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Celebrity returns to sailing!

FINALLY….some good news for the North American cruise industry.

Celebrity Cruises will return to sailing on June 5, 2021.

The Millennium will homeport in St. Maarten. Bookings will begin on March 25th for 2 different 7-night itineraries, with pricing starting at $1,999 for a veranda stateroom.

The itinerary offerings include:

Aruba, Curaçao and Barbados – This trifecta of spectacular islands offers plenty of wonder from Aruba’s natural rock pools, caves and volcanic lava formations; to the colorful Dutch-colonial-style buildings and the Willemstad City Center UNESCO World Heritage Site in Curaçao; to snorkeling and catamaran sailings in the cool blue waters of Barbados

Tortola, St. Lucia and Barbados – In addition to the many water adventure offerings in Barbados, this itinerary adds in St. Lucia’s lush green landscape and relaxing Sugar Beach; along with one of the British Virgin Islands’ treasures, Tortola, with its mountainous landscape and beautiful sandy coves that are enough to make any beach lover swoon.

All crew and passengers over the age of 18 must be vaccinated and also test negative no more than 72 hours prior to boarding. More details regarding masks, social distancing onboard and excursions will be provided shortly.

Welcome back Celebrity….we’ve missed you!

A Safe Return to Sailing

Royal Caribbean Group has released their comprehensive program to protect everyone’s health onboard their ships.

Below is a link to the panels 74 detailed steps to safeguard the health of crew, passengers and communities.

Reinventing the muster drill

Royal Caribbean has a solution for the muster drill congestion problem. Muster 2.0 has been in development for over a year. This new technology will allow passengers to complete the muster drill without disrupting their vacation prior to the ship’s departure, in accordance with maritime law.

“The health and safety of our guests and crew are our number one priority, and the development of this new muster process is an elegant solution to an outdated, unpopular process,” said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group. “The fact that this will also save guests time and allow the ship to operate without pause means that we can increase health, safety and guest satisfaction simultaneously.” 

“Muster 2.0 represents a natural extension of our mission to improve our guests’ vacation experiences by removing points of friction,” said Jay Schneider, Royal Caribbean Group’s senior vice president of digital. “In this instance, what’s most convenient for our guests is also the safest option in light of needing to reimagine social spaces in the wake of COVID-19.”

Passengers will be able to access the information an individual basis instead of the group approach that has been followed historically. New technology, eMuster™, will be used to help provide the information to guests via their mobile devices and interactive stateroom TVs. Passengers will be able to review the information prior to setting sail, eliminating the need for the traditional large group assemblies. The new approach also enables everyone on board to maintain better spacing as guests move about the ship. 

After reviewing the safety information individually, guests will complete the drill by visiting their assigned assembly station, where a crew member will confirm that all steps have been completed and answer questions.

This is the first dramatic change to the safety drill process in a decade. Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas removed the life jackets from guest staterooms to the muster stations, which improved the evacuation process and has been widely followed throughout the industry. Muster 2.0 is also an initiative that will be part of the comprehensive set of protocols and procedures Royal Caribbean Group is developing along with the Healthy Sail Panel that was recently assembled in collaboration with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.

Royal Caribbean Group is offering to license the patented technology to interested cruise operators and will waive patent license fees during the time the world and industry battle the global pandemic. Patent licenses have already been granted to the company’s joint venture, TUI Cruises GmbH, as well as Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Muster 2.0 was first tested on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas in January 2020. Guests who took part in the mock process indicated a strong preference for the new approach and also reported better comprehension and retention of the safety information.

We LOVE these masks!

We are happy to announce that we have partnered with Enchanting Treasure. They are a small, family owned business located in central Florida. The masks are custom made and can be individualized for each customer. Don’t see an enhancement you like? Or want a different sea creature without pass holder? Just ask them….they will be happy to help.

Please reach out to them on Facebook. Masks are $10 each with $5 US shipping. International orders will be considered on an individual basis.

What will cruising look like in the future?

What will cruising look like when we can finally return? This is the question everyone is asking. The most honest answer? Who really knows?

All cruise lines are developing new safety and health protocols to be implemented once they return to sailing.  Each line has a different name for these new protocols but they are all basically the same. Some of the new features may include the following:

Pre-Boarding & Embarkation

  • Guests will check in online and complete a health questionnaire
  • Guests will receive an assigned arrival time to minimize congestion
  • Guests will undergo temperature checks before entering the terminal
  • Guests will complete a second health questionnaire at the terminal
  • A second temperature check will be done at the ship gangway via contact-free fever screening systems
  • Guests who show signs of illness will be seen by the medical staff and may be denied boarding
  • Luggage will be disinfected before it is brought aboard
  • Additional measures and precautions may be required depending on ports of embarkation/disembarkation

Capacity Control & Social Distancing

  • Reduced capacity when ships resume service
  • Reduced capacity in restaurants, entertainment, fitness center, pool deck, casino, retail spaces, bars and lounges
  • Social distancing of at least six feet of those outside of one’s travel party will be required
  • Reduced capacity in elevators

Disinfection Protocols

  • Frequent disinfection with medical-grade products listed on the EPA List N, and approved for use against COVID-19, norovirus and other infectious diseases
  • Frequent disinfection of all guest accommodations utilizing medical-grade disinfectants
  • Onboard social spaces disinfected with increased frequency including all public bathrooms, corridors, stairwells and elevators, restaurants, bars, lounges, entertainment and enrichment venues, retail spaces, fitness center and spa
  • Touchpoints such as handrails, elevator buttons, table-tops, door handles, etc., disinfected with increased frequency during peak hours
  • All dedicated children’s and teens’ facilities disinfected frequently
  • All recreational equipment disinfected with increased frequency
  • Public areas will be deep cleaned and meticulously disinfected with medical-grade disinfectants during overnight hours
  • Electrostatic foggers will be used as an additional tool for disinfection
  • Additional hand sanitizing stations using alcohol-based sanitizer will be placed strategically throughout the ship

