(12:15 p.m. EDT) -- As Royal Caribbean gears up for a restart in Asia in December, the line has released several infographics outlining changes passengers will see on its ship in that region.
Quantum of the Seas will start sailing from Singapore on December 1, at half capacity with only passengers who live in the country and on "Ocean Getaways", or cruises to nowhere. While Royal Caribbean Group has a partial interest in TUI Cruises, a German line that has also resumed cruising, the sailing could mark the first Royal Caribbean ship to welcome back passengers worldwide; the line has canceled all U.S. sailings through November 30 and is awaiting word on whether the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will lift its No Sail order, currently en force through the end of the month.
A series of infographics on Royal Caribbean's booking page for the cruises show what changes have been made on the 4,180-passenger ship. Among the differences:
COVID Testing Before Boarding
All passengers traveling on Quantum must take a COVID-19 test within 48 to 72 hours before boarding and be able to prove a negative result. The cost of the test is included in the fare for sailings departing on or before January 30, 2021.
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If a passenger or someone in their travel group tests positive within three weeks of the cruise, they will receive a 100 percent Future Cruise Credit (FCC). The same credit will be given if a passenger or someone in their group tests positive at the terminal
Passengers and their travel parties who test positive during their cruise will be given a 100 percent refund.
The line also states that passengers who refuse to comply with health and safety requirements, such as mask wearing, can be denied boarding.
One graphic outlines how the ship has improved its ventilation system, with a double-filtering system for incoming fresh ocean air.
Using the measuring system known as MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value), the line says the new filters are classified as MERV-13; the average home filter has a MERV value between 1 to 8. The first filter blocks larger particles, such as salt, while the second filter keeps out the smaller particles such as coronavirus, as well as cold and flu. MERV-13 filters capture aerosols from .3 to 1 micron in size, and they will be installed in all public rooms as well as cabins on the ship.
In the graphic, the line also notes that its rate of fresh air replacement is between 15 to 20 times an hour in its large public spaces, as opposed to what you find in public places on land such as grocery stores, hotel lobbies and movie theaters, where air recirculation is only done three to four times per hour. In the staterooms, the air replacement level is 12 times per hour, the graphic says.
The graphic specifically notes that the air on Quantum of the Seas "is never re-circulated between spaces."
Room Cleaning Changes
In its materials, Royal Caribbean calls its sanitation systems for room cleaning "medical grade." What that seems to mean is that the same type of disinfectants and detergents used in hospitals will also be used onboard.
Cabin cleanings by attendants will only be done when guests are out, although the line still promises "towel animal surprises." Room service will still be available, through "contact-less delivery." The Daily Planner has gone digital and will be accessed through your phone. The graphic also highlights Royal's new "e-muster" program, where you can watch the safety briefing in your room and check in on your own time.
Masks are required in the public spaces of the ship, and Royal Caribbean is providing complimentary ones in the cabin (although you don’t need to wear them there). Bandanas and neck gaiters are not shown on the list of permitted masks and if you wear a face shield, you also need a mask underneath.
Pool Deck Changes
One of the more interesting graphics shows a mock-up of the pool deck and what passengers might find there.
Pools will be limited to 50 percent capacity, while whirlpools will also be limited. Pool and deck chairs will be sanitized daily, and arranged to allow social distancing. Some pool tables will be blocked off, again to enforce distancing.
Masks seem to be required on the pool deck at all times, unless you are actually in the water. (Note: Sunbathing is not a very popular thing to do on Quantum's Asian sailings). The jogging track will have dedicated mask-less hours for people to go running.
Drinks will be ordered from your phone using QR codes. The line says there will be "no need to sign or deal with receipts for lower-cost transactions." Soft ice cream machines will be manned by crew members so no more self-serve.
On the Singapore sailings, masks must be worn for all outer deck activities except the FlowRider and when you're on a waterslide; the rules specifically state that they must be worn while waiting in line for these activities, as well as the flight simulator RipCord by iFly.
On the sports court, the line says that passengers can enjoy "instructor-led competitions and drills that give you new ways to exercise" while staying socially distanced.
The focus on sanitation remains high; the line says that dry slides and rides will be cleaned regularly, mini golf and ping pong equipment will be wiped after every use, and the rock climbing wall gear will be sanitized, as well as that used for the zip line.
Trips up in the North Star will be limited to four people, or five people in a group traveling together.
Indoor Spaces and Dining
All indoor spaces will be limited to 50 percent capacity, with certain tables and chairs blocked for social distancing. Elevators will have a limit of four people, although you can have more if it's a group traveling together. Hand sanitizer will be made available throughout the ship.
Your phone will let you know when it's your turn to be helped by guest services.
As on the pool deck, drinks and food will be ordered through QR codes on your phone. Again, lower cost transactions will not require a receipt. Face masks are required in dining rooms until you sit down to eat or drink. The crew will also be wearing face masks and gloves.
Buffets will be served by crew, as opposed to self-serve, and the line is also going to make more wrapped "grab-and-go" items available at the buffet and cafes. Reservations will be recommended at the Windjammer buffet, due to limited capacity, although the line says that "we will gladly accommodate walk-ins when availability permits."
Because of Singapore regulations, bars will stop serving alcohol at 10:30 p.m. and no live singing or dancing will be permitted. In its FAQ, the line said that "we will be reimagining the experience with other forms of entertainment for your enjoyment."
Upgraded Medical Facilities
The line has invested in its medical facilities, both to help catch COVID-19 early and to be able to deal with a more serious case, should someone get sick onboard.
The medical center has been redesigned into two distinct zones, including a controlled care unit for infectious diseases. Each zone will have its own entrance, critical care beds, restrooms and lab collection.
Each medical center will have at least two doctors, with training in acute and intensive medical care, as well as four registered nurses. Upgraded equipment onboard includes hospital-grade ventilators, a cardiac monitor, a central oxygen system, nebulizers, defibrillators and external pacemakers and EKGs.
The ship will also have equipment to administer therapeutic treatments, including antibiotics that require IVs; antiretroviral and oxygen therapy. A lab will now be able to run a large range of tests, with results provided onboard – including PCR rapid testing for COVID-19.
In its graphic, Royal Caribbean says that it will cover any COVID-19-related medical treatment onboard, as well as any required quarantine accommodation off the ship and travel home, up to $25,000 SGD (approximately $18,600 USD).