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.
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.