Responsive Mask Policy

Masks will be required in venues and instances where proper distancing is not possible, including restaurants before being seated, show lounges, casino, fitness center, elevators, ship tenders, shoreside terminals and tour dispatch areas

Cruise lines will comply with all destination health authorities, which may require masks ashore

Food & Beverage

  • Open Seating Dining will continue with social distancing considerations
  • Guest seating will ensure ample spacing
  • Disposable cutlery will be provided, upon request
  • In-room dining choices will be available 24/7
  • Contact-free dining service will be implemented in all onboard venues
  • Self-service options will be eliminated in the buffet areas
  • All restaurants, bars and galleys will be disinfected with increased frequency
  • Increased hand washing and use of hand sanitizing stations will be required
  • Stringent procurement guidelines will be enforced

Air Filtration & Ventilation

  • All air filters and cooling coils are frequently thoroughly checked and maintained to ensure the highest standard of air quality possible
  • Guest accommodations and corridors set aside for isolation in the event of illness feature ventilation systems with separate ducting and air supply

Shoreside Partners & Excursions

  • Tour coaches and tenders will be disinfected to meet each cruise lines standards
  • Excursion group sizes will be reduced to help allow for proper social distancing
  • Each line will monitor port regulations and adjust requirements and schedules as needed to maintain guests’ health and wellbeing
  • Cruise lines will strongly recommend that guests who choose to book tours independently consider that these operators may fall short of the disinfection standards that are required of their partners
  • Cruise lines will partner with local destinations and tour operators to ensure the industry-leading health and sanitation protocols extend to the shoreside experience
  • Cruise lines will only visit safe, open ports of call; this may cause changes to the itinerary
  • Guests will be kept up to date with the latest confirmed itinerary changes
  • Additional health screenings may be required by local health officials before disembarkation in certain ports

Crew member Standards & Practices

  • Crew to be tested for COVID-19 prior to boarding
  • Crew will undergo frequent temperature checks and regular health monitoring
  • Crew will wear face shields, masks and other necessary PPE when interacting with guests
  • Crew transfer between ships will be minimized
  • Crew are prohibited from personal contact with guests such as handshaking and hugging
  • Crew are trained on health and safety measures

Medical Center & Services

  • The medical team comprises a doctor and nurses aboard each ship, available around the clock

Public Health Officer

  • The Public Health Officer is trained in the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program
  • Oversees outbreak mitigation and cleaning protocols
  • Closely coordinates with medical teams
  • Ensures that daily cleaning protocols are in accordance with CDC guidelines

We are all anxious to return to cruising. Hopefully, this will occur sooner rather than later. Right now, sailing is paused until the end of September 2020 and Princess has just announced a further pause till December 15, 2020. It would not be surprising to see other lines follow this extended pause.

Until then….wash your hands, keep physical distance from others, stay home if you feel sick and wear a mask when you go out.

We wish you fair winds and following seas.

We shall return.

Wanted to send out a quick note to everyone, wishing you all the best of health and happy planning for future travels.

Had breakfast al fresco this morning. Weather reminded us of dining on the aft deck of a cruise ship in Ketchikan, Alaska. Hoping we get to do that again very soon.

Why cruise Alaska?

Why are you going to Alaska again? Aren’t you tired of it? Isn’t it boring, seeing the same ports over and over? What is so special about it?

I am asked these questions every year when we book our annual Alaska cruise. And no….I WILL NEVER GET TIRED OF ALASKA!!!

Each cruise is different. Yes, we sail to the same ports and with the same cruise line (Celebrity) and often on the same ship. But each sailing is different. The weather is different…sometimes rainy and cold, sometimes sunny and hot….but always beautiful. The passengers change…we’ve made lifelong friends onboard. And the crew changes…but we somehow manage to find crew members we know from previous cruises.

Alaska has an magic that can’t be described. Gazing upon the majestic mountains, the blue ocean and knowing that you are witnessing pure wilderness is amazing.

There is nothing like watching whales surface beside your ship….seeing the water spouts from their blow holes creating rainbows in the sunlight, or watching dolphins play in the waves ahead of the ship as she gently glides through the water.

I can watch the magnificent bald eagles soar overhead and circle the ship looking for fish in the water below for hours.

And the seaplanes! I can hear the roar of their engines in my memory as I write.

Don’t miss out on the glaciers….watching them calve and hearing the ice thunder as they move is incredible.

Exploring the ports is always fun. You don’t need to book excursions. Of course, it is an excellent way to experience all that Alaska has to offer!

We have done train and bike rides, zip lining, float planes, horseback riding, beer tasting. a lumberjack show and whale watching.

Now we enjoy just wandering around and discovering bits of history that are tucked in out of the way corners. Talk to the locals…they know all the secret spots. Do some hiking….the views you will be rewarded with are incredible. We have discovered small salmon streams loaded with spawning fish and have even seen a young bear raiding a trash can in Ketchikan. Luckily, he was far enough away that he didn’t know we were there. He was FAR more interested in that trash can!

I highly recommend going to Alaska at least once in your lifetime. Yes, it is expensive. But it is an experience you will never forget or regret.

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