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Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - A look at cruises returning in England

06 Oct 2021

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Emma joins me this week to share what going on a cruise is like right now from the UK.

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Royal Caribbean celebrates first cruise from England with free cruise for Emergency Service and NHS Workers

07 Jul 2021

Cruises from England are back on Royal Caribbean, and the cruise line is celebrating the start by honoring those that have served England during the pandemic.

Anthem of the Seas set sail from Southampton on Wednesday, which marks the return of cruises to the UK for the first time in more than a year.

Appropriately, Royal Caribbean wanted to extend a way of saying "thank you" to the men and women who worked tirelessly to keep their fellow Brittons healthy during the global health crisis.

Exactly 999 emergency services, NHS, social care sector and armed forces employees will be on board multiple sailings this summer as a way of recognizing their tremendous efforts.

Ben Bouldin, vice president, EMEA, Royal Caribbean commented: “We are delighted to once again sail from the UK, and it’s an honour to host some of the country’s many key workers on board our first sailings. It’s thanks to these individuals, who have worked so hard to see our country through this tough time, that this moment is finally here. I have no doubt they will have an incredible and well-deserved break aboard our UK-favourite, Anthem of the Seas.”

UK residents can choose between one of Anthem's 4-night Ocean Getaways and 5- to 8-night British Isles cruises that tour the UK coastline, from Liverpool, England and Belfast, Northern Ireland, to Kirkwall, Scotland.

Sailing with fully vaccinated crew, these summer cruises are only available to UK residents 18 years and older who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and children under the age of 18 with negative test results. 

Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas will sail from UK in Summer 2021

31 Mar 2021

Count Royal Caribbean in among the cruise lines that will offer cruises from the UK this summer.

Royal Caribbean announced Anthem of the Seas will begin sailing from Southampton beginning July 7, 2021.

Anthem will offer a combination of 4-night cruises to nowhere in early July and 5- to 8-night British Isles cruises, starting 15th July, that feature visits to destinations such as Liverpool, England, Kirkwall in Scotland and Belfast, Northern Ireland. 

The new Anthem of the Seas sailings will go on sale April 7th.

All crew members onboard will be fully vaccinated, and at this time, the cruises are only available to be booked by UK residents above the age of 18 who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and those under the age of 18 with negative test results.

The cruise line says current health and safety measures, like others, may evolve as they are evaluated on an ongoing basis.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley celebrated the news of Anthem sailing from the UK this summer, "The UK is a place we hold near and dear to our heart at Royal Caribbean. We miss our UK guests and are as eager as they are to get back to cruising from Southampton."

"We are delighted with the UK government’s recent announcements regarding cruising and excited to set sail again with a phenomenal ship and favorite such as Anthem of the Seas. After a tough year, we all need a holiday, but no one more so than the emergency services, NHS, social care sector and armed forces who will have the long-awaited opportunity to get away and relax with total peace of mind."

Details on the health and safety measures to be implemented for the summer cruises in the UK will be announced at a later date.

With Anthem of the Seas restart, it becomes the 6th ship that will be able to restart cruises this year, following a number of ships Royal Caribbean has announced plans for new sailings this summer.

  • Adventure of the Seas from Nassau, Bahamas
  • Vision of the Seas from Bermuda
  • Jewel of the Seas from Cyprus
  • Odyssey of the Seas from Haifa, Israel
  • Grandeur of the Seas from Barbados

Announcements like this have been the slow and methodical means Royal Caribbean has been able to resume cruises while the United States maintains its ban on cruise ships.

Thank you giveaway

In addition to announcing the new sailings, Royal Caribbean said it will also offer 999 staterooms to the UK's first responders.

As a way of saying thank you to the people who have worked so hard during the global health crisis, Royal Caribbean will offer 999 free staterooms on its first Ocean Getaways to those UK residents in these professions:

  • Emergency services
  • National Health Service (NHS)
  • Social care sector
  • Armed forces

To be eligible for one of the free sailings, UK residents must be able to show proof of an official Blue Light Card, which is available to those working in the emergency services, NHS, social care sector and armed forces. 

 Pre-registration for guests eligible for one of the 999 free staterooms open on 13th April, and final names will be drawn from a ballot by the end of April.

Pre-registrations will be entered into a ballot to be drawn by the end of April. F

England opens up option for cruises to restart on May 17

09 Mar 2021

England sees the global health crisis improving, and has announced domestic cruises could begin in May.

