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Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: May 9, 2021

Happy Mothers Day! All the moms out there deserve a big hug, thank you, and hopefully a new cruise booking too.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has given cruise lines new instructions for test cruises and even sailings from the United States.

The CDC released the next two phases of its Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) that will allow for the “eventual resumption of U.S. cruise industry operations.”

The new instructions cover the test cruises that cruise ships would need to conduct in order to start sailing passenger sailings under a COVID-19 Conditional Sailing Certificate.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 405th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available,which takes a look at the big cruise news outside of Royal Caribbean.

This week, Ashley and Matt look at all the cruise news happening with other cruise lines.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

New RCB Video: 10 Cruise ship mistakes travel agents see people doing all the time!

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! This week, we are sharing our latest video — 10 Cruise ship mistakes travel agents see people doing all the time! — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Royal Caribbean Summer 2021 Cruise Planning Guide

This summer there were will be at least a few ships sailing from ports in the Caribbean and Europe, and I have important tips and things to know about reserving and planning for these summer sailings.

One thing is certain for these summer 2021 cruises, and that is there will be changes and new protocols in place that are new to any cruiser.

With that in mind, our Summer 2021 Cruise Planning Guide shares advice, tips, and news you should be aware of for cruises in summer 2021.

Texas joins lawsuit against CDC to get cruises restarted

Another state has joined the lawsuit to get cruise ships sailing again.

The State of Texas has joined the lawsuit against the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that was started by Florida.

Texas is the second state to join the lawsuit, following Alaska last week.

DisneyCruiseLineBlog discovered the filing, which was filed on May 5.

In the lawsuit, Texas says it is suing the CDC because the “CDC’s outdated and unlawful regulation harms the State of Texas, its economy, and its citizens.”

Specifically, Texas believes the Conditional Sail Order (CSO) is unlawful and has a great effect on the local economy.

This litigation concerns the lawfulness of a CDC regulatory order with a profound effect on the Texas public fisc, including tax revenues to the state and the well-being of multiple industries vital to the State’s economy. The CDC order also raises constitutional concerns bearing on the lawfulness and reach of the CDC’s authority.

The first hearing in the lawsuit is scheduled for May 12.

The lawsuit comes just days after a rally was held in Galveston when the Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista arrived at the port to begin crew vaccinations.

Carnival Cruise Line joined members of the Federal Maritime Commission, Galveston city and port officials and local businesses at the Port of Galveston to highlight the economic impact of cruising in Galveston and throughout Texas.

In the lawsuit, Texas believes the Port of Galveston is uniquely situated to address local Covid-19 concerns. The port is located just one mile from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston UTMB is one of the largest academic medical hospitals in the country, and its facilities include a National Biosafety Level 4 Laboratory.

The Port of Galveston has also already held a table-top exercise preparing for possible COVID-19 outbreaks on-ship.

Texas also states the shutdown has cost the state $1.2 billion in direct spending. The cruise shutdown has also cost 23,000 jobs, and $1.6 billion in lost wages across the State of Texas.

What the lawsuit aims to do

The purpose of the lawsuit is to get the CSO dropped immediately, so that cruise lines can pursue restart plans.

While the CDC has recently updated its guidance and provided instructions for cruise lines to restart operations, the lawsuit wants the cruise lines to be unencumbered by the regulations.  

Texas wants the cruise lines to adhere to “reasonable restrictions within its statutory authority” instead of the CDC’s order.

How does the new CDC update factor in?

One major change that the lawsuit does not cover is the recent announcement by the CDC to provide the test sailing steps for cruise lines to restart sailings.

Cruise lines received final technical guidelines on Wednesday from the CDC for the trial runs. When Florida filed its lawsuit last month, much of the impetus behind it was a lack of progress by the CDC.

Test cruises will be between two and seven nights and must have enough passengers to meet at least 10% of the ship’s capacity. Volunteers must be 18 or older and either fully vaccinated or free of medical conditions that would put them at high risk for severe Covid-19.

Restrictions on board will include face masks and social distancing.

Alternatively, cruise ships could skip the test sailings if they can ensure 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are vaccinated.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: May 2, 2021

Happy weekend! In case you missed any Royal Caribbean news, here is a look at everything that happened this week!

The big cruise news this week came when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave the cruise industry new hope for sailings to resume from the United States this summer.

