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Royal Caribbean cancels most cruises in June

In:
08Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has joined the fray of other cruise lines that have thrown in the towel and cancelled many of their June cruises.

While a handful of ships will be able to sail outside of the United States in June, most of the cruises scheduled in June were officially cancelled.

Royal Caribbean announced it has cancelled all of its cruises through June 30, 2021, excluding sailings onboard Quantum, Spectrum, Voyager, Anthem, Adventure, Vision, Jewel, and Odyssey of the Seas. 

The exception to the new round of cancellations are the few ships that will be homeported outside the United States and confirmed to be sailing this summer including:

  • Adventure of the Seas from Nassau, Bahamas
  • Vision of the Seas from Bermuda
  • Odyssey of the Seas from Haifa, Israel
  • Quantum of the Seas from Singapore
  • Jewel of the Seas from Cyprus (beginning in July)
  • Anthem of the Seas from Southampton (beginning in July)

Royal Caribbean's decision to cancel its June cruise comes weeks after a number of other cruise lines cancelled their June cruises, including Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, and Carnival Cruise Line.

Read moreWhat you should do now that Royal Caribbean cancelled your cruise

Compensation

Guests affected by the cancelled cruises between June 1 - 30,  2021, have three options for compensation.

Lift & Shift: Move to a qualifying 2022 sailing between May 18th, 2022 – June 15th, 2022 on the same itinerary, sailing length, embarkation port, stateroom category and departing within 2-weeks of the original sail date and your client's cruise fare/promotion is protected. This option is available until April 22, 2021.

125% Future Cruise Credit: To account for the inconvenience this has caused, guests are eligible for a 125% Future Cruise Credit (FCC) that is based on the total cruise fare paid at the guest-level if neither of the other options is selected. 

Taxes and fees, as well as any pre-purchased amenities or onboard packages, will be automatically refunded to the original form of payment within 45 days from the cancelation date.

Additionally, if you redeemed your Cruise with Confidence Future Cruise Credit on a sailing that is now cancelled, their original FCC will be reinstated, plus 125% of any amount paid by the guest on the cancelled reservation.

Refund: If you prefer a cash refund, you can do so by requesting this option on-or-before June 30, 2021.

You can expect their refund to the original form of payment within 45 days from the cancellation date. 

If you redeemed a Cruise with Confidence Future Cruise Credit on an impacted sailing and would now prefer a refund instead, Royal Caribbean will process this request in the amount of any new funds paid above the original certificate and, in turn, will reinstate the Cruise with Confidence FCC for future use.

Cruise Planner Purchases: If you had purchased any cruise add-ons, such as shore excursions, drink packages, wifi and more, you could opt to convert your Cruise Planner purchases  to an Onboard Credit valued at 125% of the total amount paid. This offer expires on April 22, 2021.

When will the CDC let cruise ships sail from the United States?

The struggle to get permission for cruise ships to sail from the United States has never been more contentious than right now.

Over the past few weeks, a number of cruise industry leaders, legislators, local politicians and public officials have all called on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to allow cruise ships to sail again.

Overwhelmingly, the push to get cruise ships operational again has been due to sweeping new health protocols, along with the rest of the travel sector already open and running.

The CDC has not provided any kind of a resumption schedule for cruise ships, leaving the industry in limbo. 

Ultimately, no one knows when cruises might actually restart from the U.S., but hopefully there will be a path forward soon.

There are summer 2021 cruises you can actually go on

If your June cruise was cancelled and now you want to find another sailing that will actually sail, there are a few ships to choose from.

Royal Caribbean has redeployed a few of its cruise ships to get around the CDC, and these ships are open for booking by Americans to sail this summer.

Yes, there will be cruises you can go on this summer, they just will not be departing or visiting any U.S. ports.

Adventure of the Seas will begin sailing first, offering 7-night cruises from Nassau, Bahamas on June 12, 2021.

Vision of the Seas will also begin sailing in June, with 7-night cruises from Bermuda beginning on June 26, 2021.

