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possible mandatory COVID testing for Caribbean cruises


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Coronavirus tests may be mandated for Caribbean cruises and a regional task force is in place, while it's possible service could resume in China and Australia before end-October, Royal Caribbean officials said Monday.

MSC became the first cruise line to mandate coronavirus swab testing for all passengers before embarkation in Europe, and Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley indicated that's being considered by his company, particularly for the Caribbean.

'Very likely testing will occur'

'Testing seems to be very relevant and discussions are under way ... Testing is part of the thinking, but we have not yet reached a point in our protocols where we're ready to publish and release for discussion,' Bayley said during RCL's second quarter earnings call.

'But it's very likely testing will occur,' Bayley continued, ' ... Particularly as it relates to the Caribbean, that testing is very much at the front of how people are thinking of protocols for returning.'

FCCA Caribbean/Latin America task force

The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association has formed a task force with tourism ministers and many prime ministers from the Caribbean and Latin America participating. The purpose is to 'start thinking through how we're going to safely resume,' Bayley said.

The prevalence of the virus in the source markets and at the destinations is key.

Certain US states like Florida, one of the coronavirus hot spots, are important source markets for Caribbean cruises.

But 'we do draw from the entire country and of course we have an extensive international footprint as well,' Bayley said.

Healthy Sail Panel timing

The Healthy Sail Panel is likely to release its findings by late August, Bayley indicated. However, just a few days ago, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio put the timing as around when the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's public comment period closes, on Sept. 21.

Bayley predicted some 'meaningful discussion' with CDC could start toward the end of September.

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain cautioned the process will work more like a dimmer than a light switch. Some things may emerge in early fall, he said, but then there will be changes. It will be a continuous process.

China, Australia before end-October?

The Royal Caribbean Group's sailings are suspended through October, with two exceptions: China and Australia.

'It may well be possible that we'll resume operations in China, and potentially Australia, before the end of October but it's uncertain,' Bayley said. 'I'm not making any statements that's going to happen, but there's some possibility,' he added.

Europe feedback encouraging

The recent restart of cruises in Europe will provide insight for the industry. 

Royal Caribbean Group joint venture affiliates TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises have begun with sailings to nowhere. Royal Caribbean CFO Jason Liberty said customer surveys and net promoter scores have been 'relatively high,' showing that even with protocols in place, cruising can still offer a good vacation experience.

 

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If testing becomes a reality, I wonder how they will end dealing with false positives?   Will insurance cover your losses if you end up covering negative a couple of days later? 

 

I also wonder when the CDC will lift the Level 3 travel advisories for many of the ports?  I know I won't have health insurance for any Covid issue if I sail before these advisories are lifted.

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My assumption is the lines are going to have to offer FCC ( maybe even refund) at minimum if you test negative and can't travel.  Like always I believe any travel arranged outside of the cruise line you would be on your own.  Like you say I doubt travel insurance will come into play since it's covid related.

 

 

 

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I will not plan a vacation that requires a COVID test - way too much that can go wrong with that.

 

1. take the test before you leave home - it will probably have to be within a day or two of leaving, and really not sure how easy or reliable it will be to get test results back. I know many many people who have been tested at work, I've seen results back as quickly as the same day and as long as a week. So you book everything, and your test doesn't come back in time for you to leave - can't see cruise lines refunding anything since you didn't get refused boarding for a positive test.

 

2. Take the test in embarkation city - 1. if it comes back positive, will i be able to immediately board a flight home or will I get stuck isolating in the embarkation city? 2. Who will pay for my flight home and/or isolation costs if I do get stuck in the embarkation city

 

3. Taking test mid trip - all the same questions, what happens if it comes back positive, can I get home, and who pays for it either way.

 

Nope

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The test that would be done will likely be different than what we are seeing mostly in the US right now.

if testing is done at the port, they might use IDNow or comparable test. There is also a new saliva test that works much like a home pregnancy test. That test could be done multiple times during a cruise - it is actually designed to be an epidemiological test, repeated daily to arrest transmission in a population.

if they require a PCR result to board , then offering a rapid test periodically onboard would alleviate many of the timing issues of PCR.

