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Cruises Resuming

Cruise ports workers rally in support of cruise ships restarting sailings

In:
21Oct2020

Longshoremen, hotel workers, port officials and everyone affected by the effect of cruise lines shut down held a rally across different cruise ports on Wednesday in support of cruise lines being able to restart sailings again.

Cruise industry workers rallied in Florida and Texas to tell lawmakers to allow the cruise industry to restart.

Cruise lines have been shutdown since March due to the global health crisis, and are currently unable to restart cruises because of the U.S. Center for Disease Control's No Sail order that prevents passenger service in the United States.

Rallies were held in Port Canaveral, PortMiami and the Port of Galveston to protest the shutdown and the effect it has had on all the jobs.

Photos by the Port of Galveston

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) stated cruise activity in Florida supports over 150,000 local jobs, contributing $7.7 billion in wages and salaries to Floridians across a variety of local sectors and industries. 

U.S. Senator Rick Scott went on Fox News Radio to talk about the work he has been doing to try to convince the CDC to work with cruise lines on a way to restart the industry.

Senator Scott was clearly upset with the lack of any kind of progress with the CDC, "not being responsive. I don’t get it. It’s like a black hole."

Government, said Scott, should do as he did when he was Governor, and “tell people yes or no” and “make the regulations really clear.”

“Tell me no, that’s an answer,” Scott said.

Why the CDC has banned cruise ships

If you read the opening portion of the No Sail Order, it explains early on out why the CDC believes cruise ships should not operate.

"Cruise ships continue to be an unsafe environment with close quarters where the disease spreads easily and is not readily detected," is the direct rationale for why cruise ships may not sail.

In order to prove this, the Executive Summary cites CDC data on COVID-19 cases aboard cruise ships.

"Cumulative CDC data from March 1 through September 28, 2020, show a total of 3,689 confirmed cases of COVID-19 or COV1D-like illness cases on cruise ships and 41 deaths. These data have also revealed a total of 102 outbreaks on 124 different cruise ships, meaning more than 82% of ships within U.S. jurisdiction were affected by COVID-19 during this time frame. In addition, four cruise ships still have ongoing or resolving COV1D-19 outbreaks on board. Recent outbreaks on cruise ships overseas continue to demonstrate that reduced capacity alone has not diminished transmission."

In addition, the CDC cited small-scale cases of the virus on a few sailings that have restarted outside the United States.

All of this lead the CDC to believe cruise ships, "would likely spread the infection  into U.S. communities if passenger operations were to resume prematurely in the United States."

What happens if a cruise is oversold above reduced capacity?

In:
Category: 
16Oct2020

Ever since Royal Caribbean said it would lower the capacity of its ships in order to foster social distancing, many cruise fans want to know what happens if the ship is already oversold beyond that limit?

One of the many new protocols that Royal Caribbean has added to make cruises safe for everyone is its ships would not sail at 100% occupancy in order to lower load factors for social distancing.

This change is not permanent, but at least for the early sailings back, reduced capacity is expected.  In fact, for the Quantum of the Seas sailings in Singapore in December, there will be a maximum of 50% capacity for those voyages.

So how will Royal Caribbean determine who gets to cruise and who will not in order to maintain lower ship capacity?

No official answer yet

So far, there has been no official policy announced on how the cruise line will handle enforcing a lower ship capacity in regards to existing bookings.

The question of how will Royal Caribbean determine which reservations are cancelled or moved if the ship is sold above the lowered maximum capacity for the ship is one of the most commonly asked questions among RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers.

A Royal Caribbean Strategic Account Manager said this week that the cruise line is still considering options, "This is a scenario that we are aware of and looking into."

"Once we can pinpoint the exact capacity per ship, we will be able to discuss this process in more detail.  More details to come one hear back form the CDC."

Getting around the problem in Singapore

It looked like we might have gotten an answer with the announcement Quantum of the Seas would restart cruises in December, but Royal Caribbean circumvented the problem by cancelling all of Quantum of the Seas' sailings, and then announcing new sailings to book.