If you happen to live in Israel, Odyssey of the Seas will be sailing from Israel, but these are open to Israeli residents only.

Quantum of the Seas continues to sail from Singapore, but it is only bookable by Singaporean residents.

CLIA asked why CDC is holding cruise ships to a double standard

In:
07Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

When comparing how the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is treating the cruise industry versus other aspects of travel, there appears to be a massive double standard.

President and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Kelly Craighead spoke to travel agents during a webinar on Wednesday and was asked why is cruise shutdown by the CDC while hotels, theme parks, airlines and casinos are able to operate.

While Ms. Craighead conceded she does not have direct insight into what anyone at the CDC may be thinking, she believes cruise ships have become an unfortunate symbol of Covid-19 stemming from the early days of the pandemic. Specifically, the cruise ships in Asia and Australia that were denied entry by government to treat anyone onboard for Covid-19 and as a result, the ship was left isolated without recourse.

"Cruise was an early symbol of the pandemic and the impact to them [CDC], I think, ...understandably put them in a mindset of zero risk."

"As you've seen with other industries, the name of the game now really needs to be about mitigating risk."

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

Ms. Craighead's comments are in reference to the airline industry, which is able to operate with the understanding that they take certain actions to limit risk, but it is acceptable that some cases may be present.

"The irony is that today an American can fly to any number of destinations to take a cruise, but cannot board a ship in the U.S." was a statement made by CLIA earlier this week.

Part of CLIA's aim is to change the notion of "one case is one too many" to cruise ships being treated the same as other forms of leisure travel.

"If we can shift the mindset into mitigating risk, understanding that everyone is trying to get back to business even while there's still a health emergency, is one of the cases we're trying to make."

In addition, Ms. Craighead thinks the significant effort to come up with substantive and stringent new health protocols for cruise ships is also lost in the mix.

"The protocols that are in place are really designed as all protocols for cruising are, is to go over and beyond and to point to how difficult it would be for covid to be on a ship, and how if Covid presented on a ship, that accommodations have been made in every respect, from ventilation to medical capabilities, to the prearranged contracted services that exist between the destinations, visitors and the health authority."

Read moreHow Royal Caribbean will circulate air on its cruise ships to protect against coronavirus

How realistic is July for cruises to restart?

Even if cruise lines received permission to sail, how realistic is July as a timeframe for cruises to be able to restart sailing?

Ms. Craighead said the ramp up would take "about 90 days" to get a ship ready for service, but the bigger issue is how soon cruise lines can get the go-ahead to start planning.

"Is July 1st realistic really depends on when we get the go ahead to cruise, because it takes about 90 days, for the most part to have the ships ready to sail following the stringent protocols that have been adopted by a cruise line members."

A key deadline for July cruises is May 1, according to Craighead.

"If we get the word by May 1st, we feel we can have ships ready by July 1st."

Royal Caribbean has only cancelled cruises through the end of May 2021, while NCL and Carnival have both cancelled cruises through the end of June 2021.

Why can't cruise lines ignore the CDC and start sailing now?

Some cruise fans have been wondering why can't cruise ships simply bypass the CDC and start sailing on their own accord without permission.

Ms. Craighead pointed out the emergency powers the CDC has due to the public health emergency created by Covid-19.

"They have emergency powers that we uniquely have to adhere to."

New Anthem of the Seas summer 2021 cruises from UK available to book now

In:
07Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Brits can now book sailings on Anthem of the Seas for a summer holiday cruise.

Royal Caribbean has opened up bookings for its recently announced summer cruises aboard Anthem of the Seas.

Beginning with the July 7 sailing, Anthem of the Seas is open for bookings from her homeport of Southampton.

Anthem will sail  three and four-night Ocean ­Getaways in July with five to eight-night British Isles cruises from July 15.

Guests can sail to destinations such as Liverpool, Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, and Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The new sailings range between the months of July and October 2021.

