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Royal Caribbean offering up to 35% off Cruise Planner purchases with Seas the Deals sale

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering a discount on cruise add-ons, such as drink packages, shore excursions and more, with its new sale.

The Seas the Deals offer runs between April 30 - May 5, 2021 and is valid on sailings from June 1, 2021 - April 30, 2022 (excluding Quantum of the Seas).

For Quantum of the Seas sailings, the sale is valid on sailings between May 10 2021 - April 30, 2022.

Here is what is included during the sale:

BEVERAGE: Up to 40% off 

  • Classic Soda Beverage Package: 30% off onboard prices.
  • Classic Soda Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Over 35% off onboard prices.
  • Dasani Water Cans: 40% off onboard prices.
  • Deluxe Beverage Discount varies by ship.
  • Deluxe Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Over 30% off onboard prices
  • Refreshment Package: 30% off onboard prices


  • Shore Excursions: Discount varies by ship

INTERNET: Up to 50% off

  • The Key: Discount varies by ship.
  • VOOM Surf + Stream Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship.
  • VOOM Surf Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship

DINING: Up to 60% off

  • Unlimited Dining Package on 3N – 9N sailings: Discount varies by ship

ACTIVITIES: Up to 20% off

  • All Access Ship Tour (Excludes Grandeur of the Seas)

Gifts & Gear: Up to 20% Off

  • Anniversary Decorations with Champagne
  • Happy Birthday Decorations with Chocolate Cake & Strawberries
  • Happy Birthday Decorations with Vanilla Cake & Strawberries
  • Inky Beach Set
  • Inky Beach Towel (TicTacToe)
  • Inky Travel Set
  • Red Wine and Cheese
  • Royal Caribbean Beach Towel
  • Strawberries with Champagne
  • White Wine and Cheese

PHOTO PACKAGES: Up to 70% off

  • Photo Packages: From 5 - 100 Print and/or Digital Options: Discount varies by ship
  • Photo Package: Private Photo Session: Discount varies by ship
  • Photo Package: Picture This Private Studio: Discount varies by ship

SPA: Up to $30% off

  • Spa Packages:30% off onboard prices.
    • Only on Allure, Anthem, Harmony, Independence, Navigator, Oasis, Ovation, Odissey, Quantum and Symphony of the Seas

To check if your sailing has this new offer available, log into the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's web site look for any available offers. Keep in mind that not all sailings may see the sale applicable, nor are all offers significantly cheaper than previously posted.

If you spot a better discount on something you already pre-purchased, you should be able to cancel the purchase and then re-purchase the same item under this promotion.

More helpful information

CDC update means there are now two potential timelines for cruise ships to restart

By: Matt Hochberg

The cruise industry is abuzz with the news that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has provided an update for cruise ships to restart by summer 2021.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley was quite optimistic about the chances for cruises to resume in July.

"I think this commitment to mid-July is looking very realistic based upon what we we saw last night," Bayley told Wall Street analysts during an earnings call on Thursday.

"I think the target that's been stated and that we've all been working towards is a mid July. And I think that after what we received last night, it's looking very realistic."

Part of that optimism is based in the CDC allowing cruise ships to restart cruises again and bypass test cruises if 95% of the passengers and 98% of the crew are fully vaccinated.

The changes follow up on a better relationship between the cruise industry and the CDC.  Mr. Bayley said, "we've been in very constructive dialogue with the CDC over the past few weeks."

"I think the mood of Royal Caribbean last night and late into the night and then just speaking also to some of our industry colleagues was simply positive that all of this dialogue that was constructive had resulted in and clearly being heard."

Two pathways

One of the major tenets of the CDC's letter was cruise ships can bypass the required simulated test voyages and go directly to revenue sailings if 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.

During the call, Mr. Bayley elaborated on the possibility of some ships requiring the vaccine, while others may not.

"There'll be really two pathways, one pathway for vaccinated crew and largely vaccinated guests that meet the threshold that they've defined. And that would mean that there wouldn't be a requirement for a simulated voyage etc, and there would be a different expectation on protocols and planning. So it's a faster route."

"And then for ships that wouldn't wouldn't meet that threshold for whatever reason, there would be a different timeline and a different set of protocols and requirements."