By doing this, Royal Caribbean avoided a scenario where that could happen, but using this strategy in the Caribbean would mean hundreds of cancelled cruises and a shorter window of time to get guests rebooked.

Moreover, Royal Caribbean already has ships sailing short cruises from Florida, whereas Quantum of the Seas was originally scheduled to do longer cruises.  This made the decision to cancel and re-issue new sailings for Quantum more of a necessity.

How would they pick which reservations are cancelled?

It is anyone's guess how Royal Caribbean will handle these sort of scenarios, and which reservations stay and which get cancelled.

Based on the comment from the Royal Caribbean Strategic Account Manager, it sounds like there will not be a fleetwide standard, but based on each ship.

Moreover, there are a few different possibilities I could see happening, but these are all just guesses:

  • Who booked the sailing first gets to stay
  • Reverse Crown and Anchor Society status
  • Airline model: ask for volunteers first, and then start randomly bumping reservations
  • Cancelling all cruises, similar to Quantum of the Seas in Singapore.

UBS Analyst Robin Farley said in June that the cheapest staterooms are likely candidates to be excluded.

"We note that since cruise lines are taking so much capacity out of service and not pricing to fill what is in service, they could potentially eliminate some of the lowest-margin demand that they might normally turn to when filling a ship."

There is no clear indication yet on what Royal Caribbean may or may not do, nor is there any signs if they would cancel certain reservations that are already booked.

Top 10 most surprising new cruise health protocols

In:
Category: 
15Oct2020

If you are anything like me, you have been combing over all the new health protocols and rules Royal Caribbean intends to add for guests once they go on a cruise.

Many of these rules are not that different from new regulations added to land-based experiences we are all adjusting to, but a few of the new rules are still somewhat surprising.

I picked out a few of the new protocols that stood out as either different than I was expecting, or perhaps intriguing as a new policy overall.

Order drinks using QR codes

In order to reduce contact between crew and guests, you will be able to to view menus on your phone and order drinks digitally.

This sort of smart enhancement combines convenience and social distancing, and it also means not having to try to find a waiter to take your order.

Face masks are required in all areas of the pool deck

Perhaps the most surprising protocol is that guests will have to wear masks while outside around the pool deck.

While masks do not have to be work in the pool or hot tub, if you are sun bathing or otherwise lounging around the pool deck, a face mask will be required to be worn.

Specifically, face masks are required in all areas of the pool deck unless you’re in the water, where you should continue to observe physical distancing.

For the outer decks, Royal Caribbean says, "On Singapore cruises, face masks are required on the outer decks, except while riding the FlowRider." Whether or not that refers to a change in policy for cruises elsewhere remains to be determined.

Need to wear face masks while waiting in line for water slides

The logistics of this rule are going to be interesting to see, but if you are in line for the FlowRider or waterslides, you will have to wear a mask.

Since you cannot carry the mask with you down the slide or while on the FlowRider, there must be a means of retrieving it after the experience is complete.

Private appointments for shopping

Shops onboard cruise ships will have limited number of shoppers at once, and will offer private appointments by request.

It is not clear if private appointments will be available for every shop, or just the high end stores.

Complimentary face mask and hand sanitizing gel

Under the stateroom protocols, Royal Caribbean says it will offer complimentary face mask and hand sanitizing gel upon your arrival into your room.

Of course, you will need a face mask in the cruise terminal and elsewhere leading up to getting to your room, but there may be alternative mask options provided by the cruise line.

Contactless room service

Another change to the old ways of doing things, room service delivery will be contactless.

Instead of the room service crew member entering your room and bringing you the food, they will drop it off, similar to how food delivery has changed on land.

No dinner buffet

Royal Caribbean states on its website that the Windjammer buffet will not be open for dinner while there is reduced capacity onboard.

Buffets will now be served by crew rather than self-service, and more covered or wrapped grab-and-go items will be made available for your convenience at buffets and cafes around the ship.