Cruises on Anthem of the Seas are open only to UK residents and you must be vaccinated to sail if you are at least 18 years old. Guests under the age of 18 will not need to be vaccinated but should show a negative test result. 

Royal Caribbean says guests must not only have had the full inoculation, but also two weeks after the last shot.

Royal Caribbean International’s Ben Bouldin confirmed the requirements, "For adults, we are asking that all adults are vaccinated. That means they've had both vaccinations and they've had the required period of time, the two weeks post their second vaccination for that vaccination."

Royal Caribbean indicated the requiring the vaccine, and other health measures, "may evolve as they are evaluated on an ongoing basis."

Anthem of the Seas is one of many cruise lines that has pivoted its plans to offer cruises this summer from the UK exclusively to residents of that country.

Sister line Celebrity Cruises also recently put on sale its Celebrity Silhouette ship from Southampton as well.

Celebrity Silhouette will offer 6-, 7-, and 8-night cruises around the UK.

Ports of call will include Portland on the Jurassic Coast as well as Inverness and Glasgow, and Kirkwall on the Orkney Islands plus Belfast and Liverpool.

Moving plans around this summer has been Royal Caribbean's new game plan, with many governments still closing their borders to cruises.

Thus far, five Royal Caribbean ships have been re-deployed in order to offer cruises this summer.

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

Royal Caribbean will start West Coast cruises earlier than planned, beginning in November 2021

In:
06Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean will start its West Coast cruises earlier than expected.

The first Navigator of the Seas sailings will begin sailing year-round from Los Angeles, California as of November 2021. 

When Royal Caribbean announced its return to the West Coast, initially the cruise planned to start sailing in June 2022, but will sailing now significantly easier.

Travel agents were notified of the change, which may explain why were there was a delay in the sailings going on sale last week.

These new itineraries will open for sale the week of April 12, 2021. 

Royal Caribbean will offer 3-, 4- and 5-night itineraries to Catalina Island, California and Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – plus, select winter holiday 7-night sailings.

Navigator of the Seas will depart from Los Angeles' World Cruise Center in San Pedro.

The announcement that Navigator will begin cruises in November 2021 confirms the dates that were originally posted on the Port of Los Angeles website prior to Royal Caribbean's announcement.

In March 2021, the Port of Los Angeles website had sailings listed in November and December 2021.

After posting the information on this blog, the listings were removed shortly thereafter.

Returning after a decade

Royal Caribbean's announcement that it will cruise from Los Angeles regularly after more than a decade is significant, as industry insiders have speculated about its West Coast return for years.

While other cruise lines returned, Royal Caribbean stayed away, claiming it was able to make more money elsewhere.

 

In 2015, Freed pointed out the low rates competitor cruise lines were getting. "We always look at the West Coast. But we continue to look at the rates that the other cruise lines are getting, and we offer an experience that we can't afford to be selling at those low rates.

"If and when we see the rates start to bounce back, and we feel we can get paid for what we offer for our product, then we’ll be back there. But right now, unfortunately, it's a bath out there. They're selling four-day cruises at $199 per person, and we’re not just talking Carnival.

"We spend more on food, more on entertainment and more on our overall onboard experience [than other lines], and so we cannot be the low-price leader out in any market."

The line also cited the logistical challenges of returning its ships to the West Coast, much of which had to do with the rise of cruise popularity in other areas of the world, such as Europe and China. Sending ships to those locations meant fewer ships to go to other ports. (The West Coast has always been a seasonal market for ships repositioning from other regions.)

Carnival cancels June 2021 cruises

In:
06Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Another major cruise line has cancelled its June cruises, leaving just Royal Caribbean as one the "big three" cruise lines with June sailings on the books.

Carnival informed guests on Tuesday that it will extend its cruise cancellations from U.S. ports through June 30, 2021.

To provide flexibility for guests booked on July itineraries that remain in the schedule, Carnival is extending final payment deadlines for all July sailings to May 31, 2021, with the ability to cancel without penalty.

