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Royal Caribbean Group pledges support to buy Alaska products

In:
27Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Facing another year without cruise ships, Alaska's small businesses are in grave danger, and Royal Caribbean is doing its part to help them out.

Royal Caribbean Group announced it will support the Shop Local Alaska Program, which generates revenue for port town businesses. Royal Caribbean Group is the first major travel supplier to hop on board with the Shop Local Alaska program in support of keeping Alaska’s small businesses open for when cruise visitors return to Alaska.

This is an initiative by the BuyAlaska Program and Voyij.com, an online marketplace exclusively for Alaska businesses. It was created due to the uncertainty of the 2021 cruise season in an effort to allow local businesses to survive another year without cruises.

You can visit the Shop Local Alaska website at https://shoplocal.voyij.com.

Without cruise ships, Alaska will lose out on 1.3 million tourists who might have spent money in these small towns.

Royal Caribbean Group has agreed to raise awareness of Alaskan-owned businesses in port towns that are struggling to survive. 

The Shop Local Alaska Program will be marketed to guests of the company’s cruise lines — Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises — around the globe.

They will be able to browse virtual Alaskan stores and buy with confidence on  Voyij.com during this period when ships are not able to take them there. The site offers a wide variety of Alaskan products; from locally caught fish to beautiful Alaskan jewelry to Native Art to clothing of the North. Any Alaskan-owned business can list their products on the Voyij  Marketplace.

"Alaska is the premier destination place in the world,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy.

"I am committed to deploying all resources that result in increased partnerships like the “Shop Local Alaska” initiative that spurs Alaska’s economy and directly benefits small businesses across our state."

Why can't cruise ships sail to Alaska?

A combination of the ban on cruise ships from American and Canadian waters is what is putting the 2021 cruise season in jeopardy.

Both countries have policies in place at the moment that prohibit nearly all cruise ships from sailing to Alaska.

In the case of the United States, the Conditional Sail Order (CSO) does not allow cruise ships to sail from U.S. waters due to the global health crisis.

Even if the United States lifted that ban, ships would not be able to visit Alaska ports until Canada lifts its ban.

Canada's ban will prevent Alaska sailings out of Seattle via Canada because of maritime law.

The Passenger Vessel Service Act (PVSA) of 1886 requires foreign flagged cruise ships to call on a foreign port if sailing a closed-loop cruise form the United States.

This means, cruise ships cannot sail from Seattle and only visit Alaska ports.  Cruise ships must make a stop outside the country, and Canada is the only place between Seattle and Alaska.

CDC says fully vaccinated Americans don’t need masks outside in most cases

In:
27Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Recommendations for wearing face masks among the full vaccinated just changed, which may have an impact on cruise line protocols.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Tuesday it has adjusted its guidelines for wearing of masks outdoors.

Specifically, if you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to wear a face mask outdoors unless in crowded settings.

CDC data showed as of this week, nearly 30% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated and more than 42% have received at least one dose.

Under the new guidance, fully vaccinated individuals can unmask while walking, running, hiking or biking outdoors alone or with members of their household.

The CDC says people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks during outdoor activities, such as walking, biking, running alone or with members of their household. Masks are not needed in small outdoor gatherings among fully vaccinated people.

As for unvaccinated people, the CDC says vaccinated people should wear masks at outdoor gatherings that include other unvaccinated people. 

There is also no need for fully vaccinated individuals to wear a mask at outdoor restaurants with friends from multiple households.

However, vaccinated people should  wear masks at indoor public places, such as hair salons, restaurants, shopping centers, museums and movie theaters.

What about masks on cruise ships?

Royal Caribbean has not announced its health protocols for cruises sailing from North America or Europe this summer outside of the United States, but face masks are almost certainly going to be required to be worn.

Onboard Quantum of the Seas in Singapore, wearing a face mask is mandatory.

On Quantum, guests are required to wear masks outdoors on the pool deck, unless they are in the pool, drinking, eating, or actively engaging in a designated activity (i.e. the Flowrider surf simulator).