In addition, reservations for the Windjammer buffet will be recommended, but not completely necessary. Royal Caribbean says they will "gladly" accommodate walk-ins when availability permits, but reservations are recommended for the Windjammer buffet due to limited capacity.

No karaoke

Certain activities have been deemed simply not safe to be offered onboard, including karaoke, laser tag, parades and themed parties.

While Royal Caribbean says they will still offer a great deal of entertainment variety, these particular events will be absent.

Appointments will be required at the gym

Staying fit is a major priority for a lot of guests, and while the fitness center will be open, it will have a limited capacity.

The gym will still be available but due to limited capacity to allow for physical distancing, appointments will be required. 

Face masks will be required inside the gym, unless you are performing strenuous exercises, such as participating in fitness classes or using cardio machines like the treadmill, rower, and stair stepper. 

Temperature checks conducted by kiosk or by your stateroom attendant

Every day there will be a mandatory temperature check in the afternoon using touchless thermometers.

It will be performed via kiosk or by your stateroom attendant. Both guests and crew members have their temperature checked daily.

Royal Caribbean releases easy guide to new health protocols

In:
Category: 
15Oct2020

Royal Caribbean plans to restart cruises in December on Quantum of the Seas, and has released some easy to read guides about the new changes that will be added.

The cruise line calls its collection of new health protocols, "The Royal Promise", and it encompasses all the new changes onboard to protect guests from the current health crisis.

These changes include reducing the number of guests onboard to no more than 50% occupancy, testing everyone before sailing, and enhanced cleanliness standards.

Pool Deck

Royal Caribbean ships will sail at no more than 50% occupancy, and added friendly spacing reminders anywhere a little extra guidance may be needed.

They have implemented safe spacing at restaurants, bars and lounges, shows, Casino Royale, and on the pool deck. This includes reduced capacity in pools and hot tubs.

1. More Room to Swim
Pools are limited to 50% capacity to allow for physical distancing. Face masks should not be worn, as a wet mask can cause difficulty in breathing.
2. Spaced Out Seating
Pool chairs and day beds are disinfected daily and arranged to allow for sufficient space between your group and others.
3. Increased Sanitization
All public areas and bathrooms are regularly disinfected, including daily electrostatic spraying.
4. Towels
All pool towels are washed with hospital-grade detergents at high temperatures.
5. Clean Hands on Deck
Additional touchless Purell hand sanitizer and wipes dispensers are available for you.
6. Soak Up the Space
Whirlpools are limited in capacity so you can safely enjoy bubbles with your buds.
7. Less Things to Touch
Order drinks using QR codes to view menus on your phone. And no need to sign or deal with receipts for lower-cost transactions.
8. Soft Served to You
All self-service ice cream machines will be staffed by crew members.
9. Poolside Tables
Some tables will be blocked off to give you plenty of space to sit and snack.
10. Back on Track
Enjoy some exercise on the jogging track during dedicated mask-free hours.
11. Here for You
Safety ambassadors and crew members will help ensure everyone is safe and following recommendations.
12. 
Face Masks
Face masks are required in all areas of the pool deck unless you’re in the water, where you should continue to observe physical distancing

Outdoor Activities

Royal Caribbean has added enhanced health and safety protocols to its signature outdoor activities, including the FlowRider and mini-golf.

1. Increased Sanitization
All public areas and bathrooms are regularly disinfected including daily electrostatic spraying.
2. Clean Hands on Deck
Additional touchless Purell hand sanitizer and wipes dispensers are available for you.
3. Spaced Out Seating
Chairs and benches are disinfected daily and arranged to allow for a safe distance between your group and others.
4. FlowRider® & Waterslides
Water activities do not require face masks while riding, but need to be worn while waiting in line.
5. Dry Slides & Rides
Dry slides and other rides will be sanitized regularly during open hours.
6. Sports Court
Enjoy instructor-led competitions and drills that give you new ways to exercise while physically distanced.
7. Mini Golf & Table Tennis
Sanitized equipment can be checked out from the Sports Desk, or sanitizing wipes will be provided for use after each player.
8. Zip Line
All equipment is sanitized by staff between riders.
9. Rock Climbing Wall
All gear is sanitized by staff between climbers and liquid chalk has replaced shared regular chalk.
10. Regular Reminders
Announcements are made periodically to encourage physical distancing and floor markers help direct you where to safely stand.
11. Here for You
Safety ambassadors and crew members will help ensure everyone is safe and following recommendations.
12. Face Masks
On Singapore cruises, face masks are required on the outer decks, except while riding the FlowRider.

