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Royal Caribbean announces test cruise ship volunteers sweepstakes begins on Friday

In:
04Aug2021

Royal Caribbean will hold a sweepstakes for those that want to go on a test cruise for free later this week.

As cruise ships return to service in the United States, they must undergo a test cruise so that the ship can be approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Royal Caribbean posted a teaser on Facebook that the Volunteers of the Seas sweepstakes opens this Friday, August 6.

No other details were shared regarding which ships or when these test cruise(s) might be held.

Here are the official eligibility rules so far we can expect.

No purchase necessary. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. /D.C. Excluding MT, age 18+ (19+ in AL and NE, 21+ in MS). Void in MT, outside the 50 U.S. /DC, and where prohibited. Starts 12:00:01 AM ET on August 6, 2021; ends 12:00:01 AM ET on August 7, 2021. Total ARV for all 1,125 Grand Prize(s): $731,250. For full Official Rules see bio. Prize excludes transportation to and from the vessel and hotel accommodations. Sponsor: Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

On the Volunteers of the Seas Facebook page, the cruise line added, "Stay tuned here for more information on how to enter and your chance to join us on a Simulated Voyage."

It sounds like anyone interested in winning a spot on a test cruise might have to register again for this particular sweepstakes.

Read moreHere's what it looks like if Royal Caribbean invites you to volunteer for a test cruise

Royal Caribbean started taking registrations for test cruisers back in November 2020, and quickly amassed a list of well over 300,000 registrations.

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.

This is the first real opportunity to get on a ship since the group was created.

The first test cruises were limited to cruise line employees, but over the last few recent test cruises, Royal Caribbean has begun inviting members of the public.  Travel agents, top tier Crown and Anchor members, and members of the media have been invited to join other cruise line employees in the testing.

Friday's sweepstakes would possibly be the first opportunity for members of the general public to secure a spot for a test sailing.

In addition to demonstrating to the CDC the viability of new health protocols, Royal Caribbean is using these test sailings to prepare the vessel and crew members before revenue sailings begin.

Read moreEverything you need to know about Royal Caribbean test cruises

Thus far, 7 test sailings have occurred, with Mariner of the Seas on August 11 and Oasis of the Seas on August 22 publicly known as upcoming test cruises.

There could be other test sailing dates, but they have not been announced publicly.

Royal Caribbean sees strong demand for cruises despite temporary Delta variant concerns

In:
Category: 
04Aug2021

The road to recovery for Royal Caribbean Group has not been an easy one, but the company told Wall Street analysts today that it sees positive signs ahead.

During the company's second quarter earnings call, cruise executives talked about many facets of the restart process, as well challenges they face getting there. Certainly there are many concerns in the market related to the Delta variant, but Royal Caribbean Group seemed confident these were short-term issues.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley characterized these concerns as an interim issue, but not stopping them from booking.

"I think customers now see this for what it is, it's a it's a blip and a bump," Mr. Bayley said while talking about the booking environment right now. 

"I think we feel encouraged by the protocols that we've got in place."

In fact, even when there are Covid cases on ships, the spread is limited due to the strong protocols in place, "We've been very encouraged to see that when we do have a positive Covid case on board our ships, we very quickly contact trace test. And what we find is that very often you may have a occur with positive either from a vaccinated or unvaccinated cast, and they'll be in the very same room with somebody who's vaccinated and they test negative."

"So the vaccines are really working."

In the month of July, Royal Caribbean sailed with around 92% guests vaccinated, which was while the cruise line still allowed guests ages 12 to 16 to sail unvaccinated.

"If there is good news with the Delta variant is that people are becoming far more accustomed to this. If you've got a highly vaccinated population, there's minimal impact," Mr. Bayley explained in talking about why consumers feel safe cruising."

"The feedback we get from our customers is recognition and relief that this is very contained and something that, you know, that's going to pass."

