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Monday, December 20, 2021

What You Should Know Before Cruising Again

We have a cruise booked for April 2022. It was going to be our first cruise since before the pandemic. It is a repositioning cruise which means we start the cruise in Miami and end the cruise in the Netherlands. We made the reservation for this cruise when it looked like the pandemic was finally done and then the Delta variant started the whole thing over again.

We were really starting to think that we should cancel our plans and then we were offered a free 4 day cruise from Royal Caribbean. We thought that this short cruise would be a great opportunity for us to see whether we were comfortable to cruise again. 

After this short cruise, we pretty much decided that we could on the repositioning cruise. Royal Caribbean has put in place many safety measures and created a "new normal" for cruising that definitely made us feel safe and comfortable.

1 - Everyone 12 and over must be vaccinated. I'm not sure if this will change to include younger children once the vaccination becomes readily available to them. You will have to present your vaccination card at check-in. We now keep our cards in a holder along with our passports.

2 - Everyone, 2 years and older, needs a covid test before getting on the ship. Vaccinated passengers need a test no later than 2 days before boarding. Kids 2 - 11 need to get tested 3 days before the start of the cruise and will be tested, free of charge, before boarding the ship. Click here to get more information on cruising with unvaccinated children.

3 - Vaccinated cruisers are required to wear a wristband for the duration of the trip. Part of the check-in process includes getting a bracelet to wear to show that you are fully vaccinated. This bracelet allows you to walk around all areas of the ship freely. Crew members are stationed at the entrance of certain venues and are checking to make sure you are wearing the wristband before you enter. 

4 - You must wear a mask on the ship at all times with a few exceptions. When you are on the outdoor decks, in your room or eating or drinking are the only times the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike do not have to wear masks. There are a couple of more exceptions to this rule for the vaccinated.

5 - You need to get tested for covid before getting off the ship and into some ports. We didn't need to get tested when we got off at Royal Caribbean's CocoCay port or when we docked in the Bahamas. We most likely will have to get tested before we leave the ship when we go on our trans- Atlantic cruise next year. After talking to a representative in the Next Cruise office, we found out that if testing is necessary, Royal Caribbean will perform this service at no cost.

6 - Areas in the ship are designated to vaccinated only. Two areas that we frequented the most, the My Time Dining hall and casino, was off limits to anyone that was not fully vaccinated. Also, being fully vaccinated allowed us to sit in the lower level of the entertainment venue. Masks are optional in this section of the theater. A perk you get for being fully vaccinated. There were ship crew that watched as you were leaving the auditorium who reminded you to put your mask back on before entering the ship's common area. I had to be reminded a couple of times!

7 - Social distancing is required in venues that unvaccinated guests are allowed in. The ice skating arena where the ice show is held is much smaller than the main entertainment venue so vaccinated and unvaccinated guests sit together. Here you had leave 2 seats between each party. This rule also held true in the upper level of the entertainment venue where vaccinated and unvaccinated sat together.

8 - You must wash your hands with soap and water before entering the Windjammer buffet. Huge sinks line the two walls of the entranceway to the buffet. A crew member stands at the entrance and merrily chants a "washy washy" reminder as you enter. Also, you must check in with the hostess before entering into the buffet which we never did before the pandemic. I am not sure why but am thinking maybe for contact tracing.

9 - Helping yourself is not permitted at the buffet. You can help yourself to a drink that has been poured into a glass and some dessert or salad that is pre-made and in some kind of container. All other food is served to you. Plates and silverware are handed to you. The condiment containers are only accessible to the gloved crew member who will serve you. It took me a couple trips to the condiment counter to finally get over the embarrassment of asking for my ketchup to be put in the big bowl and not the small one!

10 - Hand sanitizer is available throughout the ship and sometimes required to be used. Before covid, the only place we saw hand sanitizer was at the entrance of the buffet. Now it is everywhere. The person at the ice cream station at the pool will remind you to use the sanitizer before she serves you. She was not there on our last cruise.

11 - You must always look before you sit. There is constant cleaning of certain high contact areas. Before sitting down at a table, anywhere except the main dining areas where you are led to your seats, you had to make sure the note on the table is flipped to the side letting you know the table was clean. Sometimes it took a bit of searching for a clean table but we definitely wouldn't complain about this small inconvenience. We appreciated the extra assurance that we were sitting somewhere that was clean and germ free.

We were very happy with all the new protocols we had to follow onboard the cruise ship and we felt comfortable in all areas of the ship. We felt confident that we didn't have more of a chance contacting covid on this ship, or any other Royal Caribbean ship, compared to getting it anywhere else. That being said, we came home and booked the flight from Amsterdam to Miami that we were holding off on. 

Going on this short cruise trip turned out to be a very good idea for us. We can't wait to go on the next one now! Hope this list helps you decide if you are ready or not for your next cruise.

Bon Voyage!

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  1. Awesome post!

    Thanks for sharing your link at My Corner of the World this week!

  2. I have a friend on a cruise right now. But I prefer land travel. Happy Holidays and safe travels!

    1. We love all kinds of traveling, but probably love taking road trips with our trailer the best! Happy Holidays to you too. Thank you for stopping by!

  3. Thanks for sharing this informative post, wishing you a Happy & Healthy New Year...

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Happy New Year to you and yours!

  4. So glad you got to test out a mini cruise beforehand and didn't have to cancel your longer cruise!

    1. Yes but now things have changed again!! Still not cancelling though!

  5. This is great info. We have a cruise booked for September of 2022, and now they are saying cruising is not recommended per the CDC. I sure hope it turns around again before Sept. :-(
    Thanks for sharing at Sundays on Silverado

    1. I hope we will both be able to go on our cruises. Keeping my fingers crossed!