What’s New At Royal Caribbean? Tampa in the Plans, and Sunbed Charges

Latest Royal Caribbean news update on ships that have restarted operations, developments on Tampa, and charging for sunbeds.

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A considerable amount of news has come out in recent weeks about Royal Caribbean, and it can be hard to keep track of what matters. From health regulations to COVID cases on board the ships, a vast amount of ships restarting operations in a short amount of time, including the biggest cruise ship in the world, and news about ports that will start operating soon. A lot is going on at Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

Of course, the cruise industry wouldn’t be itself if there wasn’t a bit of controversy thrown in for good measure. Royal Caribbean recently started charging guests for reserving the little Casita’s onboard Odyssey of the Seas. While this could be a control measure to regulate popularity, it sure has people up in arms about the cruise line trying to squeeze a few bucks.

Twelve Ships Sailing and Counting

The past two months have been incredibly successful for Royal Caribbean; no less than twelve of the cruise line’s ships are operating worldwide, from Singapore to the UK, in the Bahamas, the Caribbean, and even two ships in Alaska.

This week we also saw the return of Symphony of the Seas. The largest cruise ship in the world and one of the most giant ships to ever sail the seven seas departed from PortMiami in Florida on August 14 and became the tenth ship in the fleet to restart.

Symphony of the Seas in Miami
Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock.com

It has been a busy week in any case for the cruise line as in one weekend, besides Symphony, the cruise line started operation with Harmony of the Seas in Barcelona, Ovation of the Seas departed from the Port of Seattle, Washington on a seven-night Alaska Glacier voyage on August 13, 2021, and Independence of the Seas became the first in the fleet to restart operations out of Galveston, Texas on August 15, 2021.

This many ships operating has also brought out the critics, returning from their lack of complaints in the last year and a half, saying the cruise ships are a risk to public health. Something Michael Bayley, the President, and CEO of Royal Caribbean, thinks is an overreaction:

Do we have Covid positive guests and crew? Yes! As all guests are required to be tested before boarding regardless of vaccination status, we typically have 2 to 10 guests a week (out of thousands of guests boarding 12 ships) who do not board because they test positive! Do we have Covid positive guests onboard? Yes! How many guests are positive? Typically 1 or 2 of a thousand plus guests a week per ship. How is that possible? Testing captures status at a point of time, and if the guest is incubating infection, then the test will miss it. Yes vaccinated guests test positive for Covid and typically are asymptomatic.

So there are cases, but these are usually found before the voyage starts, and if not, they are found during the strict procedures that are implemented onboard.

Is Royal Caribbean Coming Back to Tampa?

While cruises have been steadily departing from PortMiami, Port Canaveral, and Port Everglades, it has been relatively quiet on the other side of Florida. Cruises from Tampa have not yet returned, and it could be a bit longer before it happens. However, mid-October seems to be when Royal Caribbean starts sailing from the Gulf of Mexico again.

Port of Tampa
Port of Tampa (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock)

Paul Andersen, the Tampa Bay Port director:

“Port Tampa Bay enthusiastically welcomes back our cruise line partners. Beginning in mid-October, Royal Caribbean International will resume sailing from our port. Tampa has long been regarded as an attractive homeport thanks to the variety of quality hotel and dining options, our world-class beaches and nearby attractions. The return of the cruise industry will have a far-reaching economic impact on our region.”

It looks like Serenade of the Seas, currently in Alaska, will ​​be offering 4- and 5-night Western Caribbean cruises starting October 16.

Also Read: Cruises Out of Tampa: The Pros and Cons

Is Royal Caribbean Charging For Sunbeds?

No, Royal Caribbean is not charging for the use of the standard sunbeds on the open decks. However, the misunderstanding that has been growing is understandable. The cruise line has recently started charging for the Casita’s spread out over the open decks.

Odyssey of the Seas Open Deck
Photo Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

According to the Royal Caribbean Cruise Planner, the hugely popular shaded spots are available for $149 for a port day and $199 for a sea day. Guests get use of the Casita for the entire day, including two sunbeds, towels, drinks, an electrical outlet, drinks, and a call point for additional drinks and food.

Also Read: Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas Completes First Two Maiden Calls

While many will think this is an additional way for the cruise line to squeeze a few dollars out of guests, it could just be a way to control the popularity of the little hideouts. We have all seen people fighting over a sunbed, let alone a fabulous little Casita.

So far, the charge has only been implemented onboard Odyssey of the Seas, and it could very well be that the Casita’s will remain available on a first-come, first-serve basis if they go unsold.


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