I am suuuuuper excited to share this guest post from Shaene!!!! He is an avid cruiser, and after hearing his experience I quickly booked my own Royal Caribbean cruise! I cannot wait!!!
Cruising has been the chosen way to vacation for millions of families for decades because of its all-inclusive pricing and the fact that there is something for all ages to enjoy while onboard with Royal Caribbean.
Because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, however, the cruise industry was shut down for over a year. Now with vaccines, testing, and newly instituted health and safety protocols, the industry is getting back on its feet. Recently I had the opportunity to cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas and I can say that it was a great experience.
The ship normally can hold 4000 guests onboard, as well as 1200 crew members according to the cruise director, but because of CDC guidelines, they are sailing at a reduced capacity.
On the September 20-24 sailing, there were only 1100 guests onboard. The health and safety protocols can vary by departure port, but Florida requires anyone ages 12 and older to be fully vaccinated as well as have a negative COVID-19 test within 2 days of departure. Kids ages 2-11 have to have a negative test within 3 days of departure and will be tested while onboard as well. Kids under 2 do not have to test.
Upon arriving at the port, even before going into the building, you are asked to show your vaccination card and negative test results twice. When going through security and a health screening you are again asked for the same information. You are then given a bracelet that signifies that you are vaccinated to wear throughout your sailing.
When you go to the check in counter you are asked for it once again and then finally one more time right before you head from the port to gangway to enter the ship.
Once onboard masks are required in indoor spaces and there are certain areas and shows that only vaccinated guests can go that are designated with a (V*) beside their description.
To enter those areas, the crew were checking to make sure guests had on the bracelet you were given after the health screening you received prior to boarding the ship. In the Windjammer (buffet-style restaurant) the crew served everyone instead of the traditional serve yourself type of buffet. They had tables blocked off so that there could be a distance between people eating and on tables that you were allowed to dine at, signs were on them once they were clean and on the flip side said please wait until we clean this table before sitting down,
Another way they have tried to keep guests safe is that in the main dining room there are 2 levels in use. On the higher floor, they only had families with kids under 12 who couldn’t be vaccinated and had them spread out and those waiters only had 1 family they were responsible for serving to minimize chances of a child getting sick.
Signs were everywhere to try to maintain social distancing including one family or only 4 people in an elevator at a time.
They also ran the stage shows and comedy acts numerous times throughout the sailing in order to space out guests who wanted to experience them and have fewer people in the theatre.
All in all, the experience of cruising was a great one. I felt safe while onboard. Even safer than going to the mall or grocery store at home.
Was it the same as before the pandemic? No, but nothing will ever be the same as it was. The level of care and warmth of the entire crew you can tell they missed cruising.
By the way, all the guests onboard followed the guidelines set to be able to sail, you can tell they missed cruising.
It was great to be back out on the ocean relaxing and being able to appreciate something that was gone for over a year.
Welcome back to the seas Royal Caribbean.
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