At a meeting of the  All Party Parliamentary Maritime and Ports Group, UK Maritime Minister Robert Courts announced domestic cruises in England could restart on May 17.

Mr. Courts indicated the option for cruises to restart from England would coincide with opening up vacation options for residents of England.

He indicated the decision would still hinder on certain factors remaining favorable, such as the current cases, vaccine rollout, and other factors.

A statement by the Department of Transport confirmed the news in a statement, "We are committed to restarting cruise travel when it is safe to do so, and we are working closely with the sector to prepare for a safe and successful restart."

"The restart of domestic cruises in England will be aligned with the wider resumption of the domestic tourism and indoor hospitality sectors."

"As set out in the Prime Minister’s road map, the earliest possible date for this step is May 17."

Andy Harmer, Director of Cruise Lines International Association UK & Ireland issued this statement, "We strongly welcome the announcement that cruise will be included alongside the restart of other domestic tourism in the UK."

"The industry has long planned a phased restart for cruise, with domestic cruises representing the first stage of this plan. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the Government, including through the Global Travel Taskforce in order to ensure the safe restart of international cruise in time for the summer season."

According to the Independent, crew members will be tested and then required to undergo two weeks' quarantine onboard the ship before any cruise departures.

Cruise expert Gary Bembridge pointed out that this news applies only to England currently, and other parts of the United Kingdom will need to adopt the policy change too.

Royal Caribbean has not announced any potential sailings yet that would be able to take advantage of domestic cruises around England, although Royal Caribbean's UK Boss did say he thought they had "limited appeal".

Read moreRoyal Caribbean UK Boss: UK only cruises have "limited appeal"

Royal Caribbean UK Boss: UK only cruises have "limited appeal"

04 Mar 2021

Earlier this week, two cruise lines announced they would scale back their European cruises to only offer sailings from the United Kingdom, which prompts the question if Royal Caribbean would do the same.

Both Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises announced instead of sailing to destinations around Europe, they would offer sailings around the UK due to the global health crisis.

The Sky Princess, Regal Princess, and Island Princess will sail from Southampton and offer short sailings, with more details later.

P&O Cruises also announced new sailings around the British Isles for UK residents only.

Could Royal Caribbean follow suit and offer cruises from Southampton this summer to on the UK?

Royal Caribbean's vice president EMEA, Ben Bouldin, was interviewed by Travel Weekly about this very topic.

Mr. Bouldin says cruises around the UK could be done, but, "it's probably got limited appeal".

"Domestic cruising is probably looks and feels like the most likely opportunity in the short term based on the rhetoric we've had."

"I don't think Royal Caribbean for sure, is not a cruise line that wants to do that for too long."

Mr. Bouldin pointed out Royal Caribbean's cruise ships, namely Anthem of the Seas, is too large to go into many UK ports.

In terms of restarting cruises from the UK, Mr. Bouldin said they are "looking at a lot lots of options."

"I think all cruise lines are probably going to have to do some sort of test cruise. And we talked about the requirement for these test cruises previously, whether that's cruises to nowhere or whether it's cruises to a another U.K. port. I think there'll be some of those."

"It's not that we don't mind taking a bit of a punt and getting something up and running, but we need to know once we've started, there's so much cost involved in restarting that cruise program, we need to know we can continue it credibly. What we don't want to be in is this sort stop start pattern."

The topic of domestic cruising from the UK comes right after Royal Caribbean canceled its European cruise season for Odyssey of the Seas. Instead, Odyssey will sail from Israel during summer 2021.

Read moreWhy can't cruise ships sail from other countries instead?

In terms of cruises in Europe in 2021, Royal Caribbean executives spoke on this topic during their fourth quarter 2020 earnings call with investors.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley said that while cruises from the UK are not beholden to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the rules will likely be the same.

"We know that the operations in some of the European countries, particularly Germany, Italy, have been ongoing for the past couple of month... and those protocols that have government operations have basically been based on the Healthy Sail Panel or the CLIA member policies, and then overlaid with specific instructions by the National Health Authority."

"I think what we're going to see is very similar to what we're going to see in the United States, which is as we continue to see infections decline and vaccines increase, then we're going to move to protocols that probably are some kind of hybrid between vaccines and testing."

"We imagine that they'll be very similar to the guidelines that we'll get from the CDC."