Norwegian Cruise Line also cancelled its June 2021 cruises back on March 16, 2021.

Prior to today's announcement, Carnival had cancelled cruises through May 31, 2021.

As it has done throughout the pause, Carnival is providing guests on cruises cancelled today the choice of a future cruise credit plus onboard credit package, or a full refund.

In their announcement, Carnival said, "We know that this is very disappointing to our guests who continue to be eager to sail, and we remain committed to working with the Administration and the CDC to find a workable solution that best serves the interest of public health."

Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy implored the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to treat the cruise industry fairly, "We are asking that the cruise industry be treated on par with the approach being taken with other travel and tourism sectors, as well as U.S. society at large."

Ms. Duffy also said there are no plans yet to base its ships outside the United States, but that option may become inevitable if things do not change, "While we have not made plans to move Carnival Cruise Line ships outside of our U.S. homeports, we may have no choice but to do so in order to resume our operations which have been on ‘pause’ for over a year."

"We appreciate the continued patience and support from our loyal guests, travel advisors and business partners as we work on a return-to-service solution."

Ms. Duffy was vocal about keeping ships sailing from the U.S. and not following Royal Caribbean's lead by sending ships outside the U.S. to restart.

In a meeting with Florida's Governor in March 2021, she was proud of the fact Carnival was making no such plans, "Here at Carnival we currently do not have any plans to move our ships away from their US homeports, I’ve always said Carnival Cruise Line is America’s cruise line."

"We sail from 14 US homeports, a significant number of our guests drive to their Carnival vacations, and we also sail with more families and children than any other cruise line."

What about Royal Caribbean?

Royal Caribbean has made no announcements yet about if it will cancel June 2021 cruises.

The line will be restarting operations in June on a few ships outside the United States including:

  • Adventure of the Seas from Nassau, Bahamas
  • Vision of the Seas from Bermuda
  • Odyssey of the Seas from Haifa, Israel

Anthem of the Seas will restart in July, and Quantum of the Seas continues to sail from Singapore.

Read moreIs there a pattern to when Royal Caribbean cancels cruises?

The rest of the ships and sailings scheduled from June are all still to be determined, although many in the cruise industry expect more cancellations.

Royal Caribbean rarely gives any kind of warning when a new set of cancellations are going to occur.

5 ways the CDC proves it doesn't understand cruise ships

In:
06Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

I believe it was the 20th century American philosopher, actor, rapper, and film producer Williard Carroll Smith Jr. who famously postulated, "Parents just don't understand", and clearly neither does the CDC.

While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) holds the cruise industry back from restarting sailings under the Framework for Conditional Sail Order (CSO), it has provided a litany of examples that it has failed to understand how cruise ships operate, as well as any grasp on the lengths cruise lines are will to go to keep everyone onboard safe.

Buried throughout the CDC's own documentation are instances of double standards, incorrect summarization, and just odd logic.

Behold the proof why after reading through the CSO, it is clear the CDC doesn't understand cruising.

The CDC thinks cruise ships are in the same category as prisons

Believe it or not, the CDC thinks cruise ships have more in common with prisons than airplanes.

The CDC released its Phase 2A technical instructions for cruise lines as part of its Framework for Conditional Sail Order (CSO) last week, and it said that, "for purposes of these instructions, CDC considers cruise ships to constitute a residential congregate setting."

The CDC defines a congregate setting as "a setting in which a group of usually unrelated persons reside, meet, or gather either for a limited or extended period of time in close physical proximity."

Some examples of a congregate setting include:

  • Schools
  • Nursing homes
  • Correctional facilities
  • Places of worship
  • Hospitals
  • Shelters
  • Social settings
  • Workplace settings

Source: CDC

Since the CDC used the word "residential" to describe it, that infers somewhere that people stay overnight. So, we are left with nursing homes, correctional facilities, and perhaps shelters.

Even if you buy into the fact prisons and cruise ships are the same setting, that has not stopped prisons from opening up.

