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Cruises Resuming

Research firm forecasts Royal Caribbean's gradual cruise ship restart plan

In:
Category: 
18Dec2020

The question everyone wants to know is when cruise ships will restart sailings, and in what capacity.

Royal Caribbean has provided no firm restart plan in the United States, but Wall Street is just as eager as cruise fans to know when cruises might restart.

The Cleveland Research Company (CRC) is independent research firm that released the results of a study of expectations for gradual cruise ship restart in 2021.

CRC did its own research of conversations with travel agents and commentary from the cruise lines to determine what can be expected going forward.

The research firm concluded that across the Royal Caribbean Group brands, 44% of the fleet will be operating by December 2021 for an average of 20% sailing for the full year.

They also think 100% of the fleet will be in operation by mid-2022 and will finish fiscal year 2022 with 84% capacity.

CRC noted that it is not certain which ships Royal Caribbean Group will target for restart first in the United States, but it expects Quantum of the Seas to continue to sail from Singapore.

They did note Royal Caribbean Group's comments from the Third Quarter 2020 call with investors that stated initial revenue sailings will focus on short cruises in key drive-to markets in the U.S. and APAC. Trips out of the U.S. will likely start slowly and focus on stopping at private destinations, such as CocoCay.

Another prediction made was the influx of new cruise ships across the brand of companies that make up Royal Caribbean Group.

Delivery of Odyssey of the Seas in 2021 and Wonder of the Seas in 2022 are part of the plan, and CRC expects one new ship for Royal Caribbean International in 2023. They believe the first Icon Class ship is likely that vessel and is probable for 2023.

Royal Caribbean still has a number of government restrictions it needs to address before they can restart cruises.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlined a series of steps that need to be completed before a cruise ship can receive approval to restart sailings.

Essentially, the Conditional Sail Order requires any cruise line to complete a few key steps:

  • Protect crew members from any health issues
  • Conduct a series of test sailings with volunteer passengers
  • Obtain a "Conditional Sailing Certificate" from the CDC

The research firm did not directly address the CDC's restrictions, but did allude to it in predictions for other cruise line's announced plans.

Royal Caribbean says so many volunteers for test cruise is 'incredibly motivating'

In:
Category: 
08Dec2020

Ever since Royal Caribbean started taking volunteer sign ups for test cruises, there has been an incredible amount of interest from guests.

Numbers from different sources point to somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 people that have signed up as a volunteer.

"The participation in and sentiment of the comments and conversations on the Volunteers of the Seas group has been incredibly motivating," Royal Caribbean said in a statement to Travel Weekly.

"It's refreshing to be reminded of all the people out there who are excited about the possibility of sailing and eager to come onboard a Royal Caribbean International ship again."

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has tasked the cruise lines with conducting an unspecified amount of test cruises to demonstrate new health protocols can work effectively.

The CDC also stipulated that test cruises must include volunteers who are not paying to be onboard.

In November 2020, Royal Caribbean set up a form for guests to sign up if they were interested in being a volunteer for a test cruise.

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

From the moment the form went live, interest spiked almost immediately. There has been a great deal of interest from cruising die hards who lament the loss of cruises this year and are eager to get back onboard.

Royal Caribbean has not announced how or when it will pick volunteers, or if any of the volunteers will be used at all.

Initially, Royal Caribbean said it would primarily use cruise line employees as volunteers for its test cruises, in a similar manner to how the cruise line has tested out new ships prior to their official debut.

There was so much interest from guests in being a volunteer that Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley had a sign up form set up.

Last week, Mr. Bayley hinted that Pinnacle members in Crown and Anchor Society and other high tier members might get the first shot at being a volunteer.

"Our top tier has the name of Pinnacle and they've cruised with us a gazillion times … they'll be amongst the first to receive the invitation."

"We haven't figured out our protocols yet for the volunteers but certainly loyalty status will be a key selector."

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

Royal Caribbean has set up a Facebook group for anyone interested in being a volunteer, but has conveyed very little information about how volunteers would be used, if at all.

In addition to there not being any information about how volunteers will be picked, when test sailings might actually occur is equally unknown.

There is speculation they could begin as soon as December or January, but there has been no official timeline released by the cruise line.

Short cruises to private island will be first

Regardless of if there are test cruises or the first revenue sailings, expect the first cruises back in North America to be short sailings to Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Royal Caribbean has mentioned that early sailings will start slowly, and include a stop at a private island where guest movements are more easily controlled.

Jason T. Liberty, executive vice president and Chief Financial Officer talked about this scenario recently, "Deployment of spring is expected to be highly focused on short sailings from key drive markets in both the U.S. and Asia-Pacific regions."

"We will also make the most out of our incredible private destination in the Bahamas. Perfect Day at CocoCay."

Will Royal Caribbean pick volunteers for its test cruises based on loyalty status?

In:
Category: 
05Dec2020

Ever since Royal Caribbean announced it would take sign ups for its test cruises, everyone has been wondering how they would pick volunteers.

It looks like the elite of Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program might get the first chance.

According to a report by unofficial cruise reporting site CruiseCritic, Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley seemed to confirm the higher your status in Crown and Anchor Society, the better your chances.

Mr. Bayley spoke at the International Cruise Summit and said its Pinnacle members would be first.

"Our top tier has the name of Pinnacle and they've cruised with us a gazillion times … they'll be amongst the first to receive the invitation."

"We haven't figured out our protocols yet for the volunteers but certainly loyalty status will be a key selector."

Royal Caribbean began taking sign ups for its test cruises about a month ago, but the cruise line has remained quiet about how it would determine which volunteers would actually be able to be among the first to get back onboard for a simulated voyage.

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

These test cruises are necessary in order to practice the new health protocols and demonstrate to the CDC that cruises can be conducted in a safe manner.

Thus far, only Royal Caribbean has opened up a public sign up for volunteers, and has netted at least 100,000 people to sign up for simulated cruises. Mr. Bayley said in his comments that number was now almost 200,000.

Royal Caribbean has set up a Facebook group for anyone interested in being a volunteer, but has conveyed very little information about how volunteers would be used, if at all.

Furthermore, there has been no announcement of when test cruises might actually begin.

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.

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