If you had to name one industry that has been affected most by recent world events, you would be hard pushed to name anything above the cruise industry. From horror stories at the start of the pandemic of passengers and crew sailing on infected ships to worldwide sailing ban, it has been a tough 16 months. I even stated how I would never cruise again. However, “it is a funny old world,” and within days of cruising, returning to the U.K. I was pondering booking my first cruise. Our Return to Cruising would be on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas.
In October 2019, we had our last foreign trip on Anthem of the Seas. It seems appropriate that our first cruise is back on the fabulous Anthem of the Sea. However, how would it change in these strange times?
These initial sailings from the United Kingdom are not necessarily how you will recollect Cruises from the past. However, that hasn’t stopped most major cruise lines from announcing a summer season of United Kingdom staycation cruises. The requirement for vaccination does vary between lines, but for the initial sailings, the following are in place:-
- Cruises are capped at 1000 passengers or 50% capacity whichever is smaller.
- Ships can only stop at United Kingdom Ports. However, this isn’t necessarily true which we will cover in an upcoming post.
- Only United Kingdom residents are allowed to sail.
On top of these requirements, cruise lines have to follow rigorous health and safety guidance. The majority of these requirements ensure increased social distancing. Examples of how social distancing has been implemented include:-
- Reduced capacity in theatres and bars.
- Only one party or four guests allowed in elevators.
- Floor markers to ensure distancing.
- You have to prebook the majority of activites through the Royal Caribbean App.
The Royal Caribbean App is one of the biggest changes on this cruise; you do need it for everything. Understandably Royal Caribbean has tried to remove the majority of paper. You need to scan a QR code through the App for menus, although paper copies are available. The App is also the easiest way to book show reservations, plus you no longer get paper copies of bills. You even now complete the majority of the muster drill on the App. While the App isn’t necessary, and alternatives are available, I do suspect you will be at a disadvantage without it.
Also, to keep you safe, hand gel is everywhere, and face masks are non-negotiable while inside the ship. Face masks must be worn inside when not dining or drinking. However, the interpretation of drinking appears to be sat down at a table.
Despite these changes, the initial opinion on the cruise is positive. 1000 guests do mean there are plenty of empty spaces for a quiet moment. However, the early atmosphere is fantastic, assisted by an enthusiastic crew who are delighted to be working again. The cruise program is jam-packed with activities and entertainment despite there being fewer guests.
16 months of not sailing is a long time, but the ship looks great. Our first night meal in the main restaurant was wonderful, and we are excited for the first day at sea as we cruise towards Belfast. In fact, everything feels great apart from the WiFi! It seems everyone using the App has really slowed it down.
Cruising is back, and at the moment, it feels fantastic.
We are currently on our Tour of the United Kingdom 2021 Staycation. To read more of our adventures, click here. Internet reception is presently a bit hit and miss, so the live posts will be a bit sporadic.