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Cruises Resuming

Royal Caribbean Group CEO celebrates cruise ships sailing again

In:
14Jul2021

Cruise ships are sailing again from North America and Europe, and it has the top executive at the Royal Caribbean Group quite happy.

Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO, shared a new video update with travel agents on Wednesday, celebrating that twenty one ships in his company are now back in the water and offering cruises.

Mr. Fain returned recently from sailing on Celebrity Edge and Freedom of the Seas, and sees a positive outlook for the industry, despite some challenges.

Thus far, the 21 ships sailing break down as follows:

  • 5 from Royal Caribbean International
  • 6 from Celebrity Cruises
  • 2 from SilverSea
  • 5 from TUI Cruises
  • 3 from Hapag-Lloyd

Getting so many ships back into service was no simple task, and Mr. Fain talked about how they got things moving, "I've been asked why our restart is happening so fast, how we are getting so many of our ships sailing so quickly.

"The answer is simple. We believed in our people, and we believed in the science. We prepared, we started preparing early because we knew what was happening and because we wanted to get the flywheel of demand going early."

"I've never seen the level of enthusiasm, of excitement and of gratitude that I've experienced on these cruises," Mr. Fain said after being able to sail again.

Mr. Fain saw equal enthusiasm from guests and from crew members. He said crew members saw the return of cruising as a "literal lifeline" after months of no work.  Guests celebrated the return of cruising as a way to escape all the isolation and letdowns of the past months.

The cruise industry is far from clear of any concerns or dangers to their businesses, but Mr. Fain said there will always be challenges to overcome, "There are always immediate issues. Covid-19 is not going away, but it is slowly getting under better control."

"The vast majority of people onboard our ships are vaccinated. And this percentage will only climb. In addition, the testing regimens and the available therapies mean that cruising can properly aspire to be not only as safe as other vacations, but more so."

According to Mr. Fain, that is not to say that they are disregarding thing such as the delta variant, "We shouldn't ignore the present challenges. We should be concerned about the recent increase in cases and the impact of the variants."

"We need to manage today carefully. But if we only obsess about the present, we will fail to prepare for the future and we must keep our eye firmly on that future that we can all see is coming."

NCL sues Florida over vaccine passport ban

In:
Category: 
13Jul2021

Florida is now on the receiving end of a lawsuit regarding the cruise industry restarting.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) has sued the State of Florida because of its ban on companies operating within the state asking customers if they are vaccinated or not.

In May, Florida passed a new law that among other things, bans Covid-19 vaccine passports in the state.

The ban prohibits businesses, schools, and government agencies from requiring people to show documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccinations or post-infection recovery before gaining entry.

The bill took effect on July 1, 2021.

Hat tip to The Points Guy for alerting us to this news.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court on Tuesday by NCLH and is directed at Florida's Surgeon General, Scott Rivkees.

In the lawsuit, NCLH wants an injunction against the state law.

According to Norwegian, the law prevents them from operating cruise ships safely, "NCLH is doing so as a last resort after the State of Florida has indicated that it is otherwise preventing NCLH from safely and soundly resuming passenger cruise operations from Miami, Florida, starting August 15, 2021, in the way that this cruise line has determined will be best for all concerned—with the benefit of documentation confirming that all of its passengers and crew have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19."

NCLH believes the law puts them, "in an impossible dilemma" to operate sailings from Florida.  In their view, they would either have to be "on the wrong side of health and safety" or on the wrong side of Florida law.

As a result, the lawsuit is the cruise line's only option.

Violating Florida's law and asking for proof of vaccination would cost the company $5,000 per passenger in fines.

If the injunction is not granted, Norwegian would not be able to offer cruises from Florida, which would be a "devastating, unrecoverable loss for everyone" including the cruise line, as well as tens of thousands of passengers, employees, and stakeholders who rely on the cruise industry.

As of July 9, the CDC approved the Norwegian Gem to begin sailings, and Norwegian's plan is for requiring proof that 100% of passengers and crew have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

In addition to living up to the requirements of federal law, which require at least 95% of cruise ship passengers to be fully vaccinated, NCLH believes the "potential spread of the severe and highly contagious Delta variant is another factor driving NCLH’s decision to require 100% vaccination on its voyages."