"So fundamentally that there's two pathways. It's not that simple, but that's a way of simplifying."

Both Bayley and Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain warned that there's still a lot of uncertainty about what the CDC update means, and Royal Caribbean has already reached out to the CDC for clarification.

Will enough people be vaccinated?

Mr. Bayley cited surveys of their customer base as a good sign that many cruisers are willing to, or have already, be vaccinated in order to cruise.

"There's an overwhelming certainty for our customer base. People are just saying, I'm getting vaccinated."

"And if you skew older, the percentage increases quite significantly, mainly because, of course, when the vaccinations started, it started with the older age group first."

What about the crew?

Mr. Bayley said a recent survey pointed to a survey of crew members the cruise line conducted recently as proof Royal Caribbean could meet the threshold by the CDC, "we had over 98 percent positive response from our crew saying, yeah, we're going to get vaccinated."

Royal Caribbean talks about CDC letter and what it means for kids

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain started off his call with Wall Street analysts with extremely positive news regarding a new update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Late last night, the CDC provided cruise lines with an update that opens up the possibility of cruises to restart this summer.

Mr. Fain said the letter is an example of "a significant improvement in the extent and the quality of our dialogue with the CDC."

According to Fain, the CDC has recently significantly increased its efforts in terms of improved communication between the cruise industry and the federal agency.

The updates were described as "very constructive clarifications and the amplifications" which addressed many issues Royal Caribbean had with the Conditional Sale Order (CSO). These are the same instructions that were described by the cruise industry as "unduly burdensome, largely unworkable" when they were first announced.

Mr. Fain sees the new update from the CDC as a major step forward, "We believe that this communication really helps us to see a clear and achievable pathway forward to a safe and healthy cruising in the near future."

Cautious optimism

While the news very welcomed by the cruise industry, Mr. Fain was quick to point out there are still questions to sort out.

"There are still a great many details to be provided in the future and others that need to be resolved. We need to be cautious about all of those. Nevertheless, we now have high hopes that these details can be resolved quickly."

However, Mr. Fain did not rule out a July restart, "It could be possible to restart cruising by mid-July."

"I would also emphasize that the restart does not mean that we will immediately go into full operation. We are hopeful about restarting. That restart will be gradual and deliberate."

Equal treatment

Another positive outcome from this letter is what Mr. Fain sees as a shift in how the CDC treats the cruise industry.

Fain was happy with the tone of the letter, and the CDC's increased communication, "We are pleased that the CDC letter really does reflect an intention to treat us similarly to other industries in similar circumstances."

"Our goal throughout this pandemic and then to make a cruise ship where we can control the environment safely and Main Street, USA. We've already demonstrated our ability to do that, and we are now eager to resume life, as so many other businesses are doing."

What about kids?

While the CDC has opened up the possibility for cruise ships to restart this summer, many cruise fans realized requiring 95% guests to be vaccinated means little to no children onboard in the short term.

During the earnings call with analysts, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayely spoke about what to expect as it relates to kids.

Both he and Mr. Fain cautioned the letter is new, and there are follow up questions to determine, but Bayley felt kids are not out of the question, "We really do have to sit, study and and discuss with the CDC and understand all of these these different nuances."

Mr. Bayley believes the age restriction for kids, which now stands at 16, will be lowered shortly, "We've been told that in the coming weeks and months that that age limit will likely drop to 12. And and we're encouraged by that."

So what about kids below 11?

Mr. Bayley said that age range is not enormous, "obviously we carry a lot of kids 11 and under, but relatively speaking, as a percentage of our total guest counts, it's quite a small number. So we're not overly concerned with that."

Royal Caribbean reports $1.1 billion loss in first quarter of 2021

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Group released its first quarter 2021 results on Thursday, along with a business update on where things stand right now related to the global health crisis.

While Royal Caribbean did lose $1.1 billion or $4.66 per share compared to US GAAP Net Loss, that is an improvement over the same time last year, when it lost $1.4 billion.

The Company also reported Adjusted Net Loss of $1.1 billion or $4.44 per share for the first quarter of 2021 compared to Adjusted Net Loss of $310.4 million or $1.48 per share in the prior year.