Royal Caribbean Group CFO Jason Liberty indicated the cruise line saw "small variations" due to the Delta variant with closer-in bookings and markets with high case counts.

Booking trends

In the first half of the year, Royal Caribbean Group CFO Jason Liberty said more than 130,000 guests across five brands during the first half of 2021.

While bookings are still below 2019 levels due to in part reduced capacity for 2021 sailings, Royal Caribbean Group has "narrowed the gap" during the second quarter. In fact, they received we received about 50% more bookings in the second quarter than during the previous three months.

"By June, we were receiving about 90% more bookings each week when compared to Q1," Mr. Liberty explained while going through the numbers. "The bookings for 2022 are practically back to twenty nineteen levels."

He also said July was their second highest booking month of the year.

When will they break even?

Royal Caribbean Group reported another quarter with losses measured in the billions of dollars, so when will the company finally break even?

Mr. Liberty said based on how things look, they could reach break even on a cashflow standpoint in six months, "Based off of what we're seeing the ramp up of our business, I think we will see ourselves be cash flow positive in about six months as we ramp up the business."

Increasing capacity

What is Royal Caribbean's plan to increase passenger capacity as ships return to service?

Right now, ships are sailing with extremely low capacity, but there is a plan to start ramping that up.

Mr. Liberty explained capacity will go up monthly, "Our plan is for our load factors to steadily increase from one month to the next."

"After a few weeks of getting these ships up and running, we're getting to occupancy levels in which the ships are accretive to our our overall cash position."

Guests want to know when ships will sail again

Royal Caribbean announced yeserday its plan when and how it will bring back all of its cruise ships, which was met with a lot of enthusiasm in the form of new bookings.

Mr. Bayley says the announcement of ships returning with a firm plan is important to consumers, and that is directly tied to bookings.

"We literally have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of customers who are simply waiting for the confirmation."

"When we last announced return to service confirmation at the beginning of June. that's when we saw a really significant increase in bookings. And I think the announcement that we made yesterday should also receive a significant amount of interest."

"If you go on social media, people are there waiting. They're waiting for the confirmation. And yesterday, we gave confirmation on the remaining fleet. So we feel quite optimistic about that."

Royal Caribbean announces restart plans for remaining cruise ships

In:
Category: 
03Aug2021

Royal Caribbean has laid out its plans for the rest of the fleet on when and where ships will resume sailing again.

While Royal Caribbean has restarted successfully a number of ships this summer, many sailings were in question without a firm restart date.

The cruise line shared restart plans for its cruise ships which were still in limbo as Royal Caribbean slowly restarts sailings.

The new restart plan encompasses 13 cruise ships, extending into Spring 2022.

Each ship now returning will cruise with the health measures that have safeguarded the well-being of guests, crew and destination communities to date across other ships in Alaska, Asia, The Bahamas, the Caribbean and Europe.

Here is what Royal Caribbean has announced for its restart:

Oasis of the Seas  7-night Bahamas cruises from Cape Liberty, New Jersey, starting Sept. 5; and 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Miami, beginning November

Liberty of the Seas 7-night Western Caribbean cruises from Galveston, Texas, starting Oct. 3

Serenade of the Seas  4- and 5-night Western Caribbean cruises from Tampa, Florida, starting Oct. 16; and 7-night Caribbean itineraries, beginning December

Explorer of the Seas 7-night Southern Caribbean sailings from San Juan, Puerto Rico, starting Nov. 7

Navigator of the Seas 3-, 4- and 5-night Catalina Island, California, and Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico cruises from Los Angeles, beginning Nov. 19

Grandeur of the Seas 7- and 14-night Southern Caribbean sailings from Bridgetown, Barbados, starting Dec. 5

Ovation of the Seas 2- to 10-night domestic itineraries in Australia from Sydney, beginning Dec. 13

Brilliance of the Seas 4- and 5-night Bahamas and Western Caribbean cruises from Tampa, starting Dec. 16

