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Even though cruising is not happening on large cruise ships here in North America, cruising has resumed in Singapore. Under strict guidelines, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas ship is sailing 3- and 4-night ocean journey trips with no port stops. Earlier this month, a passenger had a false-positive Covid test on board that threw a wrench into the itinerary. But other than that hiccup, the sailings have been relatively uneventful.
This week, I’ve been reading a live blog on Royal Caribbean Blog from the Singapore Cruise Society, who is currently on back-to-back cruises on Quantum of the Seas. Reading their daily journals provides a realistic idea of what it’s like to be cruising right now during the pandemic. My family sailed on the sister ship Anthem of the Seas last year. If you are hoping to cruise soon, I highly recommend you read the details on the live blog to be prepared.
Free Covid Test: Royal Caribbean is providing free Covid tests to all passengers three days before sailing. Not only is this convenient, but it gives some peace of mind to travelers.
More Contactless Procedures: Check-in can be completed online, and even immigration is contactless using iris scanners. Menus are replaced with bar codes which open up the menu in the Royal Caribbean App.
Fewer Passengers: Currently, the ship is sailing at slightly less than half capacity. That gives more room to spread out and social distance.
Reservations for Entertainment: Instead of waiting in a line, you can reserve a spot on the bumper cars and other activities through the app. Last year, my daughter and I waited about 30 minutes to get on the bumper cars.
Buffet Changes: The Windjammer has crew members serving all of the food instead of self-service from passengers. This is a great change and one that I hope continues beyond the pandemic.
Lines and Limits: On Sea Day 2, the blog author describes a line for the pool and a time limit of 15 minutes once you get in the pool. That is a major bummer! Jacuzzis are limited to one travel party at a time, not to exceed five total people. SeaPlex activities have a limit of 20 minutes. Bars stop serving drinks at 10 p.m. and close at 10:30 p.m.!
Less Live Music: Live music is limited to two theatre venues on board, which is a huge shift from a normal cruise. If you’re used to listening to live music in the atrium or in bars while on a cruise, it’s not happening.
Masks all the Time: Mask usage is enforced on board, which is both good and bad. Cruisers must even put masks back up after taking a sip of a drink in the bar. Obviously, masks are good to prevent viral spread. But, wearing a mask all day on vacation is a bit uncomfortable.
Issues with Apps and Reservations: On Day 4, the blog author talks about some issues people had with the app and not being able to get show reservations before capacity was met. This is a major issue, in my opinion. Can you imagine going on a cruise and not being able to see any shows?
Despite The Bad and The Ugly, it seems that most guests are enjoying themselves on these guinea pig cruises. After all, a bad day on the ocean beats a good day at work, right? Royal Caribbean has been transparent about the rules and safety measures, so nothing should be a big surprise.
As the virus danger shrinks, the rules will relax. How soon that happens remains to be seen.
My next cruise is scheduled for October. And to be honest, I’m still not sure if it will actually sail. However, I am so glad that we have a balcony room. If nothing else, we can relax and read on our balcony as we float our cares away.
What do you think of these pandemic cruises? Would you like to be on board, or would you rather wait?
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.