Royal Caribbean Group's monthly cash burn is approximately $300 million, which is slightly higher than the previously announced range driven mainly by fleet wide restart expenses and timing.

Positive outlook

The biggest difference in this quarter versus last quarter is the anticipated summer sailings that will begin as early as June.

A total of 11 ships across all of Royal Caribbean Group's brand will sail from the Caribbean and Europe, in addition to the four ships already sailing. 

The company said reaction to the new sailings has been "positive".

These cruises are taking place with adjusted passenger capacity and the enhanced health protocols developed with government and health authorities, and guidance from the Healthy Sail Panel.

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain also talked about the new letter from the CDC which gave a more favorable possibility of cruise ships resuming sailings from the United States this summer.

"Last night, the CDC notified us of some clarifications and amplifications of their Conditional Sail Order which addressed uncertainties and concerns we had raised," Mr. Fain said in a statement.

"They have dealt with many of these items in a constructive manner that takes into account recent advances in vaccines and medical science."

"Although this is only part of a very complex process, it encourages us that we now see a pathway to a healthy and achievable return to service, hopefully in time for an Alaskan season."

Cash outlook

With quarterly losses measured in the billions of dollars, one of the many concerns about the health of the company has been cash flow.

Royal Caribbean Group has raised approximately $12.3 billion through a combination of bond issuances, common stock offerings and other loan facilities.

Among the actions taken during the first quarter of 2021 to help include:

  • Completed a $1.5 billion equity offering at a price of $91 per share;
  • Issued $1.5 billion of 5.5% senior unsecured notes due 2028, the proceeds of which have been and will be used to repay principal on debt maturing or required to be paid in 2021 and 2022;
  • Amended its $1.0 billion term loan due April 2022 to extend the maturity date for consenting lenders by 18 months and, in connection therewith, repaid $138.5 million of principal on the facility using proceeds from the senior notes;
  • Amended its $1.55 billion revolving credit facility due October 2022 to extend the maturity date for consenting lenders by 18 months and, in connection therewith, repaid $277.6 million of principal on the facility using proceeds from the senior notes (with a corresponding reduction in commitments);
  • Completed the balance of the previously announced amendments to its export credit facilities, which in total defer $1.15 billion of principal amortization due before April 2022 and waive financial covenants through at least the end of the third quarter of 2022 and;
  • Amended the majority of its commercial bank facilities and credit card agreements to waive financial covenants through at least the end of the third quarter of 2022.

As of March 31, 2021, the Company had liquidity of approximately $5.8 billion, including $5.1 billion in cash and cash equivalents and a $0.7 billion commitment for a 364-day facility.

Bookings update

Royal Caribbean Group reports booking activity for its 2021 cruises are, "aligned with the Company's anticipated resumption of cruising."

Pricing on these bookings is higher than 2019 both including and excluding the dilutive impact of future cruise credits (FCCs).

Cumulative advance bookings for the first half of 2022 are within historical ranges and at higher prices when compared to 2019. This was achieved with minimal sales and marketing spend which the Company believes highlights a strong long-term demand for cruising.

As of March 31, 2021, the Company had approximately $1.8 billion in customer deposits, in line with its December 31, 2020 balance. Approximately 45% of the customer deposit balance is related to FCCs.

Since the suspension of guest operations on March 13, 2020, approximately 50% of the guests booked on cancelled sailings have requested cash refunds.

Report: CDC says cruise ships could restart in mid-July with 95% vaccinated passengers

By: Matt Hochberg

A new ray of hope for cruises to sail from the United States is shining down, based on the contents of a letter.

A letter sent to the cruise industry by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates a mid-July start up is possible, provided certain requirements are met.

The letter was first shared by USA Today, and provides a much more realistic outlook for cruise ships to sail in the U.S.

The letter was penned by the CDC's head of the Maritime Unit, Aimee Treffiletti, reads, "We acknowledge that cruising will never be a zero-risk activity and that the goal of the CSO’s phased approach is to resume passenger operations in a way that mitigates the risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard cruise ships and across port communities"

A CDC spokesperson then confirmed to USA Today that cruises might be able to start up by mid-July, "CDC looks forward to continued engagement with the industry and urges cruise lines to submit Phase 2A port agreements as soon as possible to maintain the timeline of passenger voyages by mid-July."

