruises.

In less than a week, Royal Caribbean has received over 100,000 people sign up as a volunteer for its test cruises through an online form.

Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley shared the milestone on social media in a brief post.

Mr. Bayley also shared in a different Facebook post how "gratifying" it is to see so many people want to help get cruises back, "As many know from reading the CDC conditional sale order we will be operating trial sailings with volunteer guests. It has been so gratifying to receive literally thousands of emails and calls offering to volunteer."

The sign ups are for test cruises that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) require cruise lines to conduct prior to regular cruises being approved for restart in the United States.

On Thursday of last week, Royal Caribbean published an online signup form to allow anyone who is at least 18 years old to sign up after receiving thousands of inquiries from the public about how they could sign up to be a test cruiser.

The opportunity has spread across social media as cruise fans are showing that a lot are ready to cruise again, despite any risks associated with the current global health crisis.

Royal Caribbean has not announced any plans on when its test sailings might begin, although they could start as early as December.

In addition, Royal Caribbean has not said how it would pick people from the public to help test out these cruises. The only requirement listed when signing up was you had to be 18 years old.

If you want to sign up, you can fill out this form.

Willing and able

The incredible amount of signups in such a short amount of time is a testament to the pent-up demand that Royal Caribbean has seen from its customers since it shutdown operations in March.

Royal Caribbean has told investors that demand for cruises in the future remains strong because people want to get back on vacation.

On the RoyalCaribbeanBlog message boards, many cruise fans shared why they wanted signed up as volunteer.

IRMO12HD wrote, "I volunteered because I'm in a position to (retired, able to quarantine if necessary, willing to accept the risks involved, in good health) and because I want to support Royal Caribbean in returning to cruising.  My eyes are wide open; I know this will be a test, not a 'cruise' as such, and that many of the things I love about cruising will not be occurring.  That's okay.  I believe at this point, the industry needs support; more than that, I think it needs belief and trust."

krhardy is also eager to get back on a cruise ship, "I volunteered because I love cruising, and I am eager to be part of the return to sea. I want to help test the procedures and provide the feedback they need so that we can ALL get back to cruising."

Neesa also wants to do what she can to help Royal Caribbean, "I know I could be a flexible participant, standing by and patiently working with and alongside the team for a meaningful outcome. My love of the ocean and sailing drove me to sign up and support Royal Caribbean's efforts, I personally feel they have gotten a pretty raw deal."

sk8erguy1978 did not sign up, but admits it is intriguing, "With rising cases in my area and new restrictions being put in place, I'm not sure non-essential air travel is a good idea. It does sound like an amazing "once in a lifetime" opportunity and would love to be part of it."

What do volunteers have to do?

While volunteers would get on a cruise ship sooner, it will not necessarily be a complete pleasure cruise.

The CDC has outlined a variety of important tasks that volunteers on a test cruise would have to help test out.

During the test cruise, the following activities must be simulated:

  • embarkation and disembarkation procedures, including terminal check-in, 
  • on board activities, including at dining and entertainment venues,
  • private island shore excursions (if a port is visited)
  • evacuation procedures,
  • transfer of symptomatic passengers or crew, or those who test positive for SARSCoV-2, from cabins to isolation rooms,
  • quarantine of all remaining passengers and non-essential crew, and
  • other activities as may be listed in CDC technical instructions and orders.

Royal Caribbean must modify meal service and entertainment venues to facilitate social distancing during the simulated voyage.

Over 20,000 people sign up in first 24 hours to volunteer for a Royal Caribbean test sailing

In:
Category: 
13Nov2020

Royal Caribbean is looking for volunteers for test cruises and the response in the first 24 hours has been overwhelming.

In just the first day since Royal Caribbean opened up a Facebook group and sign up form for anyone who is interested in being a test cruise volunteer, over 22,000 people have joined the Facebook page to get more information.

On Thursday morning, Royal Caribbean responded to over a week of inquiries from the public on how they might be able to sign up to be a volunteer on a mock cruise that will help test out the cruise line's new protocols.

Part of the process for any cruise line to receive approval to restart cruises from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is to conduct a series of test sailings that have volunteer passengers onboard.

The cruise line received over 3,000 emails since last week with people expressing interest in being a cruise ship volunteer, so Royal Caribbean opened up its Volunteer of the Seas group in an effort to more easily collect information on anyone who might be interested in being a volunteer.

According to Royal Caribbean, "This group will serve the community of adventurers who are excited and ready to be the first back at sea. Get ready to dust off your suitcase and get back to adventure!".

Royal Caribbean has not announced any plans on when its test sailings might begin, although they could start as early as December.

In addition, Royal Caribbean has not said how it would pick people from the public to help test out these cruises. The only requirement listed when signing up was you had to be 18 years old.

In a statement by Royal Caribbean, the Facebook group is for gathering a list of people that are interested in being a volunteer, and more details will be determined later.

"We are still reviewing the CDC framework and do not have details on our simulated sailings."

"While we review the requirements proposed by the CDC and consider when we can host our simulated trial sailings, we are gathering information from those who have shown interest on our Facebook group and will be in touch with them when we have more details. Our priority is to ensure that we can exercise our comprehensive set of measures in a safe and healthy manner while making sure we provide a memorable vacation experience."

