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CDC releases new cruise ship guidelines for disembarking passengers during COVID-19

In:
06Apr2020

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its recommendations for cruise ship travelers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These new recommendations were released over the weekend, and are aimed at ensuring cruisers get home as quickly and safely as possible.

The CDC is coordinating these efforts with the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, port authorities, local and state health departments, and Department of State.

Most notably, the CDC recommends that cruise lines get passengers who have no symptoms or mild symptoms off the ship as quickly and safely as possible in the United States, and ensure they get home directly via chartered or private transportation.

The CDC specifically says commercial flights and public transportation should not be used.

Prior to this recommendation, the CDC said it was acceptable for passengers who exhibited no symptoms and passed a temperature check to travel on on commercial flights or public transportation, assuming they wore a face mask and self-isolated for 14 days once home.

Royal Caribbean announces refunds for cancelled sailings during temporary cruise suspension due to Coronavirus pandemic

In:
Category: 
13Mar2020

Royal Caribbean has announced its refund policy for guests affected by canceled sailings between March 14 and April 10, 2020.

Royal Caribbean has voluntarily suspended its US sailings for 30 days due to the gravity of the public health crisis confronting the United States in the form of COVID-19.

Guests on affected sailings between March 14 - April 10, 2020 will automatically receive a 125% Future Cruise Credit that can be used anytime before December 31, 2021. Future Cruise Credits will be automatically issued on Monday, April 13, 2020 via email.

If a guest prefers a full refund instead of a Future Cruise Credit, they can get a 100% refund instead. Guests have up until December 31, 2021 to request a full refund. Refunds can be expected 30 days after submitting the request.

Refund requests can be done automatically via Royal Caribbean's form, or by calling Royal Caribbean.

Any pre-purchased amenities and packages, such as internet, beverage packages, dining or RoyalUp upgrades, will automatically be refunded.

If you purchased air or hotel through Royal Caribbean, these will be automatically refunded to you as well.

Royal Caribbean to suspend cruises for 30 day due to coronavirus

In:
Category: 
13Mar2020

Royal Caribbean International announced it will voluntarily suspend all operations of its cruise ships for 30 days due to the Coronavirus epidemic.

Beginning at midnight on March 14, Royal Caribbean will pause the fleet's United States sailings for 30 days. In addition, the global fleet will be suspened at midnight on March 15.

"We are reaching out to our guests to help them work through this disruption to their vacations, and we are truly sorry for their inconvenience. We are also communicating with our crew to work out the issues this decision presents for them. We know this adds great stress to our guests, employees and crew, and we are working to minimize the disruption."

5:37 UPDATE: Cruises that depart US ports before midnight and international cruises will operate their scheduled itineraries. U.S. ships already at sea will finish their itineraries as planned.

6:56 UPDATE: Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean International's Senior Vice President of Sales, Trade Support and Service, reports US sailings will resume operations on April 11, 2020.

8:24PM UPDATE: Royal Caribbean has released refund options for guests affected by this shutdown.

MARCH 14 10:57AM UPDATE: Royal Caribbean has decided to suspend the sailings of our fleet globally at midnight tonight. All current sailings will conclude as scheduled. Royal Caribbean expects to return to service on April 11, 2020.

Royal Caribbean joins a number of other cruise lines who also voluntarily shut down temporarily in hope they can reopen when the COVID-19 outbreak slows down, including Princess Cruises, MSC Cruises, Disney Cruise Line and others.

Prior to shutting down, Royal Caribbean attempted to provide confidence to consumers by greatly expanding the window to cancel a cruise up until 48 hours

Earlier on Friday, Norwegian Cruise Line also announced they would temporarily shut down until mid-April.

Royal Caribbean denies boarding to anyone over 70 without doctor's clearance

In:
Category: 
12Mar2020

Royal Caribbean has updated its coronavirus protocols effective Monday, March 16, boarding will be denied to any person age 70 or older, unless the guest provides written verification from a qualified treating physician that certifies the person has no severe, chronic medical condition and is fit to travel.

In addition, boarding will be denied to any person with a severe, chronic medical condition, including those specified by the CDC.

Guests of all ages will be screened prior to boarding, regarding underlying health issues that may prevent them from sailing, i.e.  chronic heart, lung, liver, or kidney disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or cancer.

For guests 70 years or older, they can have this letter template filled out by a physician.

This new policy is in addition to the cruise line's enhanced screening policy that include mandatory temperature screenings, denial of boarding to anyone that has been to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Europe, Iran, or South Korea 15-20 days prior to embarkation.

Royal Caribbean has also implemented additional protocols that include professional medical treatment; isolation of unwell individuals from the general ship population; and intensified ship cleaning, air filtration, and sanitization procedures.

How to cancel your Royal Caribbean cruise if you are concerned about Coronavirus

In:
Category: 
11Mar2020

The Coronavirus pandemic has given a lot of families cause for concern that perhaps they should cancel or postpone their Royal Caribbean cruise vacation.