"If the Florida Ban is enforced against NCLH, however, these voyages will be placed at risk of cancellation, disruption, and possible COVID-19 outbreak, resulting in a substantial loss of revenue, losses of wages for NCLH’s crew, harm to NCLH’s brand, goodwill, and reputation with past and potential passengers, as well as substantial, adverse impacts on interstate and foreign commerce. Worst of all, human life and safety would be placed at undue risk."

How is Florida's ban affecting Royal Caribbean?

Unlike Norwegian, Royal Caribbean is not seeking all, or even 95% of its cruise passengers, be fully vaccinated.

Instead, Royal Caribbean came up with specific rules for cruise ships sailing from Florida ports, where it is up to the guest to voluntarily inform the cruise line they are vaccinated.

As a workaround, guests are given an online form to optionally disclose if they vaccinated.

If the guest states they are not vaccinated, or does not answer, Royal Caribbean will treat them as an unvaccinated passenger.

Unvaccinated passengers may not have access to all venues onboard a ship, such as certain restaurants, bars, or lounges.

Unvaccinated passengers get a hole punched in their SeaPass card, while fully vaccinated passengers wear a wristband to easily identify them as vaccinated to other guests and crew.

In other states that Royal Caribbean is planning to sail from, vaccine mandates are in place.

Royal Caribbean will begin picking volunteers to go on test cruises

In:
Category: 
13Jul2021

Your chance to help test out a Royal Caribbean cruise ship as it prepares to return to service might be coming soon.

Royal Caribbean posted on Facebook that it will begin picking randomly from its list of well over a quarter of a million volunteers to come aboard a test cruise.

The cruise line has received over 350,000 registrations from cruise fans who would love to go on a complimentary cruise in exchange for testing out new health protocols onboard.

According to Royal Caribbean's post, they will pick the lucky folks this week, and invite them to go on an upcoming simulated voyage.

Test cruises are mandated sailings by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) that are necessary before a ship can be approved to sail with paying passengers again.

Thus far, two Royal Caribbean cruise ships have conducted test sailings, Freedom of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas.

At least five more test sailings are scheduled between now and the end of July, with another two very likely.

  • Allure of the Seas – July 27 from Port Canaveral
  • Symphony of the Seas – Aug. 1 from PortMiami
  • Independence of the Seas –  Aug. 1 from Port of Galveston
  • Mariner of the Seas – Aug. 11 from Port Canaveral
  • Oasis of the Seas – Aug. 22 from Cape Liberty
  • Ovation of the Seas no date set, but CDC just waiting on confirmation from Royal Caribbean it has installed its laboratory testing equipment and tested its crew
  • Odyssey of the Seas planned out of Port Everglades (Royal Caribbean International to provide sailing dates)

Read moreEverything you need to know about Royal Caribbean test cruises

"The time is here," Royal Caribbean announced with excitement. "This week we’ll be randomly selecting and extending invites to registered Volunteers to participate in upcoming simulation cruises."

If you have already applied, keep checking your email "in the coming days" for an invite.

If you haven't registered yet, please do so at: https://bit.ly/VolunteersoftheSeas.

Royal Caribbean will shut down new registrations for test cruises tonight, July 13, 2021, at 11:59 PM EST.

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

Who is eligible for a test cruise?

The minimum requirements to be a volunteer will be you must be 18 or older, as well as have written proof the person has no pre-existing medical conditions that would place them at high-risk for Covid-19.

Top questions Royal Caribbean hasn't answered yet about its restart plans

In:
Category: 
12Jul2021

For 15 months, cruise fans were left wondering when cruises would actually restart.  While that restart is now happening, some questions remain about what to expect going forward.

To be fair, most of these questions have no answers because even Royal Caribbean may not know realistically what to expect, but they remain some of the most frequently asked questions among people who have cruises booked.

If you are as excited as I am about cruises restarting, you might also be tracking these issues. 

The good news, is you are not missing the answer somewhere, but unfortunately there are no answers yet.

Will there be more cruise cancellations?

There are more and more ships restarting, but more cruise cancellations are not out of the question either.

Sailings from Seattle, Galveston and Florida are starting up, but most of the fleet is still sitting idle. So will there be more cruise cancellations, and when can we expect to hear about them?

Australia is going to be shutdown for a while, but even within the scope of North America, when will the parade of cancelled cruises finally come to an end?

How limited is the capacity?

On ships that have restarted, Royal Caribbean has provided no specific guidance for how many passengers each ship will be limited to.