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

  1. Ships can bypass the required simulated test voyages carrying volunteers and jump to sailings with paying passengers if 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.
  2. CDC will review and respond to applications from cruise lines for simulated voyages within 5 days, a review previously expected to take 60 days.
  3. CDC will update its testing and quarantine requirements for passengers and crew on sailings with paying passengers to align with the CDC's guidance for fully vaccinated people. So, for example, instead of taking a PCR lab test ahead of boarding vaccinated passengers can take a rapid antigen test upon embarkation. 
  4. CDC has clarified that cruise ship operators may enter into a "multi-port agreement" rather than a single port agreement as long as all port and local authorities sign the agreement. 
  5. The CDC has clarified guidance on quarantine guidelines for passengers who may be exposed to or contract COVID-19. For example, local passengers may be able to drive home and passengers who have traveled by air to cruise may quarantine in a hotel.

Pressure has been mounting across different platforms to give cruise lines a chance to resume sailing.  Lawsuits, new legislation, and a vigorous write-in campaign have been some of the new initiatives thrown at the CDC after months of inaction by the agency.

The updated information in the CDC's letter follows blow back on the CDC after they released updated technical guidance for its Framework for Conditional Sailing on April 1.

The new guidance was largely seen as lacking and impractical. CLIA called it, "unduly burdensome, largely unworkable".

Moreover, it seems the CDC is still adhering to a zero-risk objective rather than the mitigation approach to Covid that so many others facets of life have adopted.

Vaccine requirement

Besides the new communication, the clause that allows cruise ships to bypass the test cruises if they have 95% fully vaccinated passengers and 98% fully vaccinated crew members is a new change.

So far, Royal Caribbean has said it has not made a decision on if it will require the vaccine for all of its ships, although all of the ships sailing this summer from the Caribbean and Europe will require it.

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

On April 5, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings submitted a proposal that included 100% vaccination of guests and crew onboard, as well as strict health and safety protocols for all sailing through October 31, 2021.

NCLH believes by requiring vaccines of every single person onboard its ships initially, in addition to comprehensive protocols including universal COVID-19 testing, their plan exceeds the intent of the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order (CSO).

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has gone on record by saying he does not think private business should be able to require a vaccine for its passengers.

"I'm very supportive of getting our cruise lines back up and running," Gov. DeSantis said in an interview. "We think they should be able to sail. But we also don't think that they should be able to require your personal health information in that regard."

Backing up his opinion is a new State of Florida Executive Order that prohibits Covid-19 vaccine passports (EO 21-81).

Section 2 of the Executive Order prohibits businesses from requiring their customers to "provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business."

Royal Caribbean reaction

So far, two of Royal Caribbean's top executives have publicly commented on the letter.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley posted on Facebook he is excited about the potential of this change, "Last night, we received great news from the CDC who expressed their commitment to the resumption of cruising this summer.

"This is a result of the consistent conversations we have been having with the agency to determine the best path for our return to service. Thank you all for making your voices heard and for believing in our industry. We will be back!"

Read moreRoyal Caribbean talks about CDC letter and what it means for kids

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain also mentioned the letter in the company's business update for investors, "

Last night, the CDC notified us of some clarifications and amplifications of their Conditional Sail Order which addressed uncertainties and concerns we had raised," Mr. Fain said in a statement.

"They have dealt with many of these items in a constructive manner that takes into account recent advances in vaccines and medical science."

Bar Harbor Survey Could Mean More Port-Specific Cruise Ship Restrictions

By: Ashley Kosciolek

Another town is re-evaluating the role of cruise ships that visit its shores.

The town of Bar Harbor, Maine, is asking residents for their feedback on whether cruise restrictions need to be tighter, making it the latest port municipality to publicly evaluate the effect cruise tourism has on the local population.

According to News Center Maine, the port currently limits cruise travelers to 3,500 passengers per day in July and August and 5,500 per day during the rest of the year. But a recent survey is allowing local residents and business owners to weigh in directly with regard to whether those numbers need to be cut.