In the new guidance, the CDC said cruise ships that have 98% vaccinated crew members and 95% vaccinated passengers could restart sailings and bypass the required simulated test voyages carrying volunteers and jump to sailings with paying passengers.

It is not clear yet if Royal Caribbean will move in this direction, nor when any restart might commence yet.

Also included in the report are five points of clarification that give cruise lines better insight into the CDC’s expectations for a restart.

Read more:

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 404th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, with advice on flying to Nassau.

Someone that has flown to Nassau a lot recently shares his tips and experiences for flying to Nassau given the changes these days.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

New RCB Video: The most FRUSTRATING things about Royal Caribbean cruises!

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! This week, we are sharing our latest video — The most FRUSTRATING things about Royal Caribbean cruises! — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

5 reasons why what happened to cruise ships in 2020 will never happen again

In the early days of the global health crisis, the cruise industry was caught off guard with a new health threat which was unfortunately seen in the public eye in the case of a few high profile ship quarantines.

More than a year later, memories of what happened to those cruise ships in early 2020 still dominate the narrative for many people and the fear of allowing something like this to happen again is enough to compel some to not want cruise ships to sail again.

While the cruise industry struggles to prove it can safely sail from the United States, here is why what happened on cruise ships at the very start of the global health crisis will all but certainly never happen again.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: April 25, 2021

Did you miss any of this week’s Royal Caribbean news? No worries, because we have you covered with our wrap-up of cruise news!

Alaska joined Florida in suing the federal government in an attempt to get cruises started.

Earlier this week, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy (R-AK) announced Alaska was joining the lawsuit against the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Both states want the CDC to drop the Framework for Conditional Sail Order (CSO), which is not allowing cruise ships to sail in U.S. waters.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 403rd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, with Matt’s opinion of what is happening with the CDC right now.

A lot has been happening over the last few weeks with various statements, injunctions, and legislation aimed at getting cruise ships sailing again. This week, Matt talks about how he sees things moving, and what it all means.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

New RCB Video: My favorite Royal Caribbean cruise hacks

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! This week, we are sharing our latest video — My favorite Royal Caribbean cruise hacks — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Will a Royal Caribbean sale actually save me any money?

There are lots of Royal Caribbean sales and promotions you could book, but will these cruise sales and pre-cruise discounts save you any money?

Quite often you will see an email or social media post advertising discounts to take advantage of, but like so many things, it depends on how much it may actually save you.

The key is to track prices, and reprice when possible.

Help Corner: How to contact Royal Caribbean for help with a cruise cancellation or refund

These days, it seems we all have various billing questions to decipher.

With all of the cruise cancellations over the last year, there is a good chance you may have a future cruise credit, onboard credit, or upcoming booking that you are trying to balance.

Here are some easy steps for getting answers if you are trying to sort out options, or get an update on your refund status.

Senate blocks passage of new bill to allow cruise ships to restart sailing

A new bill was introduced last week that aimed to get cruise ships sailing again, but the Senate has blocked the bill from passing.

The Careful Resumption Under Improved Safety Enhancements (CRUISE) Act was introduced by by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Senator Sullivan released a statement to the press noting that Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) objected, preventing the bill from passing.

The purpose of the CRUISE Act is to bypass the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ban of cruise ships and allow ships to sail again as early as July.

Read moreSenators introduce new bill for cruise ships to sail without CDC approval

Speaking on the Senate floor, Senator Scott implored action for the fair treatment of cruises, “My colleagues and I are simply asking the CDC to provide a timeline when the cruise industry can begin to reopen like so many other sectors and the cruise that ensures they can do that in a safe manner.”

“The CDC is treating the cruise sector unfairly while other industries are open for business. There is no reason why America’s cruise industry and the thousands of jobs that rely on US success should continue to suffer. Cruises can and should resume. And we’re going to do everything we can to bring about cruising safely.”

Sen. Murray objected to the legislation, claiming cruise ships need new rules, “Cruise ships require specific focus and protocols in place to prevent future outbreaks.”

The entire cruise industry has committed to sweeping new health and safety protocols derived by an independent group public health experts, led by former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt and former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Dr. Scott Gottlieb.

These protocols include testing of every person onboard, social distancing, face masks and much more.

Sen. Murray continued, “We must trust the science and we must allow the CDC to continue its work to help us return to what we love as safely as possible.”