Before any sailings restarted, Royal Caribbean talked in general terms about limited capacity starting out around 40-60%, but some of the early sailings on Freedom of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas appeared to be slightly under that threshold.

So what should cruisers expect in terms of limited capacity for cruises this summer or fall? 

When will limited capacity end?

Piggy-backing on the last question, how long will ships be running at limited capacity?

Not only is Royal Caribbean looking to get its ships back into service, but the company is looking to return to profitability, and that only happens when all of their ships are operating at near peak capacity.

It is anyone's guess how long ships will remain at a limited capacity, although guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) as well as the state of the Covid-19 threat will play a major factor in that decision.

What will the health protocols be like this fall, winter or next year?

Besides limited capacity, many cruisers are eager to know what it will be like onboard when they sail in September and beyond.

Royal Caribbean has released health protocols for July and August, but it is difficult to know what rules will be in place going forward.

Just like limited capacity, the exact protocols may be dictated by where things stand with the global health crisis.

When will the rest of the ships in the fleet restart?

You may have read about scheduled test cruises for a half dozen ships, but what about the other ships in the fleet?

Thus far, we don't know when many ships will be scheduled for test cruises, revenue sailings, or in what order. Royal Caribbean appears to have outlined its summer restart plans, and will see how those go before announcing other options.

Just like the ships sailing this summer, Royal Caribbean plans their cards close to the vest, and that means they will not divulge plans until they are pretty much firmed up.

Cruise fans who love to cruise from ports like Baltimore, San Juan, or Tampa are equally interested to know when ships will return to their homeports.

Read moreLive on Royal Caribbean's first cruise ship to restart from the United States

When will The Key be offered again?

One of the most popular add-ons you can buy for a cruise is The Key, and it has been missing in action since the restart began.

The Key is a program open to guests who wish to pay for added perks and benefits, such as priority embarkation, special access to signature activities, and more.

The Key is very popular among those new to the cruise line, and it is not clear yet when it might come back in the short term.

Read moreHere’s what ‘The Key’ is (and why some cruisers like it)

When will online check-in open for my cruise?

Before the cruise industry shutdown, online check-in always opened at 90 days before sailing, but now when check-in opens up is a surprise.

Online check-in is super important because your check-in time at the terminal matters, and getting a later check-in time means waiting longer to get onboard.

Slowly, online check-in is opening up for more sailings further out, but it is far from standardized across the fleet.

First cruise ship returns to Alaska in two years while on test cruise

In:
10Jul2021

Alaska celebrated the return of the first big cruise ship on Friday with the arrival of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship on a simulated voyage.

Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas pulled into Ketchikan to a warm welcome of state and local dignitaries.

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Lieutenant Governor Kevin Meyer, and City of Ketchikan Mayor Bob Sivertsen joined members from the cruise industry to celebrate Serenade of the Seas being the first large cruise ship to return to Alaska following the suspension of cruise operations due to the pandemic.

While Serenade is there on a test cruise, she represents the return of cruise ship passengers that the Alaskan economy so heavily relies on.

Since cruise operations from U.S. ports were suspended in March 2020, it is estimated that more than 300,000 American jobs have been impacted or lost, with a corresponding loss of over $39 billion in economic activity. 

Nearly 70 percent of the industry’s economic contributions in Alaska benefited local small businesses in 2019 — the highest percentage of any state in the country.

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski spearheaded the effort this year to find a solution for ships to sail from the United States to Alaska this year at a time when Canada had shut its borders to cruise ship traffic.

"I’ve been committed to help bring tourism back for the 2021 season and keep Alaskans afloat through the hardships created by the pandemic," Murkowski said during a press conference at the cruise ship pier.

"I want to thank the other members of the delegation for working with me to get my legislation, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, across the finish line. This legislation made it possible to begin to bring cruise ships back to Alaska – so that our communities can have a productive tourist season."

Royal Caribbean was equally happy to be able to return to Alaska as well. Russell Benford, Vice President, Government Relations, Americas, Royal Caribbean Group spoke about the significance of Serenade of the Seas sailing to Alaska, "Proud, resourceful Alaskan communities, which have endured almost two seasons without cruising, will once again welcome cruise visitors to this magnificent destination and I’m sure Alaskan business owners look forward to reigniting the tourism economy and providing for their families."