"I'm very interested to hear what a majority of our residents think and also to hear what the businesses think," said Town Councilor Gary Friedman, as reported by News Center Maine.

"Some believe that all businesses love cruise ships but that's just not true. Many of them don’t benefit and even feel that their businesses or hurt by the impacts of cruise visitation."

"... it's gotten overwhelming where it's impacting our quality of life here, as well as the businesses that cater to overnight guests," Friedman said.

It was not immediately clear when the survey would end or when the results would be shared.

Congestion is not a new issue for Bar Harbor, which sees about $1 million annually in revenue generated by the cruise industry. The town's official government website shows that a "Cruise Tourism & Traffic Congestion" study was conducted there in 2019 to analyze issues like parking shortages and the types of infrastructure needed to continue to welcome cruise passengers.

In 2020, Bar Harbor's town council voted to ban cruise ships for the entire year -- a move which was later found to have been unnecessary, thanks to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's no sail order and subsequent conditional sailing framework.

The port isn't expected to see any ships for the remainder of 2021, either.

As Bar Harbor reevaluates its cruise-related regulations, it becomes the latest port of call to question the effects of cruise ships and the large numbers of travelers they bring.

In recent years, Dubrovnik and Venice have placed limits on the size of cruise ships allowed to call and, as a result, they have also limited the number of cruise passengers permitted to visit at one time.

In November 2020, more than half of Key West voters leaned in favor of referendums allowing the local government to restrict cruise ship size and number of daily passengers.

That prompted two Florida state officials to introduce a bill that would undermine those policies. After passing in the Senate in April 2021, the bill died due to the state's likely inability to enforce it at a local level.

Juneau residents are also slated to vote on a referendum in October 2021 that could cut down on large cruise ships or limit the number of ships and passengers calling on any given day.

Florida House Will Not Vote on Bill to Reverse Key West Cruise Ship Limitations

By: Ashley Kosciolek

A bill proposed to block municipalities from limiting maritime commerce in Florida's major ports has been scrapped, for now.

In November 2020, more than half of Key West-based voters passed referendums limiting the size of cruise ships, the number of daily passengers and cruise lines with poor environmental records from calling on the island's cruise port.

Under the new measures, the maximum number of passengers in port will not be allowed to exceed 1,500 per day, and ships carrying more than 1,300 passengers will not be allowed to call. That effectively excludes all modern vessels from major lines like Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line.

What is Senate Bill 426, the bill in question?

In response to the November vote, Republican Representative Spencer Roach and Senator Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) introduced a broad bill -- SB 426, "State Preemption of Seaport Regulations" -- that aimed to undermine the new Key West regulations and block similar types of restrictions from taking effect at the local level in Florida's other deep-water seaports.

The bill focuses on the economic benefits that come with seaport operations and proposes to restrict the ability of local governments to limit maritime traffic.

Boyd previously said that allowing cities to have their own rules about maritime commerce could cause problems for the Sunshine State.

"Allowing each local government in which a Florida seaport is located to impose its own requirements on the maritime commerce conducted in that port could result in abrupt changes in the supply lines bringing goods into and out of this state, thus disrupting Florida's economy and threatening the public's health, safety, and welfare."

Following pushback from the local governments at which the original bill was aimed, Roach and Boyd revised the bill several times -- so much so that it eventually targeted Key West, specifically.

Although the bill recently passed in the Senate, 25-14, officials have questioned whether the bill's limitations are constitutional at a local level.

The bill, as currently written, deals generally with maritime restrictions and would, therefore, likely not be enforceable with regard to individual municipalities, such as Key West.

As a result, the bill will not come before the House for a vote during the current session. But, as reported by the Miami Herald, Roach said he hopes to revise it and bring it back for consideration again next year.

What else is happening in Florida?

In early April, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis filed a lawsuit against the United States Government in an attempt to force the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies to allow cruise ships to resume sailing.

The cruises have been barred from operating out of U.S. ports since March 2020, and DeSantis says it's time to put those who rely on the cruise industry for employment back to work.

The CDC revoked its no sail order in October 2020, replacing it with a conditional sailing framework, outlining what cruise lines would need to do in order to receive approval to restart operations in America.