Other Fleet Favorite Experiences

North Star
Limited to 4 riders, or 5 riders of the same travel group. Physical distancing is observed. Reserve on Cruise Planner.

RipCord by iFLY
Staff and guests must wear face masks until entering the flight tunnel. Physical distancing is observed. Reserve on Cruise Planner.

Indoor areas

New stringent cleaning protocols ensure safe public hangouts, with smart enhancements like virtual queues and QR code menus.

1. More Room for You
Indoor venues are limited to 50% capacity with floor markers and directional signage to safely guide you.
2. Increased Sanitization
All public areas are regularly disinfected including daily electrostatic spraying and frequent disinfecting of high-touch surfaces.
3. Getting Around
Elevators are limited to four people at a time or your travel group only. Stairs are available as usual and railings are cleaned frequently.
4. Clean Hands on Deck
Additional touchless Purell hand sanitizer and wipes dispensers are available for you.
5. Indoor Cafés and Restaurants
Tables and seating are sanitized regularly. Some tables will be blocked for physical distancing.
6. Bars and Lounges
Tables, seating and bar tops are sanitized regularly. Some seats will be blocked for physical distancing.
7. Virtual Queuing
Your phone will alert you when it’s your turn to be helped at the Guest Services or Shore Excursions desks.
8. Private Shopping
Stores will welcome a limited number of shoppers at once, and private appointments are available by request.
9. Less Things to Touch
Order food and drink using QR codes to view menus on your phone. And no need to sign or deal with receipts for lower-cost transactions.
10. 100% Fresh, Filtered Air
Fresh ocean air from outside is continuously supplied to all public spaces.
11. Here for You
Safety ambassadors and crew members will help ensure everyone is safe and following recommendations.
12. Face Masks
Face masks are required. In restaurants, bars and lounges, seated guests may eat and drink without masks.

Staterooms

Royal Caribbean has enhanced their stateroom cleaning protocols, cleaning all high-touch surfaces with disinfectants and cleaning agents that have been certified by the local authorities.

In addition, your room has a continuous flow of 100% fresh air from outside, even if you don't have a balcony or window.

1. Certified Cleaning Agents
Hospital-grade disinfectants are used daily to clean all high-touch surfaces.
2. Crisp, Clean Linens
All towels, bedding, and pillows are laundered with hospital-grade detergents at high temperatures.
3. 100% Fresh, Filtered Air
Fresh ocean air is continuously supplied to every stateroom from outside, with a total air change of up to 12 times per hour.
4. Daily Distanced Service
Your room is only serviced and sanitized by a stateroom attendant while you are out — and there are still towel animal surprises.
5. Room Service
We know Room Service is your favorite stateroom ritual. And new contactless delivery protocols ensure you’ll enjoy it safely.
6. Welcome Amenities
Complimentary face mask and hand sanitizing gel are provided upon your arrival.
7. Safety Briefing
Now you can watch the muster video from the comfort of your in-stateroom television.
8. Digital Daily Planner
Conveniently access your Cruise Compass from the Royal App on your phone.
9. Face Mask
Face masks are not required while in your stateroom or balcony.

 

A decision on lifting the cruise ship ban could be coming as early as this week

In:
Category: 
14Oct2020

Royal Caribbean is prepared for a possible announcement of cruises restarting next week, depending on what happens with the No Sail order.

Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed, informed travel agents that there is a possibility next week if the U.S. Center for Disease Control lifts the No Sail order.

During a webinar with travel agents, Freed mentioned the possibility of talking about restarting cruises if an announcement is made, or delaying that discussion if no decision is reached.

"There is a chance that we will have a return to service Coffee Chat, if the CDC gives us the green light this week."

That announcement could be postponed, "If we don't hear back this week from the CDC."

The No Sail order is a ban on cruise ships that is prohibits any cruise ships with 250 or more passengers from operating in the U.S. through October 31, 2020.

Royal Caribbean has cancelled of its cruises through November 30, 2020.

Royal Caribbean has been shutdown since mid-March, and the No Sail order has been a major obstacle to any restart plan in North America.

The No Sail order will remain in effect until one of the following occurs:

  • The expiration of the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ declaration that COVID-19 constitutes a public health emergency,
  • The CDC Director rescinds or modifies the order based on specific public health or other considerations, or
  • October 31, 2020.

The CEO of Royal Caribbean and four other cruise lines met with Vice President Pence and the CDC last week to discuss the detailed steps the cruise lines will employ to operate safely.

The meeting was set up to discuss how the current global health crisis impacts the cruise industry, along with the CDC’s No Sail Order, and the Cruise Lines International Association and Healthy Sail Panel’s proposal to resume sailing operations in a safe and responsible manner.

While the No Sail order is stopping cruises in North America, Royal Caribbean will begin sailing with Quantum of the Seas in December out of Singapore.

These 3- and 4-night Singapore sailings will be limited to residents of Singapore.

Royal Caribbean’s plan to avoid a ship getting quarantined

In:
Category: 
12Oct2020

It seems a lot of cruisers are more concerned about being stuck on a cruise ship for days or weeks due to a mandatory quarantine than any other possible risk associated with going on a cruise in 2020.

A couple of cruise ships in Asia became media spectacles right before cruising shut down, and that has left a lot of cruise fans concerned regardless of any rules or regulations, that they could be stuck on a ship for an extended period of time due to a positive case onboard.

To that point, Royal Caribbean's Healthy Sail Panel spent a lot of time working towards how to respond if there is a case that gets onboard.

The basic premise is for the system to catch it early before it can become widespread on the ship.

"We respond properly. We have a extensive contingency plan so that we don't have to go through one of these processes of quarantining huge numbers of people," said Royal Caribbean Group Chairman Richard Fain. "We take care of the the the small number that we catch early and everybody else can go about their business."

The Royal Promise is the name of the broad new set of policies that will address every aspect of a healthy sailing when cruises resume, and it provides what Royal Caribbean will do to avoid a ship quarantine.

Health and safety protocols, guest conduct rules, as well as regional travel restrictions and clearance to visit ports of call, are subject to change without notice based on ongoing evaluation, public health standards, and government requirements. Onboard and destination experiences, features, itineraries, and guest conduct rules vary by ship and destination and are subject to change without notice.

What happens if someone starts feeling unwell?

If someone starts to feel ill, they can contact the medical staff by phone. The medical team will evaluate the guest in the comfort and privacy of their stateroom and determine if a SARS-CoV-2 test is needed.

Royal Caribbean's onboard medical facilities are prepared to offer robust treatment with rapid RT-PCR testing onsite; state-of-the-art equipment enhancements like hospital-grade ventilators with CPAP and BiPAP capabilities; a dedicated Controlled Care Center where potentially infectious guests or crew can be cared for away from general medical areas; and more critical care beds on each ship.

The enhanced Medical Center has added more doctors and nurses, upgraded equipment, and a dedicated Controlled Care Center where potentially infectious guests or crew can be cared for away from general medical areas.

What is the response plan if there is a positive case?

In the event any guest or crew tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 onboard, Royal Caribbean has developed a robust, tiered response plan in place, which was developed with guidance from local authorities in Singapore and the Healthy Sail Panel.

The tiers increase protocols and vigilance onboard while providing transparent updates to guests the whole way.