If you are considering pushing back your travel plans, here is what you should know about canceling a Royal Caribbean cruise.

You should be aware there are two different options to consider that revolve around when your cruise begins.

If you booked your cruise directly with Royal Caribbean, you must call them to do so. 

If you booked with a travel agent, your travel agent will need to cancel the cruise on your behalf.

How to cancel a Royal Caribbean cruise on before September 1, 2020

Royal Caribbean recently added a new policy, Cruise with Confidence, which allows guests to cancel their cruise up to 48 hours before you sail and get a future cruise credit good through 2021.

Guests will receive a full credit for their fare, usable on any future sailing of the guest's choice in 2020 or 2021. The policy applies to both new and existing cruise bookings.

Cruises departing after September 1, 2020 are subject to the standard cancelation policy, outlined next.

How to cancel a Royal Caribbean cruise on after September 2, 2020

If you booked refundable cruise fare, and are still before the final payment, you can cancel for a full refund of your deposit and any money paid.

If you booked a non-refundable cruise fare, and are outside of final payment, you will receive a Future Cruise Certificate in the amount of the cruise deposit, less a $100 per guest change fee.

Once you pass the final payment date, you may be subject to cancelation charges that vary depending on how close you are to your sailing.

Should you cancel your cruise because of COVID-19?

Neither I, nor anyone else, can answer that question for you. The situation is changing every day, and there are a variety of factors, risks and considerations. It is a decision only you can make for you and your family.

There are still lots of people going on cruises, but certainly there have been a lot of people who have opted to cancel their planned cruises and wait things out.

Given the nature of the Cruising with Confidence policy, my only advice is you have nothing to lost by waiting and seeing how things progress and make a decision closer to your sail date. Be sure to set a deadline of a bit earlier than 48 hours before your cruise so that you have time for the request to be processed.

US Government warns public against going on cruise ships due to Coronavirus

In:
Category: 
08Mar2020

The United States State Department issued a travel warning to US citizens against going on a cruise ship because of Coronavirus fears.

The "fluid situation" prompted the warning on Sunday evening and noted an, "increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment" by the CDC.

The State Department emphasized this warning is particularly important to travelers with underlying health conditions, who may be more susceptible to the effects of COVID-19.

Moreover, the State Department cited recent issues with some passengers being subject to local quarantines, as well as the issue of some countries implementing strict screening procedures that have denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking.

The full warning is as follows:

U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship.  CDC notes increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment. In order to curb the spread of COVID-19, many countries have implemented strict screening procedures that have denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking.  In some cases, local authorities have permitted disembarkation but subjected passengers to local quarantine procedures.  While the U.S. government has evacuated some cruise ship passengers in recent weeks, repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for U.S. citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities.  

This is a fluid situation.  CDC notes that older adults and travelers with underlying health issues should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for more severe disease.  This entails avoiding crowded places, avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips, and especially avoiding embarking on cruise ships.  Passengers with plans to travel by cruise ship should contact their cruise line companies directly for further information and continue to monitor the Travel.state.gov website and see the latest information from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/cruise/index.html. 

This new warning is one in a series of events that have dominated the cruise industry over the last few weeks. The worldwide spread of coronavirus has prompted Royal Caribbean to allow cancellations up to 48 hours before sailing, as well as implement mandatory temperature screenings to the cruise check-in procedure.

Royal Caribbean has also taken additional steps onboard its ships and in the cruise terminals to stem the spread of Coronavirus by thoroughly sanitizing the cruise ship terminal before and after every sailing. They have also added extra medical staff on each sailing, special sanitizing of high traffic areas onboard the ship, and  complimentary consultations with medical experts for all guests & crew.

The warning comes on the heels of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain speaking last week on the issue, and reminding the public that the current situation is far from ideal, but will eventually get better again.

"We're all spending time worrying, and that's natural, because we're in a storm, and when you're in the middle of a storm, it certainly feels like it'll never end. But as with most storms, it gets worse before it gets better, but it's hard to remember that this too shall pass."

Will this warning affect your decision to cruise? Let us know in our comments!

Royal Caribbean adding mandatory temperature screenings to screen for Coronavirus in guests

In:
Category: 
05Mar2020

Royal Caribbean sent an update to travel partners that it will add mandatory temperature screenings to the cruise check-in process in order to better protect guests and crew against the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.

Beginning on March 6, 2020, all Royal Caribbean International ships will conduct mandatory temperature screenings for all guests and crewmembers on embarkation day.

If your temperature is above 100.4°F or 38° C, you and those in your party will undergo a secondary health screening. Temperatures will be taken with a digital, no-touch thermometer.

If you require a secondary screening, this is what you can expect:

  • Your temperature will be checked again.
  • You'll undergo a pulse oximetry reading. This means, a small device will be placed on your finger to measure your oxygen level.
    • If you happen to have a chronic lung illness, like asthma, please bring a letter from your medical practitioner that indicates your normal baseline oxygen saturation levels. This will help ensure you are not denied boarding if you are healthy otherwise.
  • Then, a medical professional will check you for flu-like symptoms, respiratory illness, etc., and would make a final assessment to understand if you're fit to sail.