Whether or not the CDC's updated guidance will change Royal Caribbean's health protocols in the short term remain to be seen.

Royal Caribbean's health protocols during the global health crisis have been shaped by the Healthy Sail Panel, a joint venture between the Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

The panel is made up of of scientists and public health experts, chaired by Governor Mike Leavitt and Dr. Scott Gottlieb.

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said cruise line protocols will change with the science, "As the science continues to progress, I think we will change and we will adjust to that. And I think we're now trying to predict the future. Remember, these cruises don't start till June."

10 Vision of the Seas tips, tricks and secrets

In:
27Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Have a cruise on Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas? There is plenty onboard to enjoy for guests of all ages.

Like all cruise ships, there are a few good tips and tricks to maximize your time and money onboard.

Here are my best tips for someone sailing on Vision of the Seas.

Park Cafe is a must eat spot

There is plenty of good food onboard Vision of the Seas, but a great spot for complimentary food throughout the day is Park Cafe.

Located in the Solarium, you can find some of the best quick grab-and-go food choices here. Soup, sandwiches, dessert and more are available.

Be sure to try the famous roast beef sandwich here at least once!

Park Cafe is also a great alternative to the Windjammer on embarkation day because it will be far less crowded.

And yes, kids are allowed to go to Park Cafe, even though it is located in the adults-only Solarium area.

Don't miss the events in the Centrum

Throughout the day and night, Royal Caribbean hosts events at the base of the Centrum.

The large open space is where you will find live music, demonstrations, game shows and more.

The great thing about seeing shows in the Centrum is you can quickly see what is happening from one of the overlooking decks.  If it interests you, pull up a chair and enjoy. If not, you can move on to somewhere else onboard.

Read more: Cruise Compass archive

Free sauna and steam room

The fitness center locker rooms have a free sauna, steam room, and very large showers for anyone to use free of charge. 

The showers are great for families, and the sauna and steam rooms are lesser-known amenities open to guests on Vision of the Seas.

Restaurants included with your cruise on Vision of the Seas

Wondering where you can eat with no additional cost on Vision of the Seas?

Here is a list of options:

  • Windjammer (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • Main Dining Room (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • Cafe Latte-tude (Early morning until late night)
  • Park Cafe (afternoon and late night snacks)

Read moreFood on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Save money with a specialty dining package

If you plan on eating at more than 1 or 2 specialty restaurants while on Vision of the Seas, you probably should invest in a dining package.

Specialty dining packages offer a fixed cost for some, or even unlimited, specialty restaurants during your cruise.

There are three specialty restaurants on Vision of the Seas that are included with the packages:

  • Giovanni's Table
  • Chop's Grille
  • Izumi

Be sure to buy dining packages before your cruise to save even more money.

Keep in mind there may be some extra cost items at these locations, and Chef's Table is not included with the specialty dining package.

Overnight in Bermuda

Just for summer 2021 cruises, Vision of the Seas will not only sail from Bermuda, but also offer guests an overnight to explore Bermuda’s culture, history and cuisine.

The ship will offer an overnight stay in Bermuda, which means the ship acts like a floating hotel, where you can come and go as you please to provide plenty of time to enjoy everything Bermuda has to offer.

An overnight stay in any port is a special experience, and allows much more flexibility in making plans, as well as being able to enjoy the nightlife of the island.

Read Cruise Compass to see entertainment each night

There will be nightly entertainment around the ship, so be sure to read about what is offered in your Cruise Compass.

Each evening, your stateroom attendant will deliver a new copy of the next day's schedule.  You can also find the schedule in Royal Caribbean's app.

It is a good idea to read about what is coming up, so you can plan ahead for the must-see shows.

Download Royal Caribbean's app

Royal Caribbean's app has gone from "nice to have" to "must have" quite quickly, and it is your key for a smoother experience overall.

Not only does Royal Caribbean's app allow for a smoother and faster embarkation process, it makes managing your schedule super easy.

Royal Caribbean has even said that its app is required, so download the app before you leave home and ensure it is set up prior to arriving.