In partnership with local authorities, Royal Caribbean has developed transport protocols to ensure they can get guests home safely.  These transport agreements in Singapore are part of the plan to avoid being "stuck" on a cruise ship.

Quarantine & isolation

While the Royal Promise does not cover what happens specifically once there is a case onboard, the Healthy Sail Panel recommendations provides more detail.

First, the Panel recommends Royal Caribbean should designate certain cabins on the ship as isolation and quarantine spaces.

Based on the person's exposure risk, symptoms, etc, the medical staff can determine whether, when, and where an individual should be isolated or quarantined.

In addition, the Panel echoes Royal Caribbean's tiered response plan by defining small-, moderate-, and large-scale debarkation scenarios in advance of cruising, including a clear decision-making process to guide thinking about when the threshold has been met for each risk level.

Moreover, the cruise line should establish offsite incident management with designated medical professionals’ advice to respond rapidly and to aid in decision-making.

Costs

Should the need arise, Royal Caribbean will cover COVID-19-related costs up to $25,000 SGD ($20,000 USD) per person in your travel party, for onboard medical costs, cost of any required quarantine, and travel home.

If you test positive for COVID-19 when you are onboard, Royal Caribbean will provide a 100% refund of the price of your cruise for you and your travelling party.

In addition, the cruise line will provide your medical treatment onboard, arrange safe quarantine for you, and make arrangements for your safe return home.

Royal Caribbean does encourage its guests to take out comprehensive travel insurance for any supplementary costs, in accordance with our standard booking conditions.

Three things Royal Caribbean needs to go right for cruises to resume in the U.S.

In:
Category: 
12Oct2020

While Royal Caribbean announced it will restart cruises in Singapore, the big question is when will they be able to cruise again from the United States?

The next couple of weeks could be a moment of truth for the industry. In order for cruises to resume sooner than later in the USA, at least three key things have to go Royal Caribbean's way.

Based on comments from last week's meeting with the cruise lines and Vice President Mike Pence, here are the three big things that have to fall into place for Royal Caribbean.

No outbreaks on ships in Europe

There are limited cruises operating in Europe (including Royal Caribbean's partial subsidiary TUI Cruises), and how well they do is very important to cruises having any chance in the United States.

If we start to see an outbreak on any of the European sailings, they are using the same safety protocols that cruise lines hope to employ here in the United States. A problem there would create significant cause for concern for cruises to safely operate there.

Thus far, European cruises have operated with limited issues. The "system" has to work well there for there to be proof that something similar can work in the United States.

No dramatic rise in the case count in Florida

Another potential impact to restart plans is if the home of Royal Caribbean's major cruise ports sees a lot of cases around the state, which would put the healthcare infrastructure at risk.

The cruise lines are going to be watching that case count very closely in Florida, as that is where the industry want to initially restart sailings.

Despite the fact Royal Caribbean has pledged 100% testing of its passengers and crew, a rising case count is not good for any business and the cruise lines need a stable situation at home.

The CDC will either lift or extend its ban

Perhaps the most critical step for Royal Caribbean is the end of the prohibition against cruises operating from the United States.

Closer to the end of October, U.S. Center for Disease Control will make the decision to extend or lift the No Sail order

In the meantime, the cruise operators are in the process of bringing back a lot of their crew to ensure that if they do get the green light from the CDC, that they have a staff available to set sail.

One of the major takeaways from the meeting last week was the cruise line's proposal will be presented to the Task Force in order to provide a recommendation to President Donald Trump with regard to next steps on the CDC’s No Sail Order.

A lot of what happens over the next couple of weeks could factor into what happens to the No Sail order.

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.

Where and when will you have to wear a mask on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

In:
Category: 
09Oct2020

Perhaps no other new protocol for cruise ship guests is as hotly debated as the role masks will play when cruises resume.

Wearing a mask has unfortunately become a divisive topic, and many RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers have voiced their disdain (or indifference) to wearing a mask once cruises resume.