New York's Department of Corrections and Community Supervision announced it will resume visitation within its facilities starting Wednesday, April 28, 2021 in maximum security facilities, and all other locations on Saturday, May 1, 2021. 

So you can go to Sing Sing, but not Symphony of the Seas.

CDC wants cruise lines to only use gangways once every 12 hours

What is the difference between a gangway to a cruise ship and a jetway to an airplane? Evidently a lot.

As part of the safety procedures the CDC recommends, the agency says to ensure passengers do not get too close, they say places such as gangways, terminal waiting spaces, and check-in areas should not be occupied within the same 12-hour period.

Airports use their jetways to get passengers from airplane terminals to airplanes hourly, and throughout the day.  Certainly not with 12-hour spacing.

Even in a hospital, where known Covid-19 patients may be walking in, there is not a protocol to essentially close off a hallway/entryway for 12 hours at a time.

Moreover, revised guidance issued on Monday by the CDC said surface transmission of Covid-19 is low.

"It is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects (fomites), but the risk is generally considered to be low."

Risk

The CDC really seems to see risk in a completely different light when it comes to cruise ships versus any other form on travel.

On the same day CDC issued new onerous requirements for the cruise industry, five months after the original order, CDC issued relaxed guidance for domestic and international travel due to vaccination progress and recognition of the improved public health environment.

The CDC said fully vaccinated people can travel internationally without getting a COVID-19 test before travel unless it is required by the international destination.

As the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) pointed out, the CDC's approach to cruises seem to reflect a zero-risk objective rather than the mitigation approach to COVID that is the basis for every other U.S. sector of our society.

CDC wants cruise lines to do things they're already doing

You might think new instructions would help shape the direction cruise lines can go, but a great deal of these are already being done or committed to by the cruise lines.

One major area of Phase 2A of the technical instructions has to do with agreements with local authorities in the event of a positive case onboard.

Creating planning materials for agreements that port authorities and local health authorities must approve to ensure cruise lines have the necessary infrastructure in place to manage an outbreak of COVID-19 on their ships to include healthcare capacity and housing to isolate infected people and quarantine those who are exposed.

Royal Caribbean has been doing that since they restarted cruises with Quantum of the Seas in Singapore in December 2020.  Royal Caribbean and Singapore have an agreement to rapidly get infected people isolated and then off the ship for medical attention, while then attending to the rest of the crew and passengers to ensure they are healthy.

We saw this plan in action when a false positive case was reported on Quantum of the Seas.

When Royal Caribbean announced it would restart sailings in The Bahamas and Bermuda this summer.

 In the event of COVID-19-related expenses, Royal Caribbean will cover onboard medical treatment, cost of any required land-based quarantine, and travel home for you, your travel party, and any confirmed close contacts

Another requirement is "establishing a plan and timeline for vaccination of crew and port personnel."

In the United States, President Joe Biden has already committed to any American adult who wants to can be vaccinated by May, so that covers any port personnel in the U.S.

Moreover, Royal Caribbean has said in February 20201 that it intends to vaccinate all of its crew members.

Ignoring evidence new health protocols work

Perhaps most glaring is the fact the CDC has not taken into account the sizable sample size of data from cruises operating around the world with stellar results.

Nearly 400,000 passengers have already sailed from Europe and parts of Asia since last summer, following stringent, science-based protocols that resulted in a far lower incident rate than on land (fewer than 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19 onboard). 

Quantum of the Seas has had over 50,000 guests sail onboard with zero positive Covid-19 cases to date.

This approach by the CDC does not recognize the public health advances that have been made over many months, including the ability to effectively mitigate risk on cruise ships. 

Moreover, Royal Caribbean has demonstrated it is willing to require adults to be vaccinated for its sailings this summer outside the U.S., and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings proposed it would commit to only fully vaccinated passengers onboard.

NCL follows Royal Caribbean's lead and announces cruises outside U.S.

In:
06Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Another major cruise line has announced plans to restart cruises outside the U.S. in order to get sailing again this summer.