Royal Caribbean's UK boss talks about plans to restart cruises

30 Nov 2020

Royal Caribbean's vice president EMEA, Ben Bouldin, spoke to cruise fans during an online webinar about what Royal Caribbean is thinking in regards to cruises starting up again.

Mr. Bouldin answered questions during a CruiseCritic webinar about how Royal Caribbean will approach their return to service, and what is happening right now to get closer to cruises resuming.

Today's talk with Mr. Bouldin provided an updated look at the latest changes and news.

Extensive test sailings

One of the first topics tackled was test cruises, and what to expect from them.

Royal Caribbean received a tremendous amount of interest from the public to be a volunteer on test cruises, and the question remains what to expect from these test sailings.

Mr. Bouldin believes the test sailings will be "critical" to preparing the fleet to start again safely.

The exact specifics of these test sailings still need to be defined fully, "We might need some volunteers in some markets to do so and we'll see how that goes. But the team are planning what those tests eventually look like."

The opportunity to sign up for test cruises is limited to Americans currently, but European test sailings will also need to occur and volunteers could be a part of that too.

"There will definitely be trial cruises on the ship sailing out of Europe, so we've had that confirmed."

"What form those are going to take was still working on, but there will definitely be some trial cruises and whether or not we open those up to the public and still to be defined."

"But I suspect we may well need the help of some of our very loyal, Crown and Anchor guests to come and help put some of the ships and the crews through their paces."

First cruise back on Quantum

On the topic of test cruises, Royal Caribbean just wrapped up its first test sailing with Quantum of the Seas right before she will start sailing again tomorrow.

Mr. Bouldin noted Quantum completed its first test sailing in Singapore with "friends and family" onboard.

"We've worked very closely with the Singapore authorities to produce a program that's fit for purpose and helps us return to service safely. And we're delighted to get that back up and running tomorrow."

"I'm sure we're going to learn so much about our future plans on the basis of how these sailing's developed evolve."

Of course, these cruises on Quantum have been designed with safety of crew and passengers in conjunction with the Singaporean government.

"There are so many different protocols, many different aspects from hygiene and cleaning crew to how we serve in restaurants and buffets, how we socially distance and theaters."

"All of these things have to be thought through practiced and implemented ahead of guests coming on board."

Technology will be critical

When cruises restart, technology will play its most significant role yet on cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean has always invested in new ways to leverage tech, such as facial recognition and a new app, but more changes are coming.

Mr. Bouldin noted that the cruise line wants to create contactless environments around the ship, such as how people can order drinks from their phone or open their stateroom doors.

"That's all going to evolve and continue to evolve. So planning your trip and having everything in the palm of your hand is critical."

One of the signature new features coming to the Royal Caribbean app is Muster 2.0, which makes the muster drill a self-service and easier experience.

Buffet is not going away

And for anyone still concerned, the Windjammer buffet is not going anywhere.

There was concern earlier this year that the buffet might be going away, but Mr. Bouldin echoed follow up comments from Royal Caribbean that there will still be a buffet, albeit with some changes.

"The buffet is staying. The Windjammer Cafe is one of the most loved and best loved features of our product and is genuinely adored by our fans all over the world."

"In the short term, we may have to look at some changes around how food is served, but ultimately that restaurant and the brand has no intention of getting rid of the buffet that everyone loves."

Royal Caribbean UK launches new family focused television ads

18 Dec 2019

Royal Caribbean UK launched a new series of television ads aimed at showcasing how a cruise vacation can help families come together.

The new advertising campaign was developed by Truant London and officially kicks off on December 26.

Jodie Whittaker, best known for her work on Dr Who, narrates the new television commercial.  It will begin appearing across major TV channels and video-on-demand on December 26.

The new ads focus on bringing extended families together and reconnect during a cruise vacation.

Royal Caribbean will also sponsor The Masked Singer in January. 

Royal Caribbean UK Black Friday offer announced

28 Nov 2019

Royal Caribbean UK has a new offer for residents of the UK to take advantage of, beginning today.

The Black Friday promotion is applicable to new bookings made between Thursday 28th November to 2nd December 2019 on selected sailings of 5 nights or more departing between 2nd January 2020 and 30th April 2022.