“So I will continue to work with CDC and the administration as they develop the next phase of their cruising guidance, but for now, I object.”

If passed, the CRUISE Act would revoke the CDC’s current Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) on cruises and require the CDC to provide Covid-19 mitigation guidance for cruise lines to safely resume operations. 

Representatives Don Young (R-Alaska) and María Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) have introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

If the Cruise Act were passed, it would override the CSO.

“Not later than July 4, 2021, the Secretary shall revoke the order entitled ‘‘Framework for Conditional Sailing and Initial Phase COVID–19 Testing Requirements for Protection of Crew’’, issued by the Director on November 4, 2020 (85 Fed. Reg. 70153), under the authority of sections 361 and 365 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 264; 268), and any other order or regulation that prohibits the operation of all cruise ships in United States waters, requires such ships to obtain approval from the Director prior to operating, or otherwise acts as a de facto prohibition for cruise ship operations in the United States.”

The bill also proposed the creation of an interagency working group, which would issue recommendations for how to mitigate the risks of COVID–19 introduction, transmission, and spread among passengers and crew on board cruise ships and ashore to communities.

Sen. Scott pointed out the glaring double standard cruise ships are held to compared to every other sector of travel, “Today, hotels are open, airlines are flying, beaches are open, restaurants are open, tourism sites are open, amusement parks are open. They’re all open.”

“But for whatever reason, the cruise industry has made a decision to not allow cruising to happen. So they singled out this industry and cannot tell any of us why they’ve singled this out. “

“All we are asking is for the CDC to provide a timeline of when the cruise industry can begin to reopen. The cruise industry wants to do it safely.”

Royal Caribbean Group CEO: “were more optimistic than ever” for summer cruises

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain shared a very positive message to start everyone’s week.

For many months, Richard Fain has shared quick video updates with the travel agent community to keep them abreast of what is happening, and his own thoughts on the state of cruising.

In his latest video update, Mr. Fain shared an incredible amount of optimism that cruises will be allowed to sail in the United States sooner, rather than later.

Mr. Fain alludes to positive discussions with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as well as talks with the federal government, and even goes as far as to say summer cruises to Alaska are still possible this year.

In short, positive news regarding the treatment of Covid-19 and the vaccine rollout, coupled with strong data from cruise ships around the world that new health protocols on cruise ships are effective have given the cruise lines a compelling dataset to use in discussions with the CDC and other health authorities.

“Based on that data, over 30 countries have already granted permission for cruising. And we’re optimistic that the CDC will too.”

“Based on the advances in science and the data provided by our experiences abroad, the CDC is engaging in a constructive dialogue with us in the industry to enable a return to service in a safe and healthy manner.”

In regard to summer cruises, Mr. Fain said that the possibility still remains for there to be a summer cruise season this year.

“We’re also pleased that the science and the data have advanced so far in just a few months. The CDC has publicly stated that this could enable cruising to restart as early as mid-July.”

“We agree with that assessment and we’re more optimistic than ever that a realistic path forward can be achieved in that time frame. That would enable a summer season in Alaska and elsewhere.”

Mr. Fain says the final decision on when cruises will be able to restart lays with the CDC, “as they should be, and I caution you that we can’t prejudge their decisions.”

“The new leadership seems ready to have the kind of dialogue that could lead to a constructive outcome.”

Part of the optimism for this forward progress in having productive conversations with the federal government comes from the support the travel community has shown recently.

Mr. Fain points to the public statements of support for cruise lines have, “demonstrated that there is a strong desire to see cruising treated like so many other businesses and allowed to operate under safe guidelines.”

“That loud voice has been clear and it seems to be being heard in Washington and in Atlanta.”

Mr. Fain’s comments follows a groundswell of public support recently for cruise ships to be able to sail again.

Leading the charge has been the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), who has spearheaded a campaign to tell lawmakers people want cruise ships to be able to resume service.

In addition, a series of public statements (and even a lawsuit) from local officials, as well as bills in Congress have been introduced with the singular goal of compelling the CDC to allow cruise ships to sail again.

Cruise ships have been shutdown in the United States since March 2020, when the cruise industry volunteered to stop cruising in the early days of the global health crisis.  Since then, the CDC instituted a ban on cruise ships.