It all depends on how much virus is out in the community - many strategies would work well if the virus circulating in the community is at a lower level.

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This makes sense to have testing, hopefully the testing can be better and results much quicker on them.  Still a work in progress,   If no vaccine is available this would be the next option that needs to be taken I would think.  Still to much unknowns out there for everything.  

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I would be much happier taking a cruise if testing was done before embarkation and also during the cruise if it is 7 days or more.    I would still get tested before I left my home state so that would lessen the chances of a false positive at the pier.   If airlines can do a COVID test before boarding so can the cruise lines.   I would rather a test had a false positive instead of a false negative.   Even with the test anyone in a high risk group should not chance traveling.

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"COVID-19 testing for all, only MSC excursions

The new procedures include COVID-19 testing for all passengers and crew prior to embarkation. During the initial phase of operations, passengers will go ashore only as part of an organized MSC Cruises’ excursion.

A redesigned embarkation procedure with digital check-in processes will be implemented. Universal health screening includes a temperature check, a health questionnaire and a COVID-19 swab test. Depending on the results and according to the passenger's medical/travel history, a secondary health screening or COVID-19 test will take place. Anyone testing positive, displaying symptoms or presenting a temperature will be denied boarding."

Following guidelines from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, travelers from countries categorized as high risk will be required to take a molecular RT-PCR test within 72 hours before joining the ship. All crew will be tested for COVID-19 prior to embarkation and regularly during their contract."
  
These plans seem to me to be impractical to near impossible for most travelers,   AND if denied  boarding , they could be left without any options to return home or be subject to quarantine at the place they are rejected,.. many plans  look great on paper but do not work well in the real world.  If X goes this route hope we can  cancel our bookings and be refunded what will become a useless fcc..
 
yes,  we want to be safe but these requirments are not workable in our opinion.
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12 minutes ago, hcat said:

 

These plans seem to me to be impractical to near impossible for most travelers,   AND if denied  boarding , they could be left without any options to return home or be subject to quarantine at the place they are rejected,.. many plans  look great on paper but do not work well in the real world.  If X goes this route hope we can  cancel our bookings and be refunded what will become a useless fcc..
 
yes,  we want to be safe but these requirments are not workable in our opinion.

While there are details still published, I would rather see tough requirements like these at the outset that can be gradually relaxed over time. We've already seen restarts fail because the revised measures weren't strict enough. 

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I agree.  I just think it will be a long time before tests are available on a large scale for leisure travel since testing is still such a big problem now. Our area has never had tests on demand. People must be screened before approval, and tests done for cause take too long before results are come back. I’m afraid it will only get worse once school starts.

 

 

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Dh recently had outpatient knee surgery the first week it was opened in our area. He had been waiting for a few months.  The pre testing requirements were rigorous  and he had to run around getting all the testing done including the covid test,. On surgery day only he could enter the facility. Everyone inside was masked and distanced.  Some of the new cruise procedures remind me of all that!

 

  Cruising is an "optional" recreational activity, and to us not worth the added stress and extra steps.  If they would give us our fcc back in money  or let us use it in 2022 for APEX we would be satisfied......we'll see how it all comes together.

 

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39 minutes ago, boscobeans said:

A NEGATIVE result from ANY test is NO proof that you are Covid-19 free. 

 

 

 

No, but it's a lot better than no test at all....  I will gladly take one or more if it will help the ships get sailing again...

 

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28 minutes ago, Gracie115 said:

 

No, but it's a lot better than no test at all....  I will gladly take one or more if it will help the ships get sailing again...

 

Would you want to cruise with a group of of people who may have all been exposed to Covid-19 on a bus or plane a day or two earlier. 

They could all test negative but all be highly infected??