Read moreThe Royal Caribbean App: Everything you should know

Register kids for Adventure Ocean on the first day

If you have kids, there is complimentary kids programming that is supervised and a lot of fun.

Children are separated into different age groups to ensure programming is appropriate:

  • Aquanauts: 3-5 years old
  • Explorers: 6-8 years old
  • Voyagers: 9-11 years old
  • Teens: 12-14, 15-17 years old.

Adventure Ocean is run every day, but you want to register them on the first day of your cruise.

There will be an open house held (usually in the early afternoon) of the first day of the cruise, so be sure to go up to meet the staff and meet the staff. Plus, it will save you time later.

Read moreCruising with kids on Royal Caribbean

Make plans for your visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay

Summer sailings on Vision of the Seas will stop at Royal Caribbean's private island of Perfect Day at CocoCay, and it is a must-see destination.

The key to having an amazing day here is to pre-purchase any add-ons you want to try.

CocoCay has so many great things to do, including a water park, zip lines, cabanas to rent, beaches, and even a giant pool.

Read morePerfect Day at CocoCay prices and costs

Be sure to check out what is available to book before your cruise.  If something is of interest, you should absolutely pre-book it to secure a spot. Many amenities can easily sell out, or cost more if you wait to book onboard the ship.

You should also know that there is plenty of great things to do at CocoCay without spending a dime extra. The island's beaches and pool are included with your cruise fare, along with most of the dining establishments.

Read moreTop 10 Perfect Day at CocoCay secrets and tricks

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

In:
27Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Whether it is the CDC, a lawmaker, or family member, people will bring up what happened to cruise ships in early 2020 as a reason why cruises should not restart now.

Similar to how some people still bring up what happened to the Titanic as all they need to know about not taking a cruise, the events at the beginning of the global health crisis involving a couple of cruise ships in Asia led to sensational headlines and those memories still dominate the discussion related to why cruise ships cannot sail again now.

Perhaps no one has been more focused on what happened in January 2020 than the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), who still cite events that occurred on the Diamond Princess and Grand Princess cruise ships in January 2020 as proof unrestricted cruise ship travel would be dangerous.

Pages 8 through 11 of the CDC's Conditional Sail Order go into great detail to document what happened on those ships more than 15 months ago.

What happened on cruise ships in January 2020, just like all around the world, were reflections of a naive society beginning to learn about how this new virus functioned and spread.

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.

Our knowledge of Covid is much different now

The principal problem with comparing what happened to a ship like the Diamond Princess or Grand Princess to a ship sailing today is that our knowledge of the virus is completely different.

In January 2020, very little was known about Covid, and the Japanese government simply isolated the ship and let the people and crew onboard sit there until the virus "burnt itself out", similar to how firefighters might let a fire burn to prevent it spreading elsewhere.

The World Health Organization (WHO) stated in January 2020 it was still trying to determine, "exact ways its spread and the incubation period."

Public health officials at the time said wearing masks were useful "but have a limited effect". 

Since then, everyone's knowledge of Covid and how it spreads and how to mitigate its spread has changed significantly.

Knowledge of how Covid works today makes the assumptions and treatment of it in January 2020 null and void.

New health protocols

Besides not really knowing much about Covid in early 2020, cruise ships back then had absolutely no protocols on place to mitigate the spread of the virus onboard.

Just like how airplanes, theme parks, and pretty much every facet of life had no safeguards in place, cruise ships were operating in early 2020 without the new strict protocols that any ship sailing today would absolutely mandate.

Royal Caribbean, and the entire cruise industry, has already committed to adopting sweeping new health protocols and changes onboard that would largely prevent the spread of Covid on a ship.

In just one ship sailing from Singapore, Royal Caribbean has committed to guests wearing face masks, universal testing of every single passenger and crew member, strict contact tracing, social distancing and more.

These, and other new protocols, will almost certainly be implemented on any ship sailing in 2021. This makes the conditions onboard ships from early 2020 completely uncharacteristic of what it will be like on a ship sailing today.

Moreover, these health protocols make cruise ships safer than many other forms of travel, where little to no testing is done of customers.