Since that time, cruise lines have implemented new health and safety protocols, but the CDC has done little to allow ships to progress to the next step in the process -- non-revenue test sailings.

Royal Caribbean will deploy Rhapsody of the Seas to Barbados beginning November 2022

By: Matt Hochberg

Another Royal Caribbean cruise ship will call Barbados home.

Rhapsody of the Seas will begin sailing from Bridgetown, Barbados in November 2022.

Royal Caribbean has plans for Grandeur of the Seas to sail from this Southern Caribbean island beginning this fall.

The new sailings are available to book immediately for winter 2022-2023.

There are a number of 5-, 7-, 8-, and 14-night cruises to choose from, visiting destinations such as Trinidad, Grenada, Guadeloupe and more.

On the on 14-night sailings, Rhapsody is offering overnights in ports like Aruba and Cartagena.

Second ship to sail from Barbados

Since the cruise industry shutdown due to the global health crisis, Royal Caribbean's relationship with the island of Barbados has strengthened.

Barbados was one of the few ports letting ships dock in its waters and exchange crew members in 2020.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley is the co-chair of a task force along with the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley, which is aimed at working on the safe return of cruising to the Caribbean.

In addition, Grandeur of the Seas will begin sailing from Barbados in December 2021. At the time, it was the first Royal Caribbean ship to be announced to sail from outside the United States in an effort to get around the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ban on cruise ships from the United States.

The new sailings run between December 2021 and April 2022, although more sailings could be added if the sailings prove to be popular.

A variety of 7-night sailings are available to book immediately. There are three different itineraries, including two separate 7-night sailings and a 14-night sailing with stops in St. Lucia, Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent, Grenada, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, and more.

Where are Royal Caribbean's cruise ships right now? April 2021

By: Matt Hochberg

While there are not going to be any Royal Caribbean cruise ships operating outside of Singapore, you might be wondering where the rest of the cruise ships are located.

Royal Caribbean's cruise ships are in a state of warm layup around the world in strategically located areas to be near resupply ports.

This allows the ships to easily get into port to offload waste, bring on new supplies, and sometimes exchange out the skeleton crew working onboard.

During this period of no cruises, the ships primarily stay in place, but a few have changed locations from time to time.

This information was gathered, and accurate, as of April 27, 2021.


  • Symphony of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Explorer of the Seas
  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Mariner of the Seas
  • Navigator of the Seas
  • Liberty of the Seas

St. Maarten

  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Brilliance of the Seas
  • Rhapsody of the Seas
  • Vision of the Seas
  • Grandeur of the Seas
  • Adventure of the Seas


  • Serenade of the Seas

Southampton, England

  • Jewel of the Seas


  • Anthem of the Seas

Cadiz, Spain

  • Harmony of the Seas (in dry dock)

Limassol, Cyprus

  • Odyssey of the Seas


  • Quantum of the Seas
  • Radiance of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Voyager of the Seas
  • Spectrum of the Seas

What are cruise ships doing while there aren't any cruises?

Quantum of the Seas is the only Royal Caribbean cruise ship operating right now, but the rest of the fleet is being manned by a skeleton crew while they wait to restart sailings.

This is referred to as "warm lay up", and it means the ship is operational and ready to quickly resume cruises again once they are given the go-ahead to do so.

By keeping the ships in warm lay up instead of cold lay up, they can more quickly get back into service when the time is right.  The downside to warm lay up is it costs Royal Caribbean more money to keep the ships operating in this state.

Read moreWhat does it mean when a cruise ship goes into cold lay-up?

During the cruise industry shutdown, most ships remain in place unless there is a compelling need to move, such as a dry dock.

If you track cruise ships on the internet, you might see one ship occasionally come into port to receive new supplies and unload waste. In the United States, PortMiami has been the most commonly used destination for ships nearby to resupply.

When will Royal Caribbean ships sail again?

Currently, only Quantum of the Seas is the only ship sailing, but more ships are preparing to restart operations.

Five ships will restart sailings this summer from outside the United States in June and July 2021.

  • Adventure of the Seas from Nassau, Bahamas in June 2021
  • Vision of the Seas from Bermuda in June 2021
  • Odyssey of the Seas from Haifa, Israel in June 2021
  • Anthem of the Seas from Southampton, England in July 2021
  • Jewel of the Seas from sail Limassol, Cyprus in July 2021

The rest of the fleet is shutdown through the end of June 2021, although more cancellations are likely.