 

Just like NORO.  Doesn't necessarily show up the same day you get it....

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4 hours ago, Covepointcruiser said:

I would be much happier taking a cruise if testing was done before embarkation and also during the cruise if it is 7 days or more.    I would still get tested before I left my home state so that would lessen the chances of a false positive at the pier.   If airlines can do a COVID test before boarding so can the cruise lines.   I would rather a test had a false positive instead of a false negative.   Even with the test anyone in a high risk group should not chance traveling.

Unfortunately the problem with test for active disease the problem is largely false negatives.

 

The problem with antibody tests tends towards the false positive direction.

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42 minutes ago, boscobeans said:

Would you want to cruise with a group of of people who may have all been exposed to Covid-19 on a bus or plane a day or two earlier. 

They could all test negative but all be highly infected??

 

Just like NORO.  Doesn't necessarily show up the same day you get it....

 

I wear a mask, they wear a mask, we get tested, once, twice, we "socially distance" where needed and yes I'd be happy to get on a cruise.  Certainly won't be on a bus and I drive to the port from where I live, so do I have some advantage? yes.

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3 hours ago, Babr said:

I agree.  I just think it will be a long time before tests are available on a large scale for leisure travel since testing is still such a big problem now. Our area has never had tests on demand. People must be screened before approval, and tests done for cause take too long before results are come back. I’m afraid it will only get worse once school starts.

 

 

We have testing on demand.  The problem is two fold results coming back usually in 2-3 days but sometimes a week+ and of course lots of false results both ways.

The restart of school in Arizona so far is all online.  In person likely to be a big big problem.  You are correct. 

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1 hour ago, Gracie115 said:

 

I wear a mask, they wear a mask, we get tested, once, twice, we "socially distance" where needed and yes I'd be happy to get on a cruise.  Certainly won't be on a bus and I drive to the port from where I live, so do I have some advantage? yes.

 

"... do I have some advantage?"    Yes you are protected..  The test is meaningless since you being protected has nothing to do with others getting Covid19.  

 

I would NOT have a problem with the mask and social distancing without any thoughts as to a test that means nothing without a 14 days quarantine after a NEGATIVE RESULT.. 

 

Masks and distance are all my wife or I need. She is exposed to a hundred or more clients a day who may or may not have been tested and who may or may not have Covid-19. 

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36 minutes ago, boscobeans said:

 

"... do I have some advantage?"    Yes you are protected..  The test is meaningless since you being protected has nothing to do with others getting Covid19.  

 

I would NOT have a problem with the mask and social distancing without any thoughts as to a test that means nothing without a 14 days quarantine after a NEGATIVE RESULT.. 

 

Masks and distance are all my wife or I need. She is exposed to a hundred or more clients a day who may or may not have been tested and who may or may not have Covid-19. 

 

I work with the public every day, wear a mask 8-10 hours at a stretch, 6 days a week.  Pretty much go to work & go home to stay safe.  Would love to be able to get on a ship, spend the majority of my time sitting on my balcony, sipping wine, reading and relaxing and going to dining room occasionally, but right now would probably opt for more meals in my room.   Right now that sounds wonderful..... but like everyone we wait until things are safer..... just hope that happens sooner rather than later.

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13 hours ago, Gracie115 said:

 

No, but it's a lot better than no test at all....  I will gladly take one or more if it will help the ships get sailing again...

 

 

17 hours ago, Covepointcruiser said:

I would be much happier taking a cruise if testing was done before embarkation and also during the cruise if it is 7 days or more.    I would still get tested before I left my home state so that would lessen the chances of a false positive at the pier.   If airlines can do a COVID test before boarding so can the cruise lines.   I would rather a test had a false positive instead of a false negative.   Even with the test anyone in a high risk group should not chance traveling.