Since then, many other aspects of travel have either not been halted, or been allowed to restart, including airlines, hotels, theme parks, and casinos.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: April 18, 2021

Happy weekend! I hope Spring is starting to arrive where you live.  Regardless of the weather, it is time to sit back, relax, and check out the latest in Royal Caribbean news!

The news that got a lot of attention this week was a new bill introduced that aims to get cruise ships sailing again.

Senators from Florida and Alaska sponsored a new piece of legislation that would allow cruise ships to start sailing without the CDC’s interference.

Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan, along with Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, announced a bill that is aimed at overriding the CDC’s current framework for getting cruise lines back to sea. In this new legislation, called the CRUISE Act, or Careful Resumption Under Improved Safety Enhancements, lawmakers are calling on U.S. health officials to change current guidelines.

The purpose of the bill is to end the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s Framework for Conditional Sail Order (CSO) by July 4, 2021 so that cruise lines can restart sailings from the United States.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 402nd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, featuring a look at this summer’s cruises you could sail on.

In this episode, Matt takes a look at what you need to be thinking about if you are planning a summer 2021 cruise.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

New RCB Video: 20 Royal Caribbean tips for a better cruise

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! This week, we are sharing our latest video — 20 Royal Caribbean tips for a better cruise — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Royal Caribbean Group CEO sees signs “We Are Approaching The End” of cruise shutdown

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain thinks cruise ships being able to sail again may be up next.

In his latest video update, Richard Fain sees a lot of key milestones happening now that point to the fact things are moving in the right direction.

Included in his comments was mention of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recent update to its Framework for Conditional Sail Order (CSO), which Mr. Fain characterized as, “tougher restrictions on cruising out of U.S. ports.”

Senators introduce new bill for cruise ships to sail without CDC approval

A new piece of legislation has been introduced by Senators from Florida and Alaska that would allow cruise ships to start sailing without the CDC’s interference.

The ‘‘Careful Resumption Under Improved Safety Enhancements Act’’ or the ‘‘CRUISE Act’’ was introduced on Tuesday as a new bill by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).

The purpose of the bill is to end the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s Framework for Conditional Sail Order (CSO) by July 4, 2021 so that cruise lines can restart sailings from the United States.

The CSO is what is preventing cruise ships from sailing again, and to date, has been incomplete in terms of providing all the necessary steps for cruise lines to accomplish in order to receive approval to sail.

If the Cruise Act were passed, it would override the CSO.

“Not later than July 4, 2021, the Secretary shall revoke the order entitled ‘‘Framework for Conditional Sailing and Initial Phase COVID–19 Testing Requirements for Protection of Crew’’, issued by the Director on November 4, 2020 (85 Fed. Reg. 70153), under the authority of sections 361 and 365 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 264; 268), and any other order or regulation that prohibits the operation of all cruise ships in United States waters, requires such ships to obtain approval from the Director prior to operating, or otherwise acts as a de facto prohibition for cruise ship operations in the United States.”

The bill also proposed the creation of an interagency working group, which would issue recommendations for how to mitigate the risks of COVID–19 introduction, transmission, and spread among passengers and crew on board cruise ships and ashore to communities.

What the Conditional Sail Order requires

The Framework for Conditional Sailing order is a phased approach to cruises restarting that is administered by the CDC.

Before cruises can fully resume, the CDC has outlined a series of steps that need to occur before cruise ships can begin taking passengers onboard.

The framework for conditional sailing is meant to potentially allow cruise ships to sail again while not putting the public health at risk.

First, ships must implement testing and other protocols for the safe return of crew. Non-revenue test sailings will follow, with vessels then required to request and receive approval to resume sailing with passengers onboard.

On its website, the CDC says the instructions are meant to ensure health and safety protections for the crew prior to resuming passenger operations in a way that mitigates the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Past attempts to get ships sailing

This is the third bill introduced to Congress in an effort to get cruises going again.

On September 16, 2020, Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio introduced the “Set Sail Safely Act”, which died after not receiving a vote.

On March 6, 2021, Two U.S. Senators, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Dan Sullivan introduced a bill to Congress to allow foreign flagged cruise ships to sail to Alaska without having to stop in Canada.

This bill is still waiting to be considered by committee before it is possibly sent on to the House or Senate as a whole.

Royal Caribbean Group CEO shares hopeful message for end of cruise industry shutdown in the U.S.

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain compared the year-long shutdown of cruises to a basketball game, where the most activity occurs at the end of the game.