Enchantment of the Seas  8-night Bahamas sailings, and select 12-night cruises to the Southern Caribbean from Baltimore, starting Dec. 23

Vision of the Seas 10- and 11-night Southern Caribbean itineraries from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, beginning Jan. 24, 2022

Voyager of the Seas 7- and 9-night cruises in Northern Europe from Barcelona, Spain, starting April 15, 2022

Radiance of the Seas 7-night Alaska sailings from Vancouver, Canada, beginning April 29, 2022

Rhapsody of the Seas 7-night Mediterranean and Greek Isles itineraries, sailing from Rome starting May 23, 2022

All other ships have either restarted cruises, or have plans to restart cruises this summer.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley celebrated plans to restart all the ships, "We are excited and appreciative to be able to say with confidence when all of our ships will return, especially for travelers looking ahead to plan their getaways. More than 110,000 guests have cruised with us since December, and they’ve done so safely while enjoying the memorable vacations they trust we’ll bring to life."

"It’s been incredible to see families come together again on board our ships sailing in the U.S., the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. And to know we’ll soon welcome more in a safe manner when our entire fleet is back by spring 2022 is wonderful."

Redeployments

Booked guests currently confirmed on the below sailings will be automatically moved to the corresponding sailing on the newly redeployed ship.  Should guests no longer wish to sail due to this change, refunds can be requested through August 24, 2021.

Brilliance of the Seas departing Oct 16 – Dec 6, 2021 to be moved to like-for-like sailing on Serenade of the Seas departing Tampa (Dec 6 sailing now 4N vs prior 5N sailing).

Radiance of the Seas departing Oct 1, 2021 to be moved to Serenade of the Seas on same sail date (now 13N sailing vs. prior 14N sailing).

Rhapsody of the Seas departing Dec 14, 2021 – Feb 19, 2022 to be moved to like-for-like sailing on Serenade of the Seas departing Tampa.

New cancellations

In conjunction with the restart plan announcement, Royal Caribbean also announced a new series of cruise cancellations to make way for the restart.

  • Anthem of the Seas departing Southampton: October 20, 2021 
  • Brilliance of the Seas departing Tampa: September 4-October 11, 2021; December 11, 2021; March 28-April 25, 2022
  • Enchantment of the Seas departing Baltimore: September 4- December 11, 2021 
  • Explorer of the Seas departing San Juan: October 31, 2021 
  • Harmony of the Seas departing Barcelona: October 31, 2021 
  • Liberty of the Seas departing Galveston: September 26, 2021 
  • Ovation of the Seas departing Sydney: October 27, 2021- April 10, 2022
  • Radiance of the Seas departing Miami: October 15, 2021- April 10, 2022
  • Rhapsody of the Seas departing Tampa: February 26- April 16, 2022
  • Serenade of the Seas departing Sydney: October 24, 2021- February 27, 2022
  • Vision of the Seas departing San Juan/Fort Lauderdale: September 5, 2021- January 14, 2022

Summer restart

The restart plan builds upon the ships that have either already resumed sailings, or are scheduled to later this summer.

Here is a list of those ships that already had restart plans announced by the cruise line:

  • Adventure of the Seas from Nassau, Bahamas, beginning June 12, 2021
  • Freedom of the Seas from Miami, Florida, beginning July 2, 2021
  • Anthem of the Seas from Southampton, England, beginning July 7, 2021
  • Jewel of the Seas from Limassol, Cyprus, beginning July 10, 2021
  • Serenade of the Seas from Seattle, Washington, beginning July 19, 2021
  • Odyssey of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida beginning July 31, 2021
  • Allure of the Seas from Port Canaveral, beginning August 8, 2021
  • Ovation of the Seas from Seattle, Washington, beginning August 13, 2021
  • Symphony of the Seas from Miami, Florida, beginning August 14, 2021
  • Independence of the Seas from Galveston, Texas, beginning August 15, 2021
  • Harmony of the Seas from Barcelona and Rome, beginning August 15, 2021
  • Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida, beginning August 23, 2021
  • Quantum of the Seas began sailing in Singapore in December 2020

Royal Caribbean will require a negative Covid-19 test before for all U.S. sailings 5+ nights

In:
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29Jul2021

Royal Caribbean is adding a new requirement for sailings from the United States that will require proof of a negative Covid-19 test result in order to sail.