Royal Caribbean is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to receive permission to start cruises again.

During Royal Caribbean Group's fourth quarter 2020 earnings call with investors, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley reported Royal Caribbean has been in "regular communication" with the CDC and expects to get technical instructions on what each ship needs to do in order to prepare itself for test cruises.

Test cruises will be the opportunity for cruise lines to demonstrate they can operate in a safe manner through a variety of new protocols.

The reality is no one really know when exactly cruises will start, and that means Royal Caribbean's ships will remain idle around the world until the company is ready to start operations up.

When they do start cruising again, do not expect all 26 ships to resume sailings immediately. Royal Caribbean has said repeatedly it expects to start with a few ships that can sail to its private destinations first, and then expand operations from there.

Royal Caribbean Group CFO Jason Liberty noted the company could add a second ship outside of the U.S. soon, "We are already operating Quantum of the Seas in Singapore, and our second ship in the water could also be outside of the US."

The best expectation is for a handful of ships beginning at first, with a phased approach to bringing the entire fleet back.

Royal Caribbean asks Galveston for extra time to complete new cruise terminal in case ships cannot sail

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has a deal to build a new cruise terminal in Galveston, Texas, but the longer the cruise industry shutdown goes, the longer it could take for Royal Caribbean to finish it.

The longer the delay in cruise ships resuming sailing from the United States could impact the new terminal. Royal Caribbean was set to open it by fall 2022, but now, it could be off by a year.

The Port of Galveston Board of Trustees has agreed to the contract amendment by approving a second amendment to the contract on Tuesday for the new Royal Caribbean cruise terminal.  

Although the due diligence period expired on April 9th, this second amendment formally waives the due diligence period and makes this a firm contract.  The due diligence period had given Royal Caribbean Group the ability to cancel the contract up to the April 9th date, but that leverage is now gone.

The contract maintains a target completion date of September 1, 2022 to complete the terminal, which is well ahead of the planned arrival of Allure of the Seas on November 13, 2022.  Allure of the Seas will be arriving from Barcelona, Spain.

To allow for the uncertainty around the resumption of cruising and potential difficulties getting financing for the project, the latest date when Royal Caribbean must complete the project and begin paying rent was extended three months to 9/30/2023.  

Royal Caribbean had asked for a 6-month extension but negotiations resulted in only a 3-month extension. The cruise line is obligated to begin paying rent when the first ship docks at the new terminal, but not later than September 30, 2023.  

Quoted in the Galveston Daily News, Port Director Rodger Rees said that ideally the extension won’t come into play at all. "I think the opening date of the terminal will depend on when the cruise lines commence cruising in the U.S.," Rees said.

"Construction will need to begin by July or August to have the terminal completed by November of 2022. If cruising commences much later than July or August, it will be tough to expect to have the cruise terminal finished by November of 2022."

Trustee Elizabeth Beeton was also quoted in the Daily News and pointed out that at this point there would be significant financial consequences if Royal Caribbean backs out. "If Royal fails to perform, they owe the port several million dollars," Beeton said. She said Royal Caribbean’s extension request wasn’t particularly significant.

In summary, the contract is now firm, Royal Caribbean intends to be ready for Allure’s arrival on November 13, 2022, but they have the contractual flexibility to delay completion to as late as September 30, 2023 if the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to block cruising in the United States and there are other roadblocks to financing the project.

The Port of Galveston has been working on their portion of the project throughout the Covid pandemic and remains on track to support the project with utilities, parking lots, road and traffic improvements, landscaping, dredging, and other work.

The Port of Galveston and the Royal Caribbean project team began bi-weekly project meetings several months ago.

The global health crisis caused the new port project to be delayed. Royal Caribbean announced a new cruise terminal deal in December 2019, with an anticipated completion date of November 2021.

In March 2020, Royal Caribbean asked Galveston to delay the start of construction by a year.

Allure of the Seas is scheduled to begin sailing from Galveston, Texas in November 2022.

Special thanks to Steve Ritter for his contributions to this article.