Read more5 ways the CDC proves it doesn't understand cruise ships

Agreements with ports

Just as important as the new health protocols, is the cruise lines are ensuring no ship can be isolated and left quarantined indefinitely by working with local governments for an emergency action plan.

Every cruise line is keenly aware the memory of those Princess cruise ships quarantined off the coast of Japan still resonates with many potential customers as cause for concern not to book.

As a result, Royal Caribbean has announced it has deals in place with local governments it sails from to ensure if there was a case onboard, the cruise line would get guests home safely.

For sailings on Quantum of the Seas from Singapore, Royal Caribbean partnered with Singapore's health authorities to ensure they can get guests home safely.  These transport agreements in Singapore are part of the plan to avoid being "stuck" on a cruise ship.

For sailings this summer from the Caribbean, Royal Caribbean has a "a robust, tiered response plan".

In the event that a guest or crew member tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 onboard, a robust, tiered response plan will be activated and is in accordance with guidance from local authorities and leading public health experts. The tiers increase protocols and vigilance onboard, while providing transparent correspondence to guests throughout the process. In partnership with local authorities, Royal Caribbean has developed transport protocols to ensure impacted guests get home safely. Thanks to rapid technology-enabled contact tracing, potential exposure to other guests and crew can be promptly identified and an action plan enabled.

Concerned this sounds like all talk, and if a case were to really happen onboard governments would balk? We already know that will not be the case.

In December 2020, there was a positive case on Quantum of the Seas sailing from Singapore.

It turned out to be a false positive, but the ship was allowed to immediately return to Singapore and all guests were able to disembark safely and in a timely fashion.

The vaccine

On top of all the protocols and agreements, vaccines are something that did not exist in early 2020.

While Royal Caribbean is still deciding if it will require the vaccine or not across the fleet, ships sailing this summer will definitely require it for adults onboard in the interim.

Moreover, vaccine requirements or not, a lot of people are getting the vaccine anyway, and that greatly mitigates the at risk population onboard.

At the very least, the first cruise ships sailing this summer will require adults onboard to be vaccinated, as well as every single crew member. 

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

Real world proof ships can sail safely

Not only is everything listed here backed up by input from leading public health officials, this approach to safely cruising is already happening in parts of the world since summer 2020.

Based on public reporting, almost 400,000 passengers that have sailed during the global health crisis with fewer than 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19 onboard Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) member cruise line ships since resumption started last summer.

This has demonstrated the new health protocols work, and more importantly, no cruise ship has been left isolated in a manner like those ships in early 2020.

Royal Caribbean will use Nassau hotel for Adventure of the Seas passenger check-in

In:
26Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Among the changes Royal Caribbean will have for guests sailing this summer on Adventure of the Seas from a new homeport is a different check-in area.

Adventure of the Seas will begin offering cruises from Nassau, Bahamas in June 2021, and this is a brand new offering for both Royal Caribbean and the Bahamas.

Traditionally, guests report to a cruise terminal for the check-in and boarding procedure, but it appears that will not be the case for guests on Adventure.

A passenger sailing on the June 12 sailing of Adventure of the Seas reported being told the British Colonial Hilton resort in downtown Nassau will be used as a staging ground for check-in and boarding.

Doug Swallow shared the information after talking to Royal Caribbean about purchasing airport transfers.

"The hotel is being used as the staging point for boarding the ship since there are no facilities currently at the pier," he posted on Facebook.  "The hotel is one of the closer things to the pier itself."

Confirming the change is Michael Maura, the Nassau Cruise Port’s chief executive, who told The Tribune he is meeting this week with executives from Nassau Airport Development Company, the Lynden Pindling International Airport operator, to discuss the transfer of incoming cruise passengers to the downtown Nassau cruise port.

Mr. Maura said Royal Caribbean is planning to use a reception room in the British Colonial Hilton resort for check-in.

Passengers’ bags will go from there to the cruise port, where they will be screened before being placed on the vessel.

Luggage scanning equipment will be installed to screen passengers’ bags is due to arrive on New Providence in “the next couple of weeks”, according to Mr. Maura.

