Cruise News Update: August 27, 2022

Your weekly cruise news update as major lines continue to ease requirements, gratuities increase and expected delays.

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Here’s your weekly cruise news update, which is mainly on Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean as protocols continue to ease. We’ve also got coverage on one of the busiest cruise ports, where passengers could be in for some major delays, but it’s not as bad as you think.

Cruise News Update

It was another important week for the cruise industry as major cruise lines continued to ease requirements, making it even easier to take a cruise.

So we’ve got protocol updates from Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean, including self-testing being allowed. There’s also coverage on Royal Caribbean gratuities and major delays expected at one of the busiest cruise homeports in the U.S., but it’s not as bad as you think!

Royal Caribbean Gratuity Increase

For the first time since 2018, Royal Caribbean is increasing gratuities and has already started including the new higher in the documentation sent to guests. For standard staterooms, the rate is going up by $1.50, and for those booked in suites by $1.

It now means that the new daily rate for staterooms is $16.00 per person. For suites, the new daily rate is $18.50 per person. The increase will go into effect from September 7, 2022.

Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas
Photo Credit: Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock

Previously, the rate for staterooms was $14.50 and for suites was $17.50. It’s also important to know that the new increased rate is now shown on the official website. Guests will be able to pre-pay and lock in the previous lower gratuity rate before September 7.

There is an automatic 18% gratuity charge when purchasing beverages, using room service and the mini bar. Some departments are also not included in gratuities, such as crew working in the Spa, Casino and Duty-Free shops.

Port Canaveral Delays for Moon Launch Day

Cruise guests at Port Canaveral on Monday, August 29, 2022, should be prepared for traffic delays as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) attempts the Artemis 1 launch from Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center north of the port.

With a two-hour morning launch window opening at 8:33 a.m., heavy traffic and congestion could impact both cruise guests debarking vessels as well as those arriving to set sail.

Five cruise ships are scheduled to be docked at Port Canaveral on the historic launch day: Royal Caribbean International’s Mariner of the Seas and Independence of the Seas; Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Freedom and Carnival Liberty; and Disney Cruise Line’s newest vessel, Disney Wish.

Artemis at Cape Canaveral, Florida
Photo Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

Together, these ships have a guest capacity of more than 18,200 passengers. When accounting for both debarking guests at the end of their cruise as well as arriving passengers ready to set sail, there may be 36,000 or more passengers moving to and from Port Canaveral at the time of the launch.

At the same time, local authorities are expecting 100,000-200,000 visitors or more in the area in anticipation of the Artemis 1 launch.

Port Canaveral is advising extra travel time for the launch day. Even guests who may have arrived near Port Canaveral a day or two before their cruise should note that local traffic will be heavy and can cause delays between hotels and the cruise port.

Even though cruise passengers may be facing delays, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch the historic launch, guests could have some of the best views in the area.

Royal Caribbean Eases Requirements

In a simplification to its protocols, Royal Caribbean International has announced that beginning on Monday, September 5, 2022, all guests – regardless of vaccination status – will be welcomed aboard a greater variety of itineraries. The available itineraries include:

  • All sailings from Florida homeports
  • All sailings from Los Angeles, California; Galveston, Texas; and New Orleans, Louisiana
  • All Oasis of the Seas sailings from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • All sailings from any European homeport
  • All sailings to and from Greece

Some testing guidelines do remain in effect for Royal Caribbean guests. For European cruises that call on ports in Greece or Spain, for example, any travelers who are not considered “up to date” according to guidelines in Europe, must take a test onboard their ship prior to debarking.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships
Photo Credit: Solarisys / Shutterstock

In addition to more opening of cruise itineraries to a greater range of passengers, Royal Caribbean International has also made its pre-cruise testing requirements even simpler.

As of September 5, 2022, fully vaccinated guests will no longer need a negative pre-cruise test result for any sailing 9 nights or shorter, unless on sailings that visit Greece.

Unvaccinated guests age 5 and older must still test before sailing, but can do so up to three days prior to embarkation, regardless of cruise length. Self-tests will be accepted for this pre-cruise testing.

All guests, regardless of vaccination status, must continue to test before any cruises of 10 nights or longer, no matter where they may be sailing.

Do note that cruise line protocols are changing fast, and some Caribbean cruise destinations have also recently eased requirements, so do keep checking on the latest from the cruise line.

Carnival Protocols Update for Two Ships

Carnival Cruise Line has made some amendments to cruises sailing in Europe, specifically for cruises onboard Carnival Pride and the maiden transatlantic crossing from Southampton onboard Carnival Celebration later this year. 

In a letter sent to guests booked onboard a cruise sailing in or from Europe this year, Carnival Crusie Line has provided some updated health and safety measures that guests will need to comply with. 

The changes are for Carnival Pride, which is sailing several cruises in the United Kingdom, Western and Northern Europe, and in the Mediterranean through November. The new protocols also apply to Carnival Celebration, which is sailing her maiden transatlantic voyage and first cruise ever from Southampton, UK, on November 6.

Carnival Pride Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: StudioPortoSabbia / Shutterstock

For all cruises, except those visiting Greece and Spain, all unvaccinated guests ages five and older should provide a negative result of a lab-administered or supervised (by a medical professional), self-administered PCR, or antigen test taken up to 3 days before embarkation. 

For cruises that visit Greece, all guests five years old and above must have a negative result of a PCR test taken within three days before sailing or an antigen test within two days before sailing. This is especially relevant for those sailing onboard Carnival Pride.

For cruises that visit Spain, which includes both Carnival Celebration and Carnival Pride, all unvaccinated guests, 12 years and older, must present the negative results of a PCR test taken within three days before sailing or an antigen test within two days before sailing.

Carnival Cruise Line Allows Self-Testing

With travel restrictions around the world continuing to ease for different cruise destinations, Carnival Cruise Line has updated its testing protocols once again.

The new update clarifies the use of at-home self-tests, which do not require a health professional to monitor the test and results.

All unvaccinated cruise passengers setting sail with Carnival Cruise Line on Monday, September 6, 2022, or later still need to present a negative test result to be cleared for embarkation, but the type of test can vary depending on the cruise destination.

Carnival Cruise Ship in Florida
Photo Credit: Mia2you / Shutterstock.com

For most destinations, Carnival will begin permitting guests to use self-tests, which can be administered at home and do not require oversight from a doctor, pharmacist, or telehealth visit.

Monitored tests or those done in a clinical setting are still acceptable, of course, but the option for self-testing opens up more options for cruise travelers, making pre-cruise testing more convenient and less burdensome when dealing with last-minute travel preparations.

Self-tests are only acceptable for sailings of 15 nights or shorter. Guests should also note that some destinations will not permit self-testing.

Regardless of the type of test taken – whether a self-test, a home monitored test, or a laboratory test – unvaccinated guests will be required to present their negative test results as part of embarkation.

Carnival Cruise Line encourages guests to use the free VeriFLY app for a smoother and faster embarkation, but advises the printed test results can also be presented.

More Cruise Headlines

It was just another busy week of cruise news, and we’ve got all the coverage, including Royal Caribbean detailing year-round Singapore cruises, bookings open for the Carnival Luminosa, the Celebrity Ascent cruise ship reaching a major construction milestone, Carnival cruise ship rescue at sea, MSC Seascape completes sea trials, The Bahamas plans to ease requirements for cruise ship visitors and so much more, which you can check here.

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