In a new video update, Mr. Fain talked about the major milestones happening right now, and how it all correlates to getting cruise ships back into service.

“Like the frenetic last minutes of that basketball game, and I think that there are signs that we are approaching the end,” Fain said in his remarks.  “We all want the same thing, safe and healthy cruising.”

Included in his comments was mention of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recent update to its Framework for Conditional Sail Order (CSO), which Mr. Fain characterized as, “tougher restrictions on cruising out of U.S. ports.”

He talked about the fact the CDC said they see a way to restart in the U.S. as early as July, which he added Royal Caribbean Group is “eager to work with them towards that goal.”

“My fondest desire is that we can follow President Biden’s target of July 4th as a major reopening milestone. The evidence is that we can do it. Now is our opportunity to work together towards that common goal.”

“We look forward to such a constructive dialogue with the CDC and others to make that success even broader.”

Positive signs happening now

Richard Fain sees a lot of key milestones happening now that point to the fact things are moving in the right direction.

First, he sees the fact almost 45% of eligible Americans have already received at least their first dose of the vaccine is exciting.

Second, the cruises Royal Caribbean Group has been able to carry out abroad has provided a lot of valuable data for crafting a safe way to offer cruises going forward.

“We’re able to see what actually happens and draw conclusions based on empirical evidence rather than random hypotheses. And that empirical evidence is overwhelmingly positive.”

Third, combination of widespread testing and effective contact tracing gives Mr. Fain the confidence that they can, “reduce the risk of an outbreak on a ship to levels below that on land.”

Fourth, people are frustrated with the restrictions of life right now due to the virus.

NCL submits plan to CDC how it can restart cruises by July

Norwegian Cruise Line is thinking positive and has a plan cruise fans would love to see happen.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH) announced on Monday it has sent a letter to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that outlines a plan to be able to restart cruises beginning July 4th.

The new plan calls for 100% vaccination of guests and crew onboard, as well as strict health and safety protocols for all sailing sailing through October 31, 2021.

The company would then “follow the science” to determine if vaccines would still be required for future sailings beyond October.

NCLH represents three cruise lines: Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

The multi-layered SailSAFE Health and Safety Program was developed with the Healthy Sail Panel, a joint cooperative effort with Royal Caribbean Group.

In a statement, NCLH said it believes this is an effective and safe plan to restart operations, “Norwegian trusts and is optimistic the CDC will agree that mandatory vaccination requirements eliminate the need for the [Conditional Sailing Order] and therefore requests for the lifting of the order for Norwegian’s vessels, allowing them to cruise from U.S. ports starting July 4.”

The plan was sent to the CDC and its Director, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, which calls for the CDC to lift the Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) for all NCLH ships departing from U.S. ports effective July 4, 2021.

Vaccines required

At the heart of this plan is requiring the vaccine for guests and crew members.

If approved, 100% vaccinated guests and crew and reduced capacity initially will be part of a phased-in launch.

Read moreEverything we know about if Royal Caribbean will require a vaccine

“By requiring full and complete vaccinations of guests and crew, the Company believes it shares in the spirit and exceeds the intent of the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) to advance mutual public health goals and protect guests, crew and the communities it visits.”

The plan has five major components:

  1. NCLH will require that all guests embarking from a U.S. port and/or disembarking to a U.S. port provide proof of having been fully vaccinated with an FDA-, EMA-, or WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine no less than two weeks prior to their departure date;

  2. All crew on NCLH vessels will be fully vaccinated with an FDA-, EMA- or WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine at least two weeks prior to commencement of their duties onboard their assigned vessel;

  3. NCLH will also incorporate and operationalize the protocols developed by the Healthy Sail Panel (“HSP”), led by former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt and former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Dr. Scott Gottlieb. These protocols, include universal testing of guests and crew, combined with required vaccines for all guests and crew, thereby creating a safe, “bubble-like” environment; and

  4. On or about July 4, 2021, NCLH vessels will begin cruise operations at an initial reduced capacity of 60%, gradually ramping up our fleet departing from U.S. ports and increasing capacity by 20% every 30 days.

  5. These stringent requirements will remain in place until public health conditions allow for the implementation of more lenient protocols.

“We believe that a cruise ship with a fully vaccinated population when combined with the virus protection defenses provided by the HSP protocols is one of the safest vacation options available.”