Nassau Cruise Port is working extensively with the cruise lines and Bahamian  law enforcement to determine the flow, handling and other details required for this.

Bahamian companies, with manpower and forklifts, will be hired to deal with bags belonging to 1,500 Royal Caribbean passenger.

Adventure of the Seas will be the first Royal Caribbean ship to sail from North America in well over a year, beginning with her June cruises.

Check-in process outline

During a webinar with Bahamian officials, Royal Caribbean's Associate Vice President, Gaming & Onboard Revenue, Elisa Shen, outlined the plan right now for guest embarkation.

Ms. Shen warned these are subject to change.

On the day of the cruise, Royal Caribbean will offer an opportunity for guests to drop off their luggage at the British Colonial Hilton before their official check-in time.

That way, guests can tour Nassau without being encumbered by their belongings while they wait for their official check-in appointment.

Check-in times at the British Colonial Hilton will range between 1pm and 7pm.

Ms. Shen added that guests at the airport on the day of the cruise could drop off their luggage with Royal Caribbean. Guests coming to Nassau a day or more prior to the cruise can drop off luggage at the hotel.

At their appointment, times guests will report to the British Colonial Hilton where they will get an antigen test. Upon testing negative, guests will then be taken directly to the ship.

European Union to allow fully vaccinated Americans during summer 2021

In:
26Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

There is good news for Americans who are thinking about going to Europe this summer, especially on a cruise.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, told the New York Times that Americans who have been fully vaccinated, will be allowed to visit European countries over the summer.

"All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by E.M.A."

Prior to this announcement, nonessential travel to the European Union has been officially banned except for a few countries with low Covid cases.

It is not clear exactly when this change would become available. In addition, these plans depend on the status of Covid at the time, but rapidly improving situations in the United States and Europe compelled the change.

Countries with a large tourist base, such as Greece, have been lobbying for the change.

It appears Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Croatia are the countries leading the charge to allow Americans, since their economy relies so heavily on tourism.

Technical discussions have been going on for several weeks between European Union and United States officials on how to practically and technologically make vaccine certificates from each place broadly readable so that citizens can use them to travel without restrictions.

While Royal Caribbean has announced a few ships that will sail from Europe this summer, most of its European cruise season remains in flux, similar to the cruise situation in the United States.

So far, Jewel of the Seas will sail from Cyprus to Greece, and those sailings are open for bookings by Americans.

Anthem of the Seas is sailing from England, and Odyssey of the Seas from Israel, although both of those ships are limited to residents of their respective homeport countries.

Harmony of the Seas still has scheduled sailings from Barcelona for summer 2021, and  Rhapsody of the Seas has sailings from Venice (Ravenna), Italy.

While this recommendation by the European Commission will be put forth, individual member states may reserve the right to keep stricter limits. Moreover, other restrictions may be implemented by member states, including quarantines.

Report: Royal Caribbean temporarily halts hiring new crew members from India

In:
26Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

The latest impact the global health crisis has had on the cruise industry is now hiring.

The amount of new coronavirus cases in India continues to climb, creating a major health emergency in the country. 

India's health ministry reported 352,991 more infections, taking the total past 17 million. A record 2,812 deaths were confirmed Monday, taking the total to 195,123 since the pandemic began.

India set a new record daily cases for a fourth straight day on Sunday.

A new report indicates Royal Caribbean has paused hiring crew members from India due to the rapid escalation of cases there.

The Crewcenter website shared the contents of a letter sent by Royal Caribbean that the company has decided to "temporary cancel all assignments for shipboard employees from India or people who reside in this country".

Royal Caribbean's letter to crew members reads as follows, "It’s always unfortunate when we must cancel assignments but we believe this is a prudent decision at this time. We know how much our crew look forward to returning to work after waiting for so long."

"We also understand how tough it can be to have to make last minute travel changes. It’s not the way that we want to operate, but it is the reality of the quick changes we need to make based on different reasons that are often unplanned and beyond our direct control."