Norwegian Cruise Line announced on Tuesday three cruise ships will sail from various ports in the Caribbean and Europe.

Royal Caribbean made headlines last month when it announced ships would sail from places like Bermuda, the Bahamas and Cyprus, and now NCL has joined the trend.

The three ships sailing are:

  • Norwegian Jade from Athens, Greece offering 7-night Greek Isles cruises beginning July 25, 2021
  • Norwegian Joy from Montego Bay, Jamaica offering 7-night cruises beginning August 15, 2021
  • Norwegian Gem from Punta Cana (La Romana), Dominican Republic beginning August 15, 2021

These plans are in addition to NCL's proposal to the CDC to be able to restart sailings from the U.S., provided that plan gets approved.

While Norwegian will also require the Covid-19 vaccine for anyone sailing onboard these ships, it is making no exception for children under the age of 18. Royal Caribbean is allowing kids, but will require a negative test for them.

The requirement to be fully vaccinated runs through October 31, 2021.

The sailings will operate with a "robust health and safety program", which includes mandatory vaccinations for all guests and crew and universal COVID-19 testing.

Passengers sailing will need to take an antigen test prior to boarding, and other policies will be fully fleshed out closer to sail date.

NCL will require guests go on only ship sponsored shore excursions through September 1. 

NCL plans to sail its vessels at 60% capacity, and then add 20% additional capacity every 30 days.

More cancellations

In addition to these new sailings, Norwegian also announced more cruise cancellations.

NCL cancelled all July and August itineraries aboard Norwegian Breakaway, Dawn, Escape, Getaway, Sky, Spirit, Star and Sun. 

Sailings for the Norwegian Epic through September 1, 2021 are also cancelled; and Norwegian Pearl through Nov. 7, 2021 have also been canceled. Guests and Travel Partners with impacted reservations will be contacted directly.

NCL also extended its Peace of Mind Cancellation policy to cruises booked by April 30 with embarkation dates through October 31.

Cruise industry rejects new CDC technical instructions & calls them "unworkable"

In:
05Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

The cruise industry has renewed its call for cruise ships to be able to sail again, calling new federal instructions "disappointing".

On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued new technical instructions after many months of silence, but the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) today responded to them as not helpful.

In a statement, CLIA called on the U.S. government to once again lift the Conditional Sail Order (CSO), rather than continue with these steps.

CLIA represents nearly every major ocean, river, and specialty cruise line, including Royal Caribbean.

In short, CLIA called out the technical instructions, "The new requirements are unduly burdensome, largely unworkable, and seem to reflect a zero-risk objective rather than the mitigation approach to COVID that is the basis for every other US sector of our society."

Read more: Read the technical instructions

CLIA pointed out the glaring double standards that the cruise industry faces compared to every other form of travel.

"Moreover, the instructions are at odds with the approach the CDC and governments in other parts of the world apply to all other travel and tourism segments in mitigating the risk of COVID-19."

"On the same day CDC issued new onerous requirements for the cruise industry, five months after the original order, CDC issued relaxed guidance for domestic and international travel due to vaccination progress and recognition of the improved public health environment."

CLIA reitterated not only its call to lift the CSO, but also reminded the CDC about the working examples of cruise ships that have been able to operate around the world with extremely low cases onboard.

"The irony is that today an American can fly to any number of destinations to take a cruise, but cannot board a ship in the U.S."

CLIA believes a joint effort can restart sailings faster and with the health and safety in mind of all passengers, crew, and local communities than continuing with the CSO.

"CLIA urges the Administration to consider the ample evidence that supports lifting the CSO this month to allow for the planning of a controlled return to service this summer. If anything, the announcement last Friday is a clarion call for closer cooperation and coordination among stakeholders to achieve the President’s goal of reaching a ‘new normal’ by the Fourth of July.

"Working together, we can avoid the negative consequences that come when cruising, and the workers who support it, are not afforded the same opportunities as other workers in industries with far fewer practices in place to provide for public health and well-being."

