With cruise line operations halted for almost 2 full years, the industry has faced immense pressure to reopen slowly and safely. Now that most major cruise lines are operating again, many travelers have questions about what sailings look like in a “post pandemic” world. Of course, the pandemic is very much still happening, especially in populations with lower vaccination rates (which happen to be destinations that are popular ports of call). That’s why you should expect to see a few Covid related restrictions in place for your next cruise.
Here are 6 things to be prepared for prior to your next sailing:
Constant Changes Leading Up to Your Embarkation
Our cruise originally did not require a vaccination status. About 2 months prior to our sailing date it was announced that full vaccination was required due to updated regulations in one of our ports of call. Finally, just before the sailing we were informed that in addition to our vaccination record we were required to show proof of a negative Covid test prior to boarding.
Although these changing regulations could seem frustrating, we were glad to see that Royal Caribbean was updating their policies along with the dynamic case numbers and new variants. To avoid any stress around travel requirements we advise downloading the cruise line app and marking all emails from the cruise line as “safe” so they don’t end up in a spam folder. You can also check the cruise line’s site regularly as they post new health and safety requirements.
Covid Testing Requirements
As mentioned, we were required to provide a negative PCR or Antigen test that was taken 2-3 days prior to boarding. This meant having to schedule a test at a local site within the allotted window before leaving for the cruise.
In case of delayed test results or lack of testing appointments near you, we recommend researching or booking a back up test appointment near the location of your embarkation.
Increased Mobile App Usage
To create a contactless experience and limit person to person exposure, cruise lines are encouraging use of their mobile apps for everything from booking reservations to completing your muster drill. These changes are expected to last long past the pandemic as mobile apps create an easy way to customize your cruise experience.
If you are not tech savvy or have low confidence in your ability to navigate the ship using the app, we advise downloading it in advance to familiarize yourself with it. You can also go to guest services as soon as you board to ask for a quick run down of how to use any features you are unsure about.
Once you board you will be glad to see enhanced cleaning measures in all areas of the ship. Along with hand sanitizer stations at all entrances and elevators, the main buffet restaurant on our ship was newly redesigned to feature rows of sinks for hand washing prior to meals.
The team members were constantly wiping down high touch surfaces and ensuring the ship was sanitized. Our stateroom was even set with mini personal hand sanitizers and masks when we arrived!
To keep in line with physical distancing lounge chairs by the pools were appropriately spaced and rows in the theatre areas were blocked off.
In total our ship could accommodate up to 5,400 passengers but we were told there were only about 2,400 passengers aboard our sailing. Although the dance floor was a bit more empty than we might like, the sailing felt spacious and we had plenty of room to spread out in the lounge areas and sun decks.
Cruise ships are already known for their world class service but after being out of work for so long, the cruise ship staff was happy to be back in action. Their attention to detail and eagerness to delight us was beyond compare.
As guests who had been missing out on hospitality experiences during lockdowns and closures, we were honored to feel so cared for. From a private impromptu sake tasting at one of our favorite restaurants onboard, to personalized attention from the entertainment directors during shows and trivia; our trip was full of memories we know will last a lifetime!