"Those crew members who are currently at hotels pending joining a ship or are currently en route (already flying) will be notified and accommodation will be provided under quarantine guidelines till further notice. They will be kept informed by the HR ops team as needed."

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reached out to the Royal Caribbean Group for confirmation of the new policy, and a spokesperson indicated there has been a shift in hiring from India.

"We continue to monitor impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world including travel restrictions to and from areas with a high rate of cases."

"To ensure the continued health and safety of our crew, guests and the residents of the destination we visit, we are currently exercising extra caution in the movement of any crew from India to our ships due to the recent surge of COVID-19."

Royal Caribbean is in the midst of preparing a few of its cruise ships to restart sailings this summer, and getting crew members back onboard is a critical piece to resume sailings.

Royal Caribbean's cruise ships have been manned by skeleton crews during the industry shutdown, and any vessel that is going to offer sailings this summer would need to get back enough crew members to support the guests sailing.

Based on posts seen on social media, Royal Caribbean is in the process of hiring back at least some crew members to its ships. 

Many are in various phases of quarantine to prepare them to join the ship in a few weeks.

Five cruise ships are expected to restart sailings this summer outside of the United States, including Adventure, Vision, Odyssey, Anthem and Jewel of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: April 25, 2021

In:
25Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

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.

Florida Senate passes bill that would overrule Key West cruise ship ban

In:
24Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Key West's cruise ship ban is one step potentially closer to getting undone.

A new bill in Florida's state legislature that would supersede Key West's initiative to limit cruise ship activity has passed the Florida Senate.

Senate Bill 426, known as the "State Preemption of Seaport Regulations", passed a vote in Florida's senate in a 24 to 14 vote.

One senator did not vote.

The bill would essentially bypass Key West's city ordinance that prohibits most cruise ship traffic.

In November 2020, Key West residents voted to approve a limit on cruise ship traffic to Key West. The three proposals effectively ban large cruise ships from Key West, such as the entire fleet of Royal Caribbean vessels.

Key West's referendums limited cruise ship visitors to a total of 1,500 per day; prohibited ships with a capacity of 1,300 or more from disembarking passengers; and gave priority docking to cruise lines with the best environmental and health records.

Florida State Senator Jim Boyd of District 21 introduced a new bill that would "restrict or regulate commerce in the seaports", such as Key West.

The bill spells out the economic benefit Florida's ports have, and proposes to disallow local government's ability to restrict communities or cities from limiting maritime traffic.

State Senator Boyd indicated in the bill that allowing cities to have its own rules about "maritime commerce" could create a problem for the 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."

Not at the finish line yet

Passing a vote in Florida's senate is an important milestone, but the bill is not yet law.

It needs to next pass the Florida House of Representatives before becoming law.

In addition, the House vote has not yet been scheduled.

Opposition to the bill

Leading the fight against the bill is the same group that championed Key West's legislation, Key West Committee for Safer Cleaner Ships.

"Everybody who lives in the Florida Keys over the past year without the large cruise ships noticed the waters like a miracle get clearer," said Arlo Haskell with the Key West Committee for Safer Cleaner Ships.

Mr. Haskell said cruise revenue accounts for about seven percent of all tourist spending in Key West in a normal year. Ships will continue to dock, he notes, although only the smaller ones.

"The goal is to make Key West the premier small-ship destination," Haskell said.

In addition, Mr. Haskell indicated he is working to get a veto by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, "We’re still working to lobby the House chamber, and are focused on getting the governor to veto it if it passes the House."

The big questions for Royal Caribbean's 1st quarter earnings call next week

In:
23Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Group has scheduled its first quarter 2021 earnings call with investors for next week. These earnings calls are some of our best opportunities as cruise fans to hear a status update from the cruise line

The purpose of the call is to provide a business update and discuss first quarter 2021 financial results.

Earnings calls are hosted by Royal Caribbean Group's top executives, and it is a combination of disclosures, prepared statements and answering questions from Wall Street analysts. 

Royal Caribbean Group will host their call at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time, Thursday, April 29, 2021.

