Mr and Mrs My Vacation Lady were invited to sail on board the Oasis of the Seas from Aug 22-28, 2021. This was a simulation cruise, test cruise or what I told people- a guinea pig cruise.
We were invited by our Royal Caribbean sales manager to help the cruise line and the CDC test the processes and procedures for future sailings on the Oasis of the Seas.
As I am writing this- the day after we returned home, I can honestly say that I felt safer on board this sailing than I do going to a local store that doesn’t require masks.
ALL crew, staff and passengers had to be fully vaccinated. All passengers needed to prove a negative test for covid within 3 days of sailing. The staff and crew were masked at all times. All passengers had to be masked indoors unless eating or drinking. There were a few areas designated VACCINED GUESTS ONLY where we were able to sit indoors unmasked. All vaccinated guests were given a blue bracelet to wear that showed we were vaccinated. There were no passengers under the age of 18 on board either.
There were some passengers who were designated as not vaccinated and they were limited to specific dining rooms, levels of the theatre and banned from special vaccinated only areas, as well as the spa. Those Unvaxxers were actually vaccinated but were being treated as unvaccinated passengers for test/simulation purposes.
The CDC was testing the procedures and was supposedly on board but I never saw them wearing a badge or sign that pointed them out.
Getting on the ship in Bayonne (Cape Liberty NJ) was like coming home. Getting through the terminal and heading directly to the ship was a breeze. YES, we did need to present the paper copies of our covid vaccination cards as well as the negative covid test (dates were checked to ensure they were within 3 days). As we boarded the ships, I felt like we were celebrities walking down the red carpet. We were cheered, welcomed so warmly that it was downright emotional. There were tears from many of the staff and crew members who had been out of work for many months and were overjoyed to be back on the seas.
We found out that there were 900 passengers on board. About 300 were very high level Royal Caribbean cruisers. Many were travel professionals. Royal Caribbean had sales managers and employees on board. Then the balance were lottery winners. Royal Caribbean asked for volunteers to cruise for free (well almost free) and zillions responded. There were probably 300 of the lottery winners on board as well.
For a ship the size of the Oasis, which can hold 5400 guests, this was an empty sailing. I have never sailed on a such an empty ship. It was very obviously a cruise set up for social distancing. Seating in the lobby, lounges and restaurants were marked as unavailable to allow for social distancing. There were no buffets as we knew them – even in the Windjammer café. Staff stood behind the food stations to serve guests. Other items, like salads and desserts were set up in individual serving plates that you could take. No tongs, no grabbing, no trays. Wait staff served beverages, so you couldn’t even get your own water. Tables were cleaned off very quickly. Other Covid safety protocol-
- Hand sanitizer all over.
- It was required to use it before entering any restaurant or venue.
- Masking indoors.
- We noticed constant – and I mean constant- cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces.
- Public bathrooms near the main restaurant and theater had an attendant who opened the door for you and cleaned each stall after use.
While I can give you a day by day review, what I would rather tell you is this—
- If you are comfortable traveling, YES, YOU CAN CRUISE
- On a Royal Caribbean cruise, all of the staff and crew and almost all of the guests will be vaccinated so you can feel safe or safer than at a resort- or even the grocery store.
- The cruise lines are taking this all very seriously and are going above and beyond when it comes to Covid protocol
- I was told that IF you show any symptoms of Covid while on board, both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity have chartered plans on standby to remove those ill passengers off the ship and fly them back home.
This was a test cruise required before the cruise line will be able to resume sailing so it may not be like a regularly scheduled cruise but yes, the team at My Vacation Lady will book cruises for you for 2021 and 2022 IF you are fully vaccinated. If you feel comfortable traveling now, there are some fabulous prices on cruises.
Let us know if we can help you plan your next vacation.