With increasing Covid-19 case counts around the country, Royal Caribbean has announced the policy change "in an abundance of caution".

All guests over the age of 2 will be required to provide a negative Covid-19 test, regardless of vaccine status, prior to boarding on sailings 5-night or longer.

The new policy is effective for all U.S. sailings between July 31 and August 31.

The test must be administered no more than three days prior to sailing and proof of negative results must be shown at check-in. Either PCR or antigen tests are acceptable.

The results can be printed out, or can be presented on your phone, such as the email result from your test provider. Costs associated with this test are the guests' responsibility.

There are no other changes to requirements and policies previously announced by Royal Caribbean.


Example of the new policy shared on Royal Caribbean's website

In a statement by the cruise line, the change is being done as a precaution, "This is an additional layer of precaution to ensure the safety of everyone onboard. We will continue to monitor public health circumstances as they evolve and make necessary adjustments to our protocols."

Here is a copy of the full statement Royal Caribbean made:

In an abundance of caution, and to ensure that our guests, crew and the communities we visit remain healthy we are requiring all guests over the age of 2, regardless of vaccine status, to provide a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding on sailings 5-night or longer. This new policy is for all sailings in the U.S. from July 31 to August 31. The test must be administered no more than three days prior to sailing and proof of negative results must be shown at check-in.

All other testing requirements and policies are still in place. This is an additional layer of precaution to ensure the safety of everyone onboard. We will continue to monitor public health circumstances as they evolve and make necessary adjustments to our protocols.

Prior to this change, unvaccinated passengers were required to get multiple Covid-19 tests, but not vaccinated passengers.

Unvaccinated passengers were required to get tested at the terminal prior to embarkation and onboard prior to disembarkation.

Royal Caribbean requires negative test results for passengers sailing on Adventure of the Seas from Nassau, Bahamas, but this is the first time since sailings restarted that a test result for all passengers has been implemented in the United States.

For at least cruises on sailings this weekend, there may be a short-term option to get tested near the cruise port.

Guests sailing on Odyssey of the Seas for the July 31st sailing will have an option to show up to the port and get off-site testing completed nearby. It is not clear which other sailings will have this opportunity as well.

The cruise industry is not the only business making changes to ensure the safety of their customers.

Walt Disney World announced this week it would require face masks again for its customers while indoors, and Lollapalooza will require either proof of vaccination or a negative test for the viral infection within the past three days.

Despite Florida's legal victory, Royal Caribbean will continue to follow CDC cruise ship recommendations

In:
Category: 
26Jul2021

A reversal of fortunes in the ongoing legal case between the State of Florida and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) means the Conditional Sail Order (CSO) is no longer a requirement, but Royal Caribbean will still voluntarily follow these guidelines.

Late on Friday last week, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed its decision and let stand a lower court order prohibiting the CDC's CSO rules.  Essentially, the CSO is now a recommendation instead of a requirement for cruise ships sailing out of Florida.

A few hours after the news broke, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley posted on social media that his cruise line would not deviate from the CDC's regulations.

"We will continue to voluntarily follow all CDC guidelines and recommendations," he posted along with the news of the court's decision.

This means Royal Caribbean will continue to conduct test cruises, and work with the CDC in ensuring the onboard protocols meet the federal agency's requirements.

While the CSO may not be a requirement for ships sailing out of Florida, it is still a requirement for ships sailing from other states, such as Texas or Washington.

What is the Conditional Sail Order?