It includes:

  • Buy one cruise fare and enjoy 60% off another on selected sailing.
  • Book between 28 November – 2 December to receive an additional £250 off each stateroom booked across all Royal Caribbean ships.
    • Saving per stateroom 5 night
      • Suites will receive a saving of £120 per stateroom
      • Balconies will receive a saving of £75 per stateroom
      • Interior and ocean view staterooms will receive a saving of £40 per stateroom
    • Saving per stateroom 6+ night
      • Suites will receive a saving of £250 per stateroom
      • Balconies will receive a saving of £120 per stateroom
      • Interior and ocean view staterooms will receive a saving of £75 per stateroom

Black Friday offer is applicable on sailings including Allure of the Seas European sailings, Anthem of the Seas sailings from Southampton, Middle Eastern holidays onboard Jewel of the Seas and holidays to Perfect Day at CocoCay, the brand’s private island in the Bahamas.

Guarantee stateroom bookings in ZI, YO, XB, XN, & WS categories are excluded from this promotion.

These Promotions are only combinable, with Crown & Anchor Discounts, Tescos Clubcard bookings, the benefits offered by booking onboard via our Future Cruise Consultants (Reserved or Open Bookings) and Future Cruise Certificates only and are not combinable with any other offer.

Royal Caribbean UK is looking to pay someone to cruise and share the fun on social media

04 Feb 2019

Royal Caribbean is looking for British or Irish citizens to become a Shore Explorer Apprentice and explore the world from a Royal Caribbean cruise and get paid a six figure salary for the work!

Royal Caribbean is looking for a new employee to sail round the globe, documenting their experiences on social media.

The role is open to British and Irish citizens aged 21 and over, and to apply you simply need to post an "extraordinary travel story, video, or image" on Instagram via Instagram stories, IGTV, or an Instagram post tagging @RoyalCaribbeanUK and #ShoreExplorer before the end of the day on March 1 2019.

The 20 Finalists will be announced on March 15, 2019 on the website and Instagram, and the overall winner will be informed by the Promoter via Instagram message by April 5, 2019 or as soon as practicable thereafter if a review is required.

View this post on Instagram

Today is the day!! @royalcaribbeanuk have just opened applications for an epic new role: the #ShoreExplorer Apprentice-ship programme. It's a search similar to the internship which ran two years ago and completely changed my life, taking me on some incredible adventures! The successful candidate will have the opportunity to seek out & test extraordinary shore experiences in the most jaw-dropping destinations across the globe - including Alaska, Japan, Dubai and the Caribbean - while getting paid equivalent to a 6 figure yearly salary. I am also happy to announce that I will be one of the judges and one lucky candidate will be accompanied by myself on part of their extraordinary journey around the world. Head over to the @royalcaribbeanuk page or search #ShoreExplorer for all the details on how to enter. Good luck! T&Cs apply. Visit @royalcaribbeanuk for more info.

A post shared by ʀᴜss ғʀᴀɴᴄɪs (@russ_francis) on

The Winner must be able to travel between May and August 2019 for at least three and up to four consecutive weeks if required to do so.  The winner will be able to visit

  • Perfect Day at CocoCay
  • Alaska, USA
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Norway
  • Dubai, UAE
  • Osaka, Japan

Royal Caribbean confirms Anthem of the Seas is headed back to UK

24 Oct 2018

After months of rumors, it now appears Royal Caribbean will move Anthem of the Seas in 2020 from the New York market, and send her over to the Southampton, England.

Royal Caribbean UK and Ireland managing director Ben Bouldin confirmed the news to TravelWeekly.

"Not only that, I'm delighted to announce that the UK will see Anthem of the Seas returned to Southampton, and that will go on sale on the 20th of November. We're thrilled to have her back."

Word of a Quantum Class ship coming back to the UK first arose after Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley confirmed one of the ships in the class would sail from Southampton in 2020. Bayley did not mention which Quantum Class ship it would be, but cruise fans quickly narrowed down the choices by process of elimination to Quantum or Anthem.

If you are wondering when Anthem of the Seas sailings will go on sale, Royal Caribbean has indicated that Europe Phase I sailings will go on sale the week of November 19, and Europe Phase II will go on sale the week of December 17.  Bouldin indicated ex-UK and Europe departures in 2020 will be available to book from November 20.

It remains to be seen which ship will replace Anthem of the Seas in Bayonne, New Jersey. The nature of new ship deployment announcements is there are many moving pieces that comprise a deployment schedule.

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