With Royal Caribbean releasing its new Royal Promise health protocols, here is a look at what the new rules say about wearing a mask onboard.

Masks will be required

Wearing a mask in some, but not all, areas of the cruise ship will be compulsory when cruises resume in Singapore (and elsewhere eventually) in December.

All guests and crew will be required to wear a mask onboard.

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

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

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

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

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

Types of masks not allowed

Not every kind of mask will be allowed, with the cruise line following CDC recommendations.

CDC recommends that masks have two or more layers, be worn over the nose and mouth, be worn by individuals two years of age and older, and should not be worn by children younger than two, people who have trouble breathing, or people who cannot remove the mask without assistance.

The following type of masks are not allowed on Royal Caribbean:

  • neck gaiters
  • open chin bandanas and scarves
  • face masks with valves

How will Royal Caribbean enforce face mask protocols?

You will find safety ambassadors on its cruise ships who will be tasked with enforcing the Guest Health, Safety, and Conduct Policy as well as the cruise line Refusal to Transport Policy.

Shoreside, safety ambassador teams will work with local authorities to enforce both our Guest Health, Safety, and Conduct Policy and any applicable laws.

Failure to follow any of our policies or any applicable laws may result in enforcement action, up to and including denial of boarding or removal from Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

Masks are a temporary change

If having to wear a mask on a cruise is a deal breaker for you, then the good news is it is not intended to be a permanent change.

The Healthy Sail Panel recognizes that as disease prevalence goes down, face covering requirements may be loosened over time based on the latest available scientific data, public health agency recommendations, and risk modeling.

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain spoke about the need for masks initially, "It is one of the single most effective things you can do to reduce the transmission of this disease. And at least when we start, it will be an important part of the process."

"There are people who object to doing so and won't do so, but we will make sure they understand that that is, at least in the beginning, a part of the experience. And if they don't want to wear a mask, then they shouldn't come on the cruise."

"At least in the beginning, it will be an important part of our protocols on board. And I think a lot of people understand the need to protect against transmission on board."

Royal Caribbean will not have a dinner buffet option on first cruises back

In:
Category: 
08Oct2020

The first Royal Caribbean cruises that restart in Singapore in December will feature a few less experiences and venues.

Royal Caribbean indicated that certain onboard venues or experiences will operate differently or not be available at all, at least initially.

Specifically, Royal Caribbean states on its website that the Windjammer buffet will not be open for dinner while there is reduced capacity onboard.

Buffets will now be served by crew rather than self-service, and more covered or wrapped grab-and-go items will be made available for your convenience at buffets and cafes around the ship.

In addition, reservations for the Windjammer buffet will be recommended, but not completely necessary. Royal Caribbean says they will "gladly" accommodate walk-ins when availability permits, but reservations are recommended for the Windjammer buffet due to limited capacity.

In addition, while most onboard experiences will be operating normally, some will not due to health concerns including:

  • Laser Tag
  • Parades
  • Themed parties
  • Karaoke

All venues will be operating with reduced capacity (mirroring the reduced capacity of the ship) to allow for physical distancing, and some will operate with adjusted or extended hours.

All restaurant seating will be arranged to allow for physical distancing, so guests can eat and drink without face masks while seated, and tables and chairs will be disinfected regularly.

All crew will wear face masks and gloves at all times.

Restaurants and bars will feature QR codes that will let you view menus right on your phone.

Protocols will change over time

If this sounds awful, fret not, because Royal Caribbean has said repeatedly that it intends to change and evolve these policies over time.

The first cruises back will have the most stringent rules, but many of these sort of protocols are not expected to be permanent.

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain recently confirmed these sort of changes are not forever, "At least in the beginning, it will be an important part of our protocols on board. And I think a lot of people understand the need to protect against transmission on board."

Many of the 74 recommendations are labeled as a temporary change that could be modified or removed later.

Royal Caribbean recognizes that what is happening today in the world can be drastically different than next month or six months from now. As a result, many of the policies are meant to at some point be discontinued over time.

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