Test sailings are part of the second phase of the CDC's plan to potentially allow cruise lines to sail again.  Non-revenue sailings will allow crew members to respond to simulated virus scenarios onboard.

Additionally, all crew and voluntary passengers must follow testing protocols, which include rapid testing prior to both embarkation and disembarkation.

"The cruise ship operator must conduct a monitored observation period and laboratory testing of volunteer passengers, as directed in CDC technical instructions or orders, prior to embarking volunteer passengers on a simulated voyage."

Here's how to sign up to be a volunteer for a Royal Caribbean test cruise

In:
Category: 
12Nov2020

If you are one of the many cruise fans eager to get back on a cruise ship, Royal Caribbean is now taking volunteers who want to sign up for test cruises.

After a week of speculation, Royal Caribbean posted on social media a link for anyone interested in signing up to be a volunteer on a test cruise.

The cruise line has a form set up for adults only (18 years or older) to enter basic information about themselves.

You can sign up to be a cruise volunteer here!

Royal Caribbean posted in its new Facebook group that the cruise line has received more than 3,000 emails, not including the tweets, comments, and messages across our social channels with interest in signing up for test cruises.

While Royal Caribbean is working with the CDC to determine how the test sailings will operate, they have decided to begin gathering information from those who have shown interest.

What is a test cruise?

Before Royal Caribbean can restart regular sailings, it needs to prove its new health protocols 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.

It is not clear yet when exactly Royal Caribbean may begin test sailings, but it has been hinted they could begin as soon as December.

A simulated voyage must meet the following requirements:

  • Volunteer passengers are to be told in writing of the "inherently risky activity" of their test sailing with untested health and safety protocols.
  • All volunteer passengers must be at least eighteen years old or older.
  • All volunteer passengers must have a written certification from a healthcare provider that they have no pre-existing medical conditions .
  • Royal Caribbean must conduct any simulation on a consensual basis and not as a condition of employment or in exchange for consideration or future reward. 
  • Royal Caribbean must embark additional crew members beyond safe minimum manning levels only as determined through CDC technical instructions or orders.
  •  The cruise ship operator must design and conduct a simulated voyage insofar as practicable to test the efficacy of the cruise ship operator’s ability to mitigate the risks  of COVID-19 onboard its cruise ship.
  • The cruise ship operator must conduct a monitored observation period and laboratory  testing of volunteer passengers, as directed in CDC technical instructions or orders, prior to embarking volunteer passengers on a simulated voyage.

What volunteers may need to do

Volunteering for a test cruise does mean getting back onboard a cruise ship, but you should expect a lot of tasks as part of the process.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has listed a series of important tasks that must be completed by all volunteers on any test cruise.

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. 

During the test cruise, the following activities must be simulated:

  • embarkation and disembarkation procedures, including terminal check-in, 
  • on board activities, including at dining and entertainment venues,
  • private island shore excursions (if a port is visited)
  • evacuation procedures,
  • transfer of symptomatic passengers or crew, or those who test positive for SARSCoV-2, from cabins to isolation rooms,
  • quarantine of all remaining passengers and non-essential crew, and
  • other activities as may be listed in CDC technical instructions and orders.

Royal Caribbean must modify meal service and entertainment venues to facilitate social distancing during the simulated voyage.

Royal Caribbean has no plans to ask for volunteers for test cruises that are not employees

In:
Category: 
11Nov2020

UPDATE: This information is now out of date. Royal Caribbean has changed thier minds and has set up a form to take volunteer sign ups.

Ever since Royal Caribbean said it would need volunteers for its test cruises last week, there has been a flurry of interest, but the cruise line does not need the public help yet.

A week after sparking interest in new volunteers, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed, said the cruise line received an "enthusiastic interest" from the public to sign up as a volunteer, but Royal Caribbean has no need for public volunteers.

Ms. Freed told travel agents plans for its test cruises are still very much up in the air, and there is no way for the public to sign up for them.

"We don't know when these trials sailings are going to happen. We're working on a number of different game plans."

"We do know that we will initially have our employees and members of our operations team. But if we find the need to expand beyond our employee base, we are going to be honored to have some of our travel partners to help us on these cruises. So when that time comes, we will certainly let you know."

Ms. Freed said she received over 3,000 emails from travel agents, consumers, and repeat cruisers who were all interested in signing up as a volunteer.

As first reported by RoyalCaribbeanBlog last week, Ms. Freed talked about the possibility of volunteers being needed for test cruises and it sparked an avalanche of interest.

Despite Ms. Freed indicating details needed to be fleshed out on many aspects of these test sailings, that did not stop a lot of people picking up on the possibility of volunteer cruisers being required.

In addition, a multitude of media outlets picked up on the story, which poured gasoline on the fire of interest among cruise fans who have expressed a strong desire to get back onboard.

"We received an abundance of emails related to your willingness to wanting to volunteer for any upcoming trial cruises," Ms. Freed confessed to travel partners.  "And I have to tell you kept me very busy as well as many of our team members."

"But I do want to share with you, you do not need to send me any emails at this time."

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Michelle reached out to Royal Caribbean directly about signing up as a volunteer, but the cruise line gave her a similar answer that Ms. Freed shared.

In addition, over 500 people have overwhelmingly shared their interest in becoming a volunteer on the RoyalCaribbeanBlog message boards.

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