Last week she completed her test sailing, today Freedom of the Seas will be the first Royal Caribbean International cruise ship to set sail with guests on a so-called revenue cruise. It’s been 15 months in the making since Royal Caribbean first announced it would shut down cruises from the US for 30 days on March 13, 2020.
In March 2020, the cruise line said, ‘Our business is providing great vacations and creating great memories. We look forward to getting back to work as soon as we can.’ And now, after much longer than anticipated, that day is finally here.
Independence Day Special
It should be no surprise that Royal Caribbean chose Freedom of the Seas to be the ship to lead the fleet out of the United States today.
Not only the name; with the ship sailing Independence Day weekend, but the fact that she is one of smaller ships within the fleet with manageable guest numbers to go through the required measures, then say Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas.
Also, Freedom of the Seas is the last in the fleet to get the much-talked-about Royal Amplification; a 116 million dollar upgrade.
Freedom of the Seas concluded its test sailings last week and was granted a Conditional Sailing Certificate from the CDC only days ago.
Royal Caribbean does not require all guests to be vaccinated and therefore had to go through the simulated or test sailings to get the necessary paperwork in order. Other cruise ships, such as Carnival Vista, require vaccinations and do not need to go through the test sailings.
The cruise ship’s first cruise, an Independence Day Special, will sail from Miami and stop at Nassau, the Bahamas, and Royal Caribbean’s private island Perfect Day at CocoCay.
While the vessel can carry 3,782 passengers, the numbers will be significantly lower than that due to the vessel’s required measures regarding social distancing.
The $116 Million Royal Amplification
Freedom of the Seas is more than ready to start sailing, as is its crew. Michael Bayley, the company’s CEO, posted pictures this week of the crew having a great get-together celebrating the return to cruising for the ship. Bayley said:
“Tonight the Freedom crew had a get together (all vaccinated, all tested) and it rained like crazy on the gathering. A sign of good luck coming our way!”
The CEO further hinted that a 4th of July fireworks show would be part of the experience for the guests while at Perfect Day at CocoCay.
The guests will be welcomed on a ship that has received a full bow to stern overhaul, which includes several new features, including newly installed water slides, a new Caribbean pool deck look, new restaurants, and new, dedicated spaces for kids and teens. The Royal Amplification, as it was called, was a massive $116 million investment that guests will surely enjoy.
Royal Caribbean’s Restart Plans
Royal Caribbean plans to start sailing with a vast majority of its ships over the coming weeks. Although Odyssey of the Seas was pushed back to July 31 (due to several covid-positive crew members), other ships will start sailing in the coming weeks. These include:
- Serenade of the Seas: Sailing Alaska cruises from Seattle starting July 19
- Odyssey of the Seas: Sailing Caribbean cruises from Ft. Lauderdale starting July 31
- Allure of the Seas: Sailing Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral starting August 8
- Ovation of the Seas: Sailing Alaska cruises from Seattle starting August 13
- Symphony of the Seas: Sailing Caribbean cruises from Miami starting August 14
- Independence of the Seas sailing Caribbean cruises from Galveston starting August 15
- Mariner of the Seas: Sailing Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral starting August 23
With Freedom of the Seas, Carnival Vista, and Carnival Horizon all resuming sailings this week, it is turning out to be a perfect Independence Day weekend for the cruise lines!