What it’s like to cruise with Royal Caribbean’s stricter mask rules
As the Omicron variant began to generate a higher number of cases on cruise ships, Royal Caribbean enacted stricter rules regarding face masks on its ships.
The new rules require all passengers to wear their masks indoors, even in vaccinated areas, and the question to what extent these new rules have impacted the cruising experience has started to arise.
I sailed Navigator of the Seas about a week after the stricter mask rules came into effect and wanted to share my experience with these new protocols for anyone heading out on a cruise soon.
Keep in mind that my experience is not indicative of what your experience will or will not be. I hope this will give you some insight into what the written policy really means in practical terms.
What is the strictest mask rule?
On December 17, 2021, Royal Caribbean announced that passengers on all crossings through January 5, 2022 will be required to wear masks indoors at all times, unless actively eating or drinking.
Prior to this change, fully vaccinated passengers could travel to designated areas without a mask.
This policy is in place for all crossings departing before January 5, 2022, at which time it will be reassessed.
It is not mandatory to wear masks outside, in the pool, in your cabin or at Perfect Day at CocoCay.
My experience with the new rules
When Royal Caribbean announced the new rule, it seemed like you had to wear your mask indoors at all times, and maybe even between bites or sips of food.
In practice, the rule has not been so restrictive.
Both on my journeys and others reported by readers of RoyalCaribbeanBlog since the new rule took effect, it appears that the rule changed two fundamental things that were happening on board:
- Eliminate the loophole of someone walking around with a drink as a way of not wearing their mask
- Enter a vaccinated area and remove your mask without eating or drinking
As more crew members remind passengers to put on or pull on their masks, they are not patrolling the hallways looking for mask compliance. I believe there is a renewed emphasis on making sure masks are worn indoors, but not to the point that it’s overbearing.
My experience on Navigator was that if you are sitting in a bar, restaurant or lounge, as long as there was food or drink in front of you, you were fine without a mask and you weren’t asked to put on the mask. between bites or sips.
During my seven nights on board, I spent a lot of time in the Main Dining Room, Pub, Schooner Bar and Casino. In all scenarios, masks were required upon entry, but as soon as I sat down with food or drink, there was no issue with my mask down.
My observation was that almost all of the other passengers obeyed the mask rules inside. Much like airports, supermarkets, and schools, sometimes you would find someone not wearing their mask, but this was extremely rare and I guess a crew member would remind them to put it on.
The problem with masks under someone’s nose seems to be a bigger problem than cruise lines can fix, but I have observed some crew members asking passengers to fix their masks, especially in the casino. .
Not only were the guests wearing their masks well indoors, but I noticed that many passengers were wearing their masks outside. Admittedly, the low humidity and cooler temperatures of a December cruise on the west coast make wearing a mask outside much more tolerable than if it were in June.
In summary, I thought the new rule was not that different from what it was before, especially in bars or restaurants for eating or drinking.
Speaking of the casino, another change made by Royal Caribbean has been to ban smoking in the casino.
Previously, the casino was designated a vaccine area and you could remove your mask. In order to keep the masks on, it was forbidden to smoke in the casino.
As a non-smoker I certainly welcomed the change and seated at a table or slot machine masks were worn.
Unlike bars or restaurants, I put on my mask between sips of a cocktail, especially at table games where passengers and the croupier were close to each other.
My experience is going to vary from others, so I wanted to share some other comments from people who have been sailing in the past two weeks.
Neesa summed up his thoughts on the new rule by thinking of the big picture: “It’s a lesson in humility on board, I interact with the staff and I feel obligated to comply because I want them to comply. feel comfortable they are important and looking into their eyes i can agree i do it for them. I respect them and the work they do.
Flowrider was also on Navigator of the Seas and shared their observations on the mask rules, “I just got off the navigator. The mask was inside all the time, not outside. When we were lining up to be served at Johnny Rockets or El Loco Fresh they asked us to put it on. No mask required at the pool. “
“Once we got off the ship in Mazatlan / Cabo / Puerto Vallarta, we took off the masks. No one ever asked us to put on the mask except for the obvious interior adjustments i.e. in a shop / store. “
“MDR or Windjammer, you wear it like before. Sitting at table, mask is off. Walk around until buffet mask is on.”
tonyfsu21 sailed on Oasis of the Seas last week, “the masks inside the ship. You can remove them while eating and drinking in restaurants and bars. You do NOT need to wear a mask at the outdoors on the pool deck and other areas. Outdoors in ports (no mask) inside the vehicle en route to an excursion, you must be