The Conditional Sail Order is a phased approach for cruise lines to follow in order to get ships approved to sail from the United States again.

On October 30, 2020, the CDC imposed a four-phase conditional framework it said would allow the cruise industry to gradually resume operations if certain milestones were met.

Phases of the CSO include securing agreements with the ports a cruise ship sails from and how the port, health district and cruise lines plan to respond in the event of an outbreak with medical care, transportation and housing, if needed. 

Also required under the CSO are enhanced testing labs on cruise ships, simulated passenger cruises, and various onboard and port side safety procedures.

Florida sued the CDC because Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) felt the CSO imposed onerous bureaucratic requirements on the industry, such as requiring proof of a vaccine for passengers and that cruise ships conduct a simulated voyage before embarking passengers.

As a result of Florida's legal victory over the CDC in June, the CSO is now a non-binding consideration, recommendation or guideline for ships sailing from Florida ports.

"Florida persuasively claims that the conditional sailing order will shut down most cruises through the summer and perhaps much longer,” the U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday wrote in his decision, adding that Florida "faces an increasingly threatening and imminent prospect that the cruise industry will depart the state."

The judge intended his decision to align the CSO with other CDC guidelines for the reopening of other industries such as airlines, casinos, hotels, sports venues and subways.

CDC will enforce mask mandate for cruises despite court lifting cruise ship restrictions

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24Jul2021

While Florida may have won its lawsuit against the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to drop all the coronavirus-related cruise ship rules, the nationwide mask mandate will remain.

The CDC said late on Friday that it will enforce its transit mask requirements on cruise ships in Florida that opt not to abide by its Conditional Sail Order (CSO) following a court ruling.

In February 2021, the CDC instituted an order that requires people to wear masks on public transportation, which includes aircraft, train, road vehicle, vessel or other means of transport.

This is the same rule that requires the airlines to enforce passengers.

Enforcement of the CDC's order on cruise ships will fall to the U.S. Coast Guard.

A report by Reuters indicates the CDC will still require cruise ships to adhere to requirements that are not part of the CDC's CSO, including "reporting of individual cases of illness or death and ship inspections and sanitary measures to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases."

The CDC said it will not relinquish mask requirements it has for in indoor spaces on cruise ships for those lines that are not voluntarily complying with the CSO.

The CDC's announcement came the same day the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals changed its mind and would not block an injunction won by Florida against the CDC meant to lift cruise ship-related rules.

The reversal was because the appeals court feels the federal government failed, "to demonstrate an entitlement to a stay pending appeal."

The result is the CSO is no longer enforceable in Florida, although it remains in effect for other states, such as Texas, Washington, or New York.

Appeals court changes its mind and lifts CDC's cruise ship regulations

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Category: 
23Jul2021

In yet another change, a federal appeals court has reconsidered Florida's win over the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC), and lifted the agency's Conditional Sail Order (CSO) regulations.

Late on Friday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decided to let stand the lower court's ruling in favor for the State of Florida, which removes restrictions on how cruise ships can restart operations.

Last weekend, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals voted to approve the CDC's request to prevent Florida's legal victory from going into effect while the appeals process plays out.

That decision was vacated on Friday, just before Florida asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and reverse the appeals court’s decision.

The reversal was because the appeals court feels the federal government failed, "to demonstrate an entitlement to a stay pending appeal."

The result is the CSO is no longer enforceable in Florida, although it remains in effect for other states, such as Texas, Washington, or New York.

It remains to be seen what, if any, change will occur with the cruise lines. Thus far, no line has announced plans to deviate from the CDC's plan.

The CSO outlines rules for cruise lines on how they can restart operations. Specifically, it requires each ship either guarantee at least 95% of its passengers and 98% of its crew members be fully vaccinated.  Ships that do not adhere to this mandate, must first conduct test cruises before they can sail with paying customers.

The CSO also requires cruise lines to get agreements with each port for how to handle Covid-19 cases, as well as regulate testing onboard.

Florida celebrated its victory swiftyly, "Today, following Florida’s application to the United States Supreme Court, we were excited to see the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reverse its prior order and free the cruise lines from the unlawful CDC mandates," Taryn Fenske, spokesperson for Gov. Ron DeSantis, said in an email.

Florida Governor Ron Desantis sued the CDC in April as a way to combat the CDC holding cruise ships back from restarting cruises.

The CDC instituted a ban on all cruise ships from the United States in March 2020 due to the global health crisis. Then on October 30, 2020 the CDC imposed a four-phase conditional framework it said would allow the industry to gradually resume operations if certain thresholds were met.

Judge Steven D. Merryday ruled on June 18 in favor of the State of Florida in its lawsuit against the CDC to lift the Conditional Sail Order.

The intention of the ruling was to bring cruise ships in line with other forms of leisure travel and entertainment, such as airlines, railroads, hotels, casinos, sports venues, buses, subways, and others.

The CDC appealed the verdict and asked Judge Merryday for a stay to ensure the CSO did not get lifted while the litigation is sorted out in the appeals process.

While the CDC believes its regulations provides a framework based on the best available scientific evidence, Judge Merryday believes the agency overstepped its powers.

He said the CDC's actions were more than just about public health, "this action is not about what health precautions against COVID-19 are necessary or helpful aboard a cruise ship; this action is about the use and misuse of governmental power."

As a result, the CSO is now a recommendation rather than a requirement.

Florida asks U.S. Supreme Court to overrule appeals court protection of cruise ship order

In:
Category: 
23Jul2021

The tennis match between Florida and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continued again on Friday, with Florida looking to get the highest legal assistance possible.

Florida's Attorney General petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to essentially override the 11th Circuit decision to hold off on Florida's legal victory against the CDC to lift the Conditional Sail Order (CSO) while the appeals process plays out.

On Friday, Florida appealed to thee Supreme Court following the  an appellate court panel granted the CDC's appeal to delay the injunction.

Florida asked the Supreme Court to lift the appeals court order warning without action. "Florida is all but guaranteed to lose yet another summer cruise season while the CDC pursues its appeal," the state said in its filing to the Supreme Court.

In June, a federal judge ruled that the CDC had misused its governmental powers and as a result, granted Florida an injunction against the CSO.

The injunction would move the CDC's rules for cruise ships to be a consideration, instead of a requirement, similar to other industries, such as airlines, railroads, hotels, casinos, sports venues, buses, subways, and others.

The CDC first appealed to the judge in the case, who denied that request, but Circuit Court of the 11th District granted a stay.

In March 2020, the CDC instituted a ban on all cruise ships from the United States due to the global health crisis.

Florida Governor Ron Desantis sued the CDC in April 2021 as a way to combat the CDC holding cruise ships back from restarting cruises.

A federal judge agreed with Florida, saying the CDC can show no factor that outweighs the need to conclude an unwarranted and unprecedented exercise of governmental power.

The judge also said the CDC's claim that their actions are about protecting the public health was wrong, "this action is not about what health precautions against COVID-19 are necessary or helpful aboard a cruise ship; this action is about the use and misuse of governmental power."

Florida's legal victory was set to take effect on July 18, but the 11th Circuit's decision held that back while the CDC appeals the original verdict.

Read moreWhy the court ruling in favor of the CDC doesn't really change anything

Here's what it looks like if Royal Caribbean invites you to volunteer for a test cruise

In:
Category: 
21Jul2021

Royal Caribbean is asking regular people to volunteer to help go one of the cruise line's test sailings.

Before Royal Caribbean's cruise ships can restart operations, the line needs people to go on simulated voyages as a volunteer and help test out the new Covid-19 protocols and rules.

Some of the first invitations to top tier Crown and Anchor Society members, as well as travel agents, are starting to be sent out via email.

The first test sailings Royal Caribbean conducted were comprised of Royal Caribbean employees who volunteered their time to help out.  But the cruise line is now asking regular people to do test sailings to help get ships back into service.

We now have our first look at what an invitation to a test cruise looks like.

A RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader was selected to sail on the Ovation of the Seas test cruise from Seattle to Alaska at the end of this month.

In case you were wondering, the anonymous person selected for this test cruise is a travel agent, Platinum Crown and Anchor Society member, and signed up to be a volunteer the very first day Royal Caribbean publicized the opportunity.

Ovation will sail a 5-night simulated voyage to Ketchikan, beginning on July 30. If all goes well, her first revenue sailing is scheduled for August 13.

Only volunteers 18 years of age or older, who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, are eligible to join.  One guest in the room must be at least 21 years old.

The two pieces of identification test cruisers need are a valid Passport book or Passport card, and hard-copy of vaccination card as proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 using an FDA or WHO authorized vaccine.

These test cruises are mandated by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC), and volunteers are required to be notified of the riskiness of being part of a test cruise.

"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires this written notification to advise all volunteer passengers that they are participating in health and safety protocols that are unproven and untested in the United States for purposes of simulating a cruise ship voyage and that sailing during a pandemic is an inherently risky activity. "

In the email sent to volunteers that are picked for a given test sailing, the registration system is on a first-come, first served basis, and the faster you sign up, the better your chance of getting a room.  People that take longer to sign up will be put on a wait list.

"Registration will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis and will be capacity controlled. Should the event reach the desired capacity, the registration tool will indicate such and grant you the ability to join our waitlist."

Here are some of the more interesting rules for volunteers who opt to cruise.

Invitations to register for test sailings are non-transferable.

Each guest will be granted one double occupancy stateroom to invite a guest of his/her choice.

Staterooms will be assigned at random and cannot be preselected nor changed once confirmed.

Certain volunteers will be designated as “unvaccinated” to aid in simulating protocols for unvaccinated guests. Volunteers designated as “unvaccinated” will need to undergo COVID-19 testing and may be restricted from entering certain venues.

There will be limited opportunities to dine in specialty restaurants at a 50% discount.

Room service will be available. Breakfast is complimentary and all-day menu will be available for extra charge.

Beverages will be available to purchase at 50% off once onboard. Beverage packages will not be available.

Shore excursions will be available to reserve at 35% off.

VOOM Internet will be available at a 50% discount.

Photo purchases available at a 50% discount for Printed Photos, Digitals and Retail (electronics excluded).

Retail shops and Spa services will be available.

The standard daily gratuity charge will be automatically added to each volunteer’s SeaPass account once onboard.

Masks

  • While onboard, masks will be required in indoor spaces, unless actively eating or drinking
  • Masks not required in venues designated as vaccinated-only.
  • Masks not required in your stateroom
  • Masks not needed in pool area or for activities where they could become wet
  • Masks are not required outdoors, unless in a crowded setting

Why is Royal Caribbean doing test cruises?

Some have wondered why Royal Caribbean International did not follow sister brand Celebrity Cruises in mandating 95% of its guests be fully vaccinated, and it has to do with the fact Royal Caribbean International is a family brand.

The simple answer is families, as Royal Caribbean is a family brand and too many children are not eligible yet to be vaccinated. 

Royal Caribbean International's senior vice president of Hotel Operations, Mark Tamis, emphasized the decision to conduct test sailings was an easy one for the cruise line, "When the first set of potential regulations were published, it was such an obvious choice of the path that we had to go down."

"Once there were two clear paths, 95% or under 95%, it wasn’t even really a consideration."

Mr. Tamis called the decision "obvious" given how many kids sail with Royal Caribbean, along with the cruise line's dedication to remaining a family brand. "A good 20 to 25 percent of our guests are kids."

Read moreFamilies and kids are the reason why Royal Caribbean is doing test cruises

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