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Royal Caribbean’s Healthy Cruise Panel, Cruise with Confidence Programs

Founder of Royal Caribbean Blog Matt Hochberg joins Porthole Cruise to discuss the latest news from the cruise line.

With most cruises on hold around the world, you might be wondering what is happening with Royal Caribbean cruises today, and what to expect going forward.

Despite there being no Royal Caribbean cruises since March, there are plenty of changes happening, and here are the most important things to know about the state of Royal Caribbean today.

No cruises until at least September

The question everyone wants to know is when Royal Caribbean will offer cruises again, and the answer is not until at least October.

Royal Caribbean has cancelled most of its sailings through September 30, 2020, and has a planned date of return on October 1st.  However, you should look at this date as a moving target, as the date of resuming sailings has been pushed back a few times since the global cruise suspension began in March.

While the cruise line is not saying much in terms of when it will truly resume sailings, there are a number of hurdles for the cruise line to overcome before it can realistically start sailing again

Issues such as government restrictions, health procedures, public relations, and crew management are just some of the major obstacles to getting cruises backup and running.

In short, there are no firm plans for cruises to resume until we hear more from Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean International

Photo: Royal Caribbean International

Working on how to keep guests safe

Royal Caribbean did take a major step forward when they announced their Healthy Sail Panel, which is a blue ribbon panel of health experts who will craft an all-encompassing list of policies and procedures meant to keep guests and crew safe onboard.

The panel is made up of experts in public health, infectious disease, biosecurity, hospitality and maritime operations in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Interestingly, the panel is a collaboration between Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruises to work together to come up with a safe approach for cruising.  While cruise lines compete over passengers, these two lines do not see any rivalry in terms of safety.

You can expect the first set of recommendations by the end of August, with further revisions and ideas coming in the months thereafter.

Royal Caribbean International

Pool Deck- Oasis of the Seas | Photo: Royal Caribbean International

Flexibility in the meantime

If you have a cruise booked, or are concerned if booking a new cruise makes sense, Royal Caribbean has given guests the most flexibility in changing plans ever.

Known as the Cruise with Confidence program, anyone who has a cruise booked, or will be booking a new cruise, has a few options for changing their minds later.

Royal Caribbean will allow guests to cancel a cruise up until 48 hours prior to the sail date with no penalty, resulting in a 100% Future Cruise Credit. Even if you have non-refundable cruise fare booked, you can take advantage of this program.

Royal Caribbean International

Wonderland restaurant on board Harmony of the Seas | Photo: Royal Caribbean International

In addition, the Best Price Guarantee allows re-pricing of cruise fares in order to take advantage of a better price up to 48 hours before your sail date.

The Lift & Shift program provides another way to defer a cruise vacation one year ahead. If you have a cruise booked, Royal Caribbean is offering the opportunity between now and August 1, 2020, to protect the original price and promotional offering of a cruise by selecting a future sailing on the same itinerary type, sailing length, stateroom category, and within the same 4-week period of their original cruise date same-time-next-year.

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