Royal Caribbean is likely one of the few main cruise traces to do check cruises as a prerequisite to restarting cruise ship sailings from the US.
The U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) requires cruise traces that don’t mandate at the very least 95% of its company be totally vaccinated to finish a check cruise for every of its ships with a purpose to obtain permission to sail once more.
I’ve been fortunate sufficient to go on two of Royal Caribbean’s check cruises. One on Mariner of the Seas and the opposite on Attract of the Seas.
Whereas the phrase “check cruise” or “simulated voyage” would possibly evoke the notion individuals onboard are continuously going by means of drills, the truth is a check cruise is much more like an everyday cruise than I believed.
Royal Caribbean had its first check cruise again in June on Freedom of the Seas, and it relied on cruise ship workers to play the function of company onboard.
Since then, the cruise line has invited journey brokers and even cruise line followers to come back aboard to assist them check out the ships in preparation for a return to service.
Whereas the CDC mandates theses check cruises, they play a second function of offering the crew members onboard a possibility to undergo the motions of a crusing so when paying passengers arrive, all the pieces is able to go.
On a check cruise, all passengers should be at the very least 18 years previous and totally vaccinated earlier than boarding the ship. Face masks are required to be worn whereas indoors, until in your stateroom, a delegated vaccinated zone, or whereas actively consuming or ingesting. Masks should not required outdoor or at Good Day at CocoCay.
Up to now, the check cruises have been minimally populated, with just some hundred company on every check crusing. When you think about Royal Caribbean’s ships can deal with hundreds of company, a decrease capability means no traces and no crowds onboard.
Why are the ships stuffed with so few company? First, sustaining social distancing has been a key precedence for Royal Caribbean on all of its ships because it restarts sailings. As well as, the CDC solely requires 10% of the ship’s passenger capability be crammed for these check cruises, so much less company means much less probability of any points with Covid onboard.
How do you get invited on a check cruise? Assuming you aren’t a journey agent, Royal Caribbean has opened up a sign-up course of to the general public, however that chance has since closed. As of proper now, if you happen to aren’t on the checklist of potential cruise volunteers, you might be out of luck.
The venues onboard are practically all totally operational, with just a few tweaks or changes right here and there. Not all of the exhibits are carried out on a check cruise, however you will see that loads of leisure within the night. In actual fact, most venues find yourself performing for only a handful of company since there are so few onboard to start with.
The buffet onboard is open, though crew members serve company as an alternative of company taking their very own meals. That is truly a profit, because it not solely helps with cleanliness, however tends to hurry up the buffet line.
The Windjammer buffet is open for breakfast and lunch, however closed for dinner. Up to now on all of its sailings with restricted capability, the Windjammer stays shutdown for dinner. Royal Caribbean executives say as soon as the ship hits round 50-60% capability, the dinner buffet possibility ought to return.
One other added advantage of the decrease capability on check cruises is there are practically no traces in any respect. No waits for elevators, no chair hogs on the pool, and no await the highest points of interest onboard, such because the FlowRider surf simulator or water slides.
For company, it is a golden alternative to reap the benefits of one thing not often seen on mass market cruise ships: no waits or traces.
The dearth of crowds extends to when the ships go to Royal Caribbean’s non-public island of Good Day at CocoCay.
Royal Caribbean’s non-public island in The Bahamas is designed to accommodate round 9,000 – 12,000 company per day. With just a few hundred company on the ship, your complete island is probably going staffed with extra crew members than company.
Not solely is there isn’t a crowding on the Oasis Lagoon pool bar or for the right seashore chair, however there isn’t a wait in any respect for the water slides at Good Day at CocoCay.
In actual fact, on their check cruises up to now, Royal Caribbean has opened up Thrill Waterpark to all company moderately than charging admission.
Take a look at cruises serve a regulatory and procedural goal, however for company fortunate sufficient to get an invite on one, it is rather more likely to be probably the most memorable (and least busy) ship they’ve ever sailed on.