Executives may start off the call with some insight into where they see things headed in the near term, but the bulk of the call will be investors asking the cruise line executives about things not in the report, which may have an impact on guests as well.

As we gear up for this conference call, here are the big questions cruise fans are just as eager to know answers to as Wall Street.

Everything and anything about the CDC

You can bet a lot of questions are going to be about determining the relationship Royal Caribbean Group has with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and where things are (or not) headed.

While the company is slowly getting back up on its feet outside of the United States, cruises domestically remain completely shutdown and there still is no firm answer when that may change.

Investors are going to want to get a sense of when Royal Caribbean believes the stalemate of cruise ship travel may change. While it is doubtful the company will reveal any kind of top secret plan for when exactly cruises will sail again, answers from executives may shed light on what their thoughts are, and what they are hearing and seeing currently.

It remains to be seen if any of the public pressure, legislation, or lawsuits will change the CDC's authority, so in the meantime, the start of test cruises is another big question.

Up until now, there has been no indication at all by any cruise line that test cruises are on the horizon.

Test cruises are a requirement of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC)'s Conditional Sail Order to demonstrate that the new health protocols the cruise line proposes will actually work.

Test cruises are seen as an indication of progress, and the return of ships to sea for simulated voyages would be as important to the morale of the cruise industry, as it would be for satisfying the CDC's requirements.

How well are summer 2021 cruises selling?

One big chance since the last earnings call in February is Royal Caribbean has announced a number of cruise ships that will sail this summer from outside the United States.

These new sailings have been on sale for a few weeks, and with much of the company still shutdown, and likely another billion dollar loss this quarter, you can bet executives will want to highlight any positive cash flow news that they can find.

Between the new sailings going on sale, as well as pre-cruise purchases, we may get insight into how well these new summer cruises are actually selling, and what sort of demand for cruises outside the U.S. consumers have.

How strong is demand for cruises next year?

Throughout the cruise industry shutdown, there has been strong demand for cruise bookings in the coming year, and analysts will want to know if that has changed any.

A combination of pent-up demand by the public to travel once the global health crisis eases, along with veteran cruisers eager to get back onboard has bolstered cruise bookings over the course of the next few months.

Investors will likely want to know how well-booked Royal Caribbean is not only for the remainder of 2021, but into 2022 and beyond. 

The exact date cruises will resume is unknown, but being able to hit the ground running with good demand will help Royal Caribbean rebound faster.

Read more: Latest update from Richard Fain

What about Europe?

While Anthem of the Seas will sail from England this summer, the rest of the European cruise season remains in flux.

European sailings are not subject to the CDC's jurisdiction, and rival MSC Cruises announced it would resume operations with 10 ships sailing in Europe. 

MSC Cruises's plan includes three ships sailing in the Western Mediterranean, three ships sailing in the Eastern Mediterranean and four vessels deployed to Northern Europe.

With such an ambitious plan by MSC, Europe seems like a logical place for Royal Caribbean to start back up as well.

How big of a loss?

Another quarter with cruises being mostly shutdown means more than likely another big loss for the company, but how much?

On the one hand, Quantum of the Seas remains sailing in Singapore, and new bookings opened up for summer 2021 cruises in the Caribbean and Europe.

However, a handful of ships sailing will not turn a profit, so the question is going to be how much of a loss will be reported, and what kind of a positive impact did the newly released sailings have on Royal Caribbean's balance sheet.

For perspective, Royal Caribbean Group had a $1.4 billion US GAAP Net Loss in the fourth quarter 2020, and $1.3 billion loss in third quarter 2020.

A billion dollar loss sounds scary, but Wall Street won't be that surprised.  It's all relative when it comes to profits and losses, and the question is if the loss is more or less than analysts were expecting.

How you can listen to the earnings call

There will be full coverage of anything intriguing that comes out of Royal Caribbean Group's first quarter 2021 earnings call right here on RoyalCaribbeanBlog, but if you would like to listen on your own, here's how.

The call will be available on-line at the company's investor relations website, www.rclinvestor.com.  

You will be able to listen via the link provided close to the start of the call.

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