The new technical instructions were as disappointing as Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley had feared they would be.

Last week, Mr. Bayley used the word, "worried" to describe what the CDC may tell cruise lines to do if they actually provided any kind of guidance.

"We're worried that the guidance that we're going to get is going to be pretty outdated."

Joining CLIA in its disappointment was Port Canaveral, whose CEO shared his disdain for the new instructions.

Captain John Murray, Port Canaveral CEO, issued a statement criticizing them, "We’re disappointed that this guidance for the cruise industry appears to be nothing more than an incremental step in a far-reaching process to resume passenger sailings in the U.S. with no definitive or target start date."

The Port of Galveston also voiced their displeasure with the new instructions.

Galveston Wharves CEO and Port Director Rodger Rees called on the CDC to lift the CSO citing the inaction by the agency, "As CEO and port director of the fourth most popular cruise port in North America and the only cruise port in Texas, I am joining Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), major cruise lines and many others in calling for the CDC to lift the Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) and allow safe, sustainable phased cruising to begin in July."

"The CDC has taken no action despite the following facts: millions of Americans are vaccinated; COVID case numbers in the U.S. have declined significantly in recent months; cruise ports and cruise lines have put measures in place for safe, sustainable cruising; cruising in markets around the world has resumed while preventing or limiting spread of the virus."

You didn't miss it. Royal Caribbean hasn't released West Coast cruises to book yet

In:
05Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

There has been so much cruise news over the last couple of weeks that you might think you missed Royal Caribbean opening up bookings for West Coast cruises in 2022, but that is not the case.

When Royal Caribbean announced it would return to the west coast after 10 years with Navigator of the Seas sailing from Los Angeles, the cruise line said the new sailings would go on sale the week of March 29, 2021.

That week has come and gone without any of the new sailings available to book.

UPDATE:  These new itineraries will open for sale the week of April 12, 2021. 

There has not been any update on when these Navigator sailings from L.A. might become available to book, nor an explanation of the delay.

It is not unheard of for new sailings to be announced to go on sale, only to be delayed later.

Royal Caribbean will offer 3-, 4- and 5-night itineraries to Catalina Island, California and Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – plus, select winter holiday 7-night sailings.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean will cruise from California for the first time in a decade

What happened to the sailings?

Some RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers have reported calling into Royal Caribbean and been told there is in fact some sort of a delay.

Twangster shared what he was told from a phone agent, "Latest agent I spoke with said an internal announcement went out announcing the delay.  The announcement doesn't mention a new release date but he said there are rumors it will be closer to the end of April."

Johnt83 was also told by a phone agent there is a delay, "The lady I spoke to was very nice, she did confirm that there has been a delay in getting the Nav sailings out of LA posted on the website as they are still working on some critical details."

RoyalLaker was able to get some more details on the first sailing after calling the Crown and Anchor Society phone number, "First sailing out of LA is June 10th 2022 3 nights day 1 LA day 2 sea day  day 3 Ensenada no pricing was available. Asked when they would go sale no timeframe was given just said a announcement would go out once they are open."

What should you do if you are waiting for these sailings?

No one can book anything until Royal Caribbean is ready to release the new sailings, so it appears it will take a bit longer than expected.

In the meantime, it is a good idea to talk with your travel agent about which type of sailings you would be interested in, and the timeframe for sailings to book.

Read moreHow far in advance should I book a cruise to get the best price?

It is also a good idea to look at a deck plan and get a sense of stateroom category and location you would be interested in.

Doing this now makes booking the actual sailing later much faster, which is important when new sailings are announced to lock in the best possible rates.

One of the best strategies for getting a good price on a cruise is to book as early as you can.

Read moreWhat are the different types of cabins on a cruise ship?

Moreover, certain popular stateroom categories, such as suites, are the first to be booked up by savvy cruisers who know which cabins have the highest demand.

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

In:
05Apr2021
By: Matt Hochberg

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."

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