 

Would you still be happy to get tested at embarkation or mid cruise if a positive result that came back mid cruise resulted in you being disembarked at a foreign port and being unable to fly home for 14 days? Or if one person's test comes back positive mid cruise means that the cruise is immediately canceled and the whole ship turns back to the embarkation port to disembark and you are again, stuck with being in "quarantine" status since you just came off the ship with a positive.  Until they answer this question, there's no way I would take a covid test where the results came back mid cruise. 

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We would happily take tests if that is what is mandated and/or recommended.  I do not in any way believe that will mitigate cases to any large degree as tests are a measure at a point in time.  With a vaccine we will cruise (hopeful for July 2021, but realistic that it might not happen.) We would also wear masks as needed and social distance as needed.  We purposely booked an Alaskan cruise in a suite as 3/4 of our party has been on an Alaskan cruise and feel we could still have a good time between our two suites without much need for activity on the ship per se.  I found in Alaska the pool usage was pretty limited, it was more about the scenery which from two suites in different locations, we feel we could still appreciate what an Alaskan cruise has to offer.  Would I want to wear a mask, social distance on a Caribbean cruise?  Probably not. For me, it's largely circumstantial, but mask wearing and having to take tests however often is needed are not deterrents in and of themselves.

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I think for now enjoying our back deck and nice backyard  will have to do. We also have the water nearby for views (  but too many sharks  for swimming)

 

Hoping for enjoyment of our lanai in Fl for the colder weather. We have tix to fly south but might rent a car and drive..depends on  how things are in Nov

 

We do not object to testing (results seem to take  about a week where we are); and we comply 100 % with  our state's mask rules.....but we are  not interested in all the posible rules set forth for taking a cruise..We.do not want to be stranded on a ship, departure port or any place along the way,.

 

Hoping our 2022 cruise on APEX will be without all  the extra rules . Looking  to Lift and Shift our 2021 cruise out of Tampa!

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1 hour ago, sanger727 said:

 

 

Would you still be happy to get tested at embarkation or mid cruise if a positive result that came back mid cruise resulted in you being disembarked at a foreign port and being unable to fly home for 14 days? Or if one person's test comes back positive mid cruise means that the cruise is immediately canceled and the whole ship turns back to the embarkation port to disembark and you are again, stuck with being in "quarantine" status since you just came off the ship with a positive.  Until they answer this question, there's no way I would take a covid test where the results came back mid cruise. 

 

 

I would expect that they won't be doing the tests that takes days to come back but the one that has a 15 minute test time.  

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2 minutes ago, Gracie115 said:

 

 

I would expect that they won't be doing the tests that takes days to come back but the one that has a 15 minute test time.  

 

Ok, so if you take a mid cruise test that comes back in 15 minutes it's the same issue... And I'm not sure when that technology will be readily available and reliable. This just occurred on one of the first Alaska cruises where the person embarked and didn't get their results back until mid cruise....

 

 I think everyone is focused on cruising being "safe" if everyone tests negative; and that's all well and good. But before we get that far, you also have to consider the ramifications for a positive test for a passenger or cruise; which is going to happen

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40 minutes ago, cruisetonowhere10 said:

We would happily take tests if that is what is mandated and/or recommended.  I do not in any way believe that will mitigate cases to any large degree as tests are a measure at a point in time.  With a vaccine we will cruise (hopeful for July 2021, but realistic that it might not happen.) We would also wear masks as needed and social distance as needed.  We purposely booked an Alaskan cruise in a suite as 3/4 of our party has been on an Alaskan cruise and feel we could still have a good time between our two suites without much need for activity on the ship per se.  I found in Alaska the pool usage was pretty limited, it was more about the scenery which from two suites in different locations, we feel we could still appreciate what an Alaskan cruise has to offer.  Would I want to wear a mask, social distance on a Caribbean cruise?  Probably not. For me, it's largely circumstantial, but mask wearing and having to take tests however often is needed are not deterrents in and of themselves.

 

Agree completely and we've also booked a suite for our next cruises with the idea in mind that we will enjoy the ocean and the spectacular service that Celebrity offers.  

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