If it is decided that we must unfortunately deny you boarding, you'll receive a 100% Future Cruise Credit for your cruise fare paid, and any precruise Royal Caribbean International purchases and taxes and fees will be refunded to your original form of payment.

In addition to these protocols, Royal Caribbean is also taking additional steps to stem the spread of coronavirus on its ships, including:

• Thoroughly sanitizing the cruise ship terminal before and after every sailing

• Special sanitizing of high traffic areas onboard multiple times a day

• Adding extra medical staff on each sailing

• Providing complimentary consultations with medical experts for all guests & crew

• Plus, the Captain will make two daily announcements during your cruise reminding everyone of how to stay healthy onboard

Royal Caribbean expands Coronavirus travel restrictions to include Iran, Italy or South Korea

In:
Category: 
24Feb2020

Royal Caribbean has updated its health screening protocols in an effort to combat Coronavirus (COVID-19) from impacting its cruise ships.

Until further notice, all ships in the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. fleet will adopt the following health screening protocols:

1. Regardless of nationality, we will deny boarding to:

Any guest who has travelled from, to, or through mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, South Korea, and the Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto in the past 15 days.

Any guest who has come in contact with anyone with 15-day prior travel to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, South Korea, and the Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto. The CDC characterizes contact with an individual as coming within 6 feet (2M) of a person.

Guests who report feeling unwell or demonstrate any flu-like symptom.

2. There will be mandatory specialized health screenings performed on:

Any guest who has travelled from, to, or through Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and Italy (all regions other than Lombardy and Veneto) in the past 15 days.

Guests who are uncertain about contact with individuals who have traveled from, to, or through mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and Italy in the past 15 days.

Guests presenting with fever or low blood oximetry in the specialized health screenings will be denied boarding.

All guests who are denied boarding due to these restrictions will receive full refunds.

In addition to these protocols, Royal Caribbean is also taking additional steps to stem the spread of coronavirus on its ships, including:

• Thoroughly sanitizing the cruise ship terminal before and after every sailing

• Special sanitizing of high traffic areas onboard multiple times a day

• Adding extra medical staff on each sailing

• Providing complimentary consultations with medical experts for all guests & crew

• Plus, the Captain will make two daily announcements during your cruise reminding everyone of how to stay healthy onboard

Royal Caribbean issues update on Coronavirus outbreak

In:
Category: 
14Feb2020

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. officially commented on the Coronavirus situation, and how it is impacting the company's bottom line.

Thus far, a total of 18 sailings have been canceled, along with several other modified itineraries.

Taken together, these measures have an estimated impact on the company's financial performance for 2020 of approximately $0.65 per share.  

Royal Caribbean also provided a financial performance forecast if they were to cancel all of its remaining sailings in Asia through the end of April, which would impact 2020 financial performance by an additional $0.55 per share.  Canceling the remaining sailings in Asia through the end of April is not currently planned.

"It is important that every organization acts responsibly, and we have already taken aggressive steps to minimize risk through boarding restrictions and itinerary changes," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO.  "Our shipboard and shoreside teams have been working tirelessly through these circumstances and I want to thank them for all of their extraordinary efforts. We appreciate our responsibility to our guests and to each other, and our focus on public health is unwavering."

Mr. Fain also mentioned that while the early impact due to concerns about the Coronavirus is mainly related to Asia, recent bookings for our broader business have also been softer.

If the travel restrictions and concerns over the outbreak continue for an extended period of time, they could materially impact the company's overall financial performance. 

Royal Caribbean lifts ban on Chinese passport holders meant to prevent coronavirus spread

In:
Category: 
10Feb2020

Royal Caribbean announced it has ended the policy that banned guests who held a passport from China, Hong Kong and Macau due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The policy was implemented last week, "in response to numerous ports and governments around the world restricting travel for Chinese passport holders."

There is still a policy in effect that bans any guest who has traveled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, along with restrictions on individuals who have been in close contact with persons who have traveled from, through or to China, Hong Kong and Macau in the past 15 days. 

The cruise line has the following health screening protocols in place:

  1. Regardless of nationality, we will deny boarding to
    1. Any guest who has traveled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau in the past 15 days.
    2. Any guest who has come in contact with anyone from mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau in the past 15 days. The CDC characterizes contact with an individual as coming within six feet (2M) of a person.
  2. There will be mandatory specialized health screenings performed on:
    1. Guests who are uncertain about contact with individuals who have traveled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau in the past 15 days.
    2. Guests who report feeling unwell or demonstrate any flu-like symptoms.
    3. Guests presenting with fever or low blood oximetry in the specialized health screenings will be denied boarding.

All guests who are denied boarding due to these restrictions will receive full refunds.

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