Right now Royal Caribbean is canceling sailing on four ships, one of which (Vision of the Seas) will return to service later than scheduled as it’s not running any active service at the moment.
I just returned from my own two-week cruise with Celebrity Cruises which is also owned by Royal Caribbean and while I have already scratched on what’s happening onboard (mask requirement etc) during a previous article, Royal Caribbean has gone a step further and actually canceled their first cruises.
You can access their press release here:
An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people gather. Due to evolving health protocols, certain onboard and destination experiences, offerings, features, or itineraries may not be available during your voyage, may vary by ship and destination, and may be subject to change without notice. Imagery and messaging on the Royal Caribbean website and other company advertising may not accurately reflect experiences that are currently unavailable or otherwise impacted by evolving health protocols.
As a result of the ongoing COVID-related circumstances around the world, and in an abundance of caution, Royal Caribbean International is pausing operations for the following ships:
• Vision of the Seas’ return to cruising is postponed until March 7, 2022
• Serenade of the Seas sailings from January 8 – March 5, returning after dry dock on April 26, 2022
• Jewel of the Seas sailings from January 9 – February 12, returning on February 20, 2022
• Symphony of the Seas sailings from January 8 – January 22, returning on January 29, 2022
We regret having to cancel our guests’ long-awaited vacations and appreciate their loyalty and understanding. Our top priority is always the well-being of our guests, our crew and the communities we visit.
I think there are multiple factors that play into Royal’s decision here. Covid of course but that’s just the underlying issue that affects their operation in general.
Pretty much any ship, despite very high standards for passengers and crew (vaccination and test requirements) has reported Covid cases. Some (both of mine) with more than 1% of passengers which seems to be a threshold for both internal measures and also ports that might deny the ship to dock if the threshold is reached.
Of course, as most if not all of these sailings take place out of Florida there is no problem with actually returning to shore and getting home but nobody wants to get caught up in the situation of having Covid onboard a cruise ship. I witnessed several ugly situations with passengers on Celebrity Edge last week who were temporarily quarantined or isolated depending on their status as either Cov+ or being a close contact. Positive cases were moved to a special cabin section WITHOUT BALCONIES (porthole windows only) so even booking a good cabin with a large balcony won’t help you there.
Such prospects, combined with the CDC recommendation to not take any cruises at the moment let passenger numbers plummet with lots of cancellations incoming.
To cancel some cruises makes sense in this situation. There are still quite a few sailings available (at least for now) and affected passengers can always request to be moved to those. They are also eligible for compensation or a full refund.
Here is my article from last week regarding the new mask requirements:
These requirements also appear to be attached to exceeding the 1% infection threshold as far as Celebrity is concerned. The ship was extremely clean but you can’t see a virus with your eyes. In the end, the masks weren’t a big deal but I can see why people would probably want to avoid a vacation where they have to tread on eggshells constantly, hence many cancellations.
While I understand many people have concerns about cruises (mostly people who’ve never been on a cruise to be perfectly honest) the scenes at the Ft. Lauderdale airport, on my Alaska Airlines flight as well as at LAX upon arrival were of much greater concern to me as far as the exposure to Covid goes. All of these places were a madhouse and cleanliness was a totally foreign concept as well.
Royal Caribbean has started to cancel cruises on three active ships and delayed the return to service of another vessel as passenger numbers for cruises plummet amid CDC warnings and a new wave of the omicron variant.
I expect that we’ll see more cancellations of cruises in the next 2-4 months and that’s across the board, not just with Royal Caribbean. There were so many things where I felt where despite their well-worked-out safety protocols that dealing with this situation and upset passengers isn’t manageable for the company and crew in the long term. Hopefully, things improve in the medium-term and by the summer we’re in a different spot.