Royal Caribbean International Adds Fifth Ship to Cruising Restart
The Royal Caribbean Group is continuing to move forward with its plans to resume cruise operations as the first element in the long-anticipated phased resumption of service. In its latest move, the company’s Royal Caribbean International brand announced plans for a UK-based summer program marking the fifth cruise ship from its fleet of 25 scheduled to resume operations.
Royal Caribbean’s executive management has been vocal in saying that they believe travelers are anxious to resume cruising and that the science and understanding of the virus has progressed sufficiently to manage the risk while resuming operations. The company highlights the success that TUI Cruises had starting last summer in running cruises from Germany, Greece, and more recently in the Canary Islands. The Royal Caribbean Group is partners with TUI in the Mein Schiff cruise operation. Also, since December 2020, Royal Caribbean’s first cruise ship to return to service has carried more than 50,000 passengers from Singapore without an outbreak of the virus on board.
“Our guests have continued to have a fabulous vacation experience with Royal Caribbean, as we continue sailing with our layered health and safety measures developed with the Healthy Sail Panel. In fact, we have seen guest satisfaction ratings jump since we started sailing this past December,” said Angie Stephen, vice president and managing director, Asia-Pacific, Royal Caribbean International.
Taking advantage of the U.K. government’s announcement that it would seek to restore its domestic tourist industry as early as mid-May, Royal Caribbean said that its fifth cruise ship to resume service, the Anthem of the Seas, will be operating in the U.K. market for the summer of 2021. Current plans call for the ship to start offering 4-night ocean getaways on July 7 sailing from Southampton and a week later also introducing 5- to 8-night British Isles cruises. The longer cruises will feature visits to destinations including Liverpool, England, Kirkwall, Scotland, and Belfast, Northern Ireland. The company also said it would hold a lottery to award 999 free staterooms to members of the emergency services, National Health Service (NHS), social care sector, and armed forces who all worked tirelessly during the pandemic.
“We miss our UK guests and are as eager as they are to get back to cruising from Southampton," said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "We are delighted with the UK government’s recent announcements regarding cruising and excited to set sail again.”
As with the other cruise ships Royal Caribbean plans to return to service, these cruises will only be available to adult passengers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and those under the age of 18 with negative test results. The company noted that these current health and safety measures, like others, may evolve as they are evaluated on an ongoing basis. It is anticipated that they will also maintain social distancing rules and possibly face coverings aboard the cruise although the company said it is still finalizing its plans based on the U.K. government guidelines.
Royal Caribbean also announced that it will extend its current program of cruises from Singapore through October 2021. Its ship the Quantum of the Seas will continue to offer 2-, 3- and 4-night cruises for Singapore residents in cooperating with the Singapore Tourism Board.
“When we started pilot cruises in Singapore, our aim was to regain the confidence of guests by endorsing cruise operators with rigorous hygiene measures,” said Annie Chang, Director, Cruise, Singapore Tourism Board. “Singapore’s CruiseSafe standards have set a clear benchmark for our cruise partners, who have been diligent in ensuring the measures on board are adhered to. Thus far, we have completed more than 90 sailings with over 120,000 passengers and no reported cases of COVID-19 spreading on board.”
Royal Caribbean also plans to resume sailing from Israel and Cyprus in the Mediterranean this summer. In North America, while waiting for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Royal Caribbean will become the first of the major cruise lines to resume sailing operating two of its ships from Bermuda and the Bahamas.