According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Nine large cruise ships are currently scheduled to operate in Alaska this year, with 78 sailings to take place through Oct. 21, 2021. 

Royal Caribbean has cruises planned to Alaska on two ships, Serenade of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas.

Assuming she passes her test cruise, Serenade of the Seas is scheduled to begin cruises next week.  Ovation of the Seas' first sailing to Alaska is August 13, although it is not yet known when her test cruise will be.

Royal Caribbean's rules for cruise ships sailing from Florida in August

In:
Category: 
09Jul2021

Royal Caribbean has updated its health protocols for cruise ships sailing from Florida in August.

The line had previously posted some protocols for August sailings, but updated passengers booked onboard with a full set of health protocols, which include face masks, social distancing, vaccine requirements and more.

The new protocols highlights protocols for both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests on sailings departing Florida homeports in August 2021. 

If booked guests do not wish to follow these protocols, Royal Caribbean says they are happy to provide them with a refund or move their sailing into the future when circumstances may have evolved.

     

The cruise line says these new protocols are especially important to unvaccinated children who are between the ages of 2 and 11.

Vaccine requirements

Royal Caribbean says it, "strongly recommends" all guests 12 years and older be fully vaccinated which means:

  • The final dose was given at least 14 days before sailing.
  • Proof of vaccination, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 vaccination record card, will be presented.

Fully vaccinated guests have no further testing or insurance requirements to sail.

Unvaccinated Guests 12 and Older

Guests who are 12 years and older and do not have or are unable to provide vaccination documentation will be considered unvaccinated and will have additional testing at their own expense and must follow health and safety protocols described below, including:

  • Negative results from a pre-arrival PCR test for COVID-19
  • A PCR test at the terminal
  • Onboard antigen testing
  • Mid-cruise antigen test (on 6+ night sailings)
  • Disembarkation antigen test
  • Travel insurance requirements
  • Shore excursions required to visit ports
  • Additional health protocols onboard 

Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 years

Children not yet eligible for the vaccine will undergo additional testing at no additional charge, as well as additional health and safety protocols, including:

  • A PCR test for COVID-19 at the terminal
  • Onboard antigen testing
  • Disembarkation antigen test
  • Shore excursions required to visit port
  • Additional health protocols onboard

Mandatory insurance for unvaccinated adults

As previously reported, each unvaccinated guest 12 years and older departing from a Florida homeport on a Royal Caribbean International cruise must provide proof of a valid insurance policy that has a minimum of

  1. $25,000 per person in medical expense coverage and
  2. $50,000 coverage for emergency medical evacuation and no COVID-19 exclusions.

The insurance policy must name the unvaccinated guest as the policy holder or beneficiary and may be purchased from a travel insurance company of the guest’s choosing or through the Royal Caribbean Travel Protection Program, which includes this coverage. Insurance is required for sailings from August 1 through December 31, 2021 (except for bookings made between March 19, 2021 and June 28, 2021).

Face masks

When indoors, CDC guidelines require all guests 2 years and older to wear masks unless they are actively eating or drinking. 

In designated areas of the ship meant specifically for vaccinated guests only, masks can be removed.

Masks are not required in their stateroom when they are with their traveling party, outside on the open decks, or at Perfect Day at CocoCay, unless in a crowded setting.

Rules for areas of the ship

Dining: For Main Dining, Royal Caribbean will designate areas for everyone, including parents and unvaccinated children, and areas for vaccinated parties only. My Time Dining will not be available to parties that include unvaccinated guests. Some specialty restaurants will be open to everyone, while others will be for vaccinated parties only. If your clients prefer a buffet, Windjammer will be open to everyone for breakfast and lunch, and the food will be served by our crew. Royal Caribbean recommends that you make dining reservations via Cruise Planner before the cruise or the Royal Caribbean app once onboard. Grab-and-go cafes will also be available for everyone. ​

Bars and Lounges: Many bars and lounges will be open to everyone and others will be available to vaccinated guests only. There will be crew stationed nearby and signage to help direct guests.

Casino: Given the casino’s physical constraints, there is not enough space to accommodate everyone. Given most of our adult guests are vaccinated, the casino will be open to vaccinated guests only.

Fitness and Spa: The Fitness Center will have dedicated operating hours for everyone as well as hours reserved for vaccinated guests only. Salon services will be available to everyone but given the enclosed space and longer length of spa services, the treatment rooms used to provide facials, massages and other services will only be available to vaccinated guests.

Entertainment: Entertainment venues will offer spaced seating and more showtimes throughout the cruise. Select showtimes will be for everyone and other showtimes for vaccinated guests only. Reservations can be made once onboard using the Royal Caribbean app.

Diamond Lounge for Loyalty Members: The Diamond Lounge will be open and operating at 50 percent capacity to allow for physical distancing.

Adventure Ocean and Teen Lounges: Youth spaces will be open to all children and teens.

Shore Excursions

Fully vaccinated parties have the choice of booking a shore excursion or visiting freely.

Parties that wish to go ashore and include any unvaccinated guests, including parents traveling with unvaccinated children, must book a shore excursion through Royal Caribbean.

Vaccinated parents wishing to go ashore freely can drop kids off at Adventure Ocean and reserve time for their child on the day they wish to go in port.

Other protocols

Check out health protocols from other ships already announced:

   

Royal Caribbean releases Alaska cruise ship protocols for August sailings

In:
09Jul2021

Royal Caribbean sent guests booked on Alaska cruises in August a list of health protocols to expect onboard its sailings.

As ships are restarting operations, Royal Caribbean is sending out what health protocols for booked passengers on these sailings can expect and typically for each month.

The cruise line says these new protocols are especially important to unvaccinated children who are between the ages of 2 and 11.

This information only applies to sailings departing from Seattle in August 2021.

Vaccine requirements

All guests 12 years and older are required to bring proof of vaccination, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 vaccination record card, with the final dose of the vaccine completed at least 14 days before sailing. 

Testing

At the terminal: Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 years are required to take a PCR test for COVID-19 when checking in at the terminal. Registration details for this test will be sent via email in advance. 

Prior to disembarking: Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 years are required to take an antigen test onboard within 24 hours of the end of voyage. Vaccinated guests who require an antigen or PCR test for entry into their destination country may receive one onboard at no charge. Registration details will be provided during the cruise. 

Face masks

When indoors, CDC guidelines require all guests 2 years and older to wear masks unless they are actively eating or drinking.

The CDC makes allowances for guests to remove their masks in venues and events dedicated to fully vaccinated parties. Royal Caribbean says vaccinated guests will find "plenty of these opportunities".

Masks are not required in your client's stateroom when they are with their traveling party or outside on the open decks, unless in a crowded setting. Updates will be shared as changes to CDC mask guidelines occur.

Dining

For Main Dining, Royal Caribbean will designate areas for everyone, including parents and unvaccinated children, and areas for vaccinated parties only.

My Time Dining will not be available to parties that include unvaccinated guests. 

Some specialty restaurants will be open to everyone, while others will be for vaccinated parties only.

Windjammer will be open to everyone for breakfast and lunch, and the food will be served by crew members.

Royal Caribbean recommends to make dining reservations via Cruise Planner before the cruise or the Royal Caribbean app onboard.

Grab-and-go cafes will also be available for everyone.

Other venues onboard the ship

Theaters and activity venues will offer spaced seating with options for everyone and for vaccinated guests only. You will be able to make reservations for shows via the Royal Caribbean app.

Spa services, except those offered in treatment rooms, are available to everyone.

The Fitness Center will have dedicated operating hours for everyone as well as hours reserved for vaccinated guests only. 

The Casino will be open to vaccinated guests only.

Youth spaces will be open to all children and teens.         

Shore excursions

Fully vaccinated parties have the choice of booking a shore excursion or visiting freely.

Parties that wish to go ashore and include any unvaccinated guests, including parents traveling with unvaccinated children, must book a shore excursion through Royal Caribbean.

Vaccinated parents wishing to go ashore freely can drop kids off at Adventure Ocean and reserve time for their child on the day they wish to go in port.

Other protocols

Check out health protocols from other ships already announced:

Alaska withdraws from Florida's lawsuit against the CDC

In:
Category: 
09Jul2021

The State of Alaska has pulled out of Florida's lawsuit to get cruise ships sailing again.

In a court filing on Thursday, Alaska's Assistant Attorney General filed a notice to withdrawal of Alaska's motion to intervene in the lawsuit against the  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Alaska had joined Florida's lawsuit on April 21st, after Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy (R-AK) decided to join the effort to compel the CDC to allow cruise ships to sail again.

Alaska decided to pull out of the lawsuit because the temporary reprieve Congress passed to allow cruise ships to skip visiting Canadian ports as part of the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act requires CDC approval.

"Alaska is subject to the unique requirements of the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act that cruise ships visiting Alaska during 2021 must obtain a Conditional Sailing Certificate from the CDC and abide by all conditions of it," the statement explains.

According to Alaska, it filed its lawsuit at a time when the CDC had done nothing to approve any port agreements or ships to sail.  Since then, a lot has changed according to the state.

"Two days ago the CDC filed an affidavit stating that it has approved port agreements for four Alaskan ports, in addition to the port of Seattle, that conditional sailing certificates have been issued for five vessels sailing out of Seattle on Alaska-bound cruises, and that an additional vessel scheduled for Alaska-bound cruises has been approved for a simulated voyage out of Seattle."

"Given these changed circumstances, the State of Alaska withdraws its pending motion for permissive intervention under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(b)."

Despite removing itself from the lawsuit, Alaska "remains firm in its disagreement with the CDC’s legal position" and did not rule out rejoining the effort in support of Florida during the CDC's appeal.

The U.S. District Court in Tampa ruled in favor of Florida in the lawsuit, but the CDC has appealed the verdict.

In the meantime, Judge Steven D. Merryday denied the CDC's request to hold off on Conditional Sail Order injunction.

Governor Dunleavy was vocal in pursuing legal action against the CDC in the spring when there was no progress being made between the federal government and the cruise lines.

Alaska's economy is particularly vulnerable to a cruise ship ban, as a great deal of its tourism comes from cruise ships. Gov. Dunleavy says over the course of the two lost cruise seasons, Alaska will have a $3.3 billion loss in Alaska, "that's in a state with about a fifty six billion dollar GDP, so it's going to be significant."

At the time, Alaska wanted the CDC to drop the Framework for Conditional Sail Order (CSO), which prohibited cruise ships to sail in U.S. waters.

Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas is undergoing a CDC mandated test cruise right now, and Ovation of the Seas has no test sail date set yet, but CDC just waiting on confirmation from Royal Caribbean it has installed its laboratory testing equipment and tested its crew.

Royal Caribbean announces health protocols for Harmony of the Seas from Spain

In:
08Jul2021

Royal Caribbean has released the health protocols for guests sailing on Harmony of the Seas from Spain in August.

Like other ships that have restarted sailings, Harmony of the Seas has its own set of protocols for passengers that will bee sailing when the first cruises resume.

Harmony of the Seas is scheduled to restart sailings from Barcelona, Spain on August 15, 2021.

Keep in mind these protocols could change, and protocols for European sailings may be different than protocols when the ship returns to the United States.

Here is what Royal Caribbean has outlined for guests sailing on Harmony.

Vaccines

All guests 18 years and older must present proof of full Covid-19 vaccination, with the final dose of the vaccine administered at least 14 days before the sail date. 

Guests younger than 18 years of age do not need to be vaccinated; however, if they are, they should bring proof of vaccination to board and follow the testing guidance for fully vaccinated guests. 

All crew onboard Harmony of the Seas will be fully vaccinated.

On the transatlantic crossing to the United States, all guests must present proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, with the final dose of the vaccine administered at least 14 days before the sail date. Guests without proof of vaccination will not be permitted to sail. 

Proof of vaccination

Acceptable proof of vaccination must be in the form of the original vaccination record document issued by the country’s health authority or healthcare provider that administered the vaccination.

The vaccination record submitted must show that the guest is fully vaccinated. This means that the guest has completed the full cycle of required doses for the vaccine administered (e.g., received the second dose in a two-dose series) and that the guest has received the final dose at least 14 days before arriving at their cruise departure terminal in Barcelona.

Testing & Entry Requirements

Guests sailing from Barcelona, Spain will need to have the following documents when arriving to board the ship.

  • Proof of Vaccinations: Royal Caribbean requires guests age 18 years and older to be fully vaccinated. Upon arrival at the port, vaccinated guests must display proof of vaccination - acceptable proof of vaccination must be in the form of the original vaccination record document issued by the country’s health authority or healthcare provider that administered the vaccination. The vaccination record submitted must show that the guest is fully vaccinated — this means that the guest has completed the full cycle of required doses for the vaccine administered (e.g., received the second dose in a two-dose series) and that the guest has received the final dose at least 14 days before arriving at their cruise departure terminal in Barcelona.
  • Antigen Test Result: All guests age 2 years and older— including those who have been vaccinated — will need to take a complimentary antigen test on arrival at the port and present the negative test result.
  • Passport/European ID Card: Guests of all ages must have a passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of return to the guest’s home country. EU Nationals may also present their European ID card.
  • Health Questionnaire: Guests of all ages must complete the pre-cruise Health Questionnaire on the Royal Caribbean App the day before you board.
  • Visa: should one be required to enter Spain and any of the ports of call included within the itinerary.

Boarding Day in Barcelona

All guests age 2 years and older must take a complimentary rapid antigen test at the terminal in Barcelona and receive a negative result in order to sail. Registration instructions will be emailed in advance — approximately 14-18 days before the sail date.

During the Cruise

All unvaccinated guests aged between 2-17 years, must take a complimentary rapid antigen test towards the middle of the cruise. Once onboard, we’ll let you know where to go to take it.

Before Returning Home

All guests aged 2 years and older will need to take a complimentary COVID-19 test before disembarking the cruise. This result is required for re-entry into Spain and can also be used for re-entry into the guest’s home country, if needed. Additional details will be provided onboard.
 
Guests under 2 years of age will not be tested.

Masks

All guests 6 years and older, regardless of vaccine status, must wear a mask in all indoor and outdoor public spaces, unless seated and actively eating or drinking or sitting beside the pool.

Masks are not required to be worn:

  • In your own stateroom
  • In the pool or any activity where it could get wet
  • At public ports of call, local mask guidelines apply.    

Temperature Checks

For cruises departing from Spain, daily temperature checks will be conducted on all guests and crew to comply with local and national guidelines. 

More changes likely

Please note that health protocols are expected to change over time. Guidance for other ports and sailings is still in development with federal, state, and local authorities. 

Royal Caribbean promises more updates as they become necessary.

Here is a look at the email sent to passengers booked on Harmony.

Judge denies CDC request to hold off on Conditional Sail Order injunction

In:
Category: 
07Jul2021

A federal judge has denied the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) request to wait on eliminating the Conditional Sail Order (CSO) while the appeal process takes place.

On Tuesday, the CDC appealed the decision for a preliminary injunction against the CDC in allowing the CSO to be waived for Florida ports. The CDC also wanted the injunction to be stayed before it goes into effect on July 18.

Judge Steven D. Merryday reiterated his feelings in a three page response to the CDC's request for a stay, saying the CDC had exceeded its authority, "a stay that would serve to extend the unwarranted, unprecedented, and injurious exercise of governmental power by one person, the Director of CDC — is DENIED."

The Judge actually bolded and put the entire word "denied' in capital letters.

Judge Merryday went on to say that his conclusion is the CDC can show no factor that outweighs the need to conclude an unwarranted and unprecedented exercise of governmental power.

He also called out the CDC's claim that their actions are about protecting the 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 will be stopped by order of the court at 12:01 a.m. EDT on JULY 18, 2021. At that time, the CSO the measures promulgated under the conditional sailing order will become a recommendation or guideline, and not be required.

Why the CDC isn't getting its way

Judge Merryday took some time in his decision to outline the reasons why he is not granting the CDC a stay during the appeal.

It boils down to a few key issues for the judge:

  1. CDC remains dismissive of the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act,
  2. CDC remains dismissive of the manifest disjunction between the statute granting CDC authority and the authority CDC purports to exercise over the cruise industry
  3. CDC remains dismissive of state and local health regulation and dismissive of the cruise industry’s self-regulation
  4. CDC remains dismissive of successful cruise ship operation elsewhere in the world

He was also surprised the CDC did not want to take an opportunity to work on an alternative to the CSO, which was offered as part of the judge's original decision.

Cruise industry supporters will take solace in the words chosen by Judge Merryday, which paints the CDC in an unfriendly light as they squirm to find a way to get a favorable outcome.

Although CDC invariably garnishes the argument with dire prospects of “transmission” of COVID-19 aboard a cruise vessel, these dark allusions dismiss state and local health authorities, the industry’s self-regulation, and the thorough and costly preparations and accommodations by all concerned to avoid “transmission” and to confine and control the “transmission,” if one occurs. In other words, CDC can show no factor that outweighs the need to conclude an unwarranted and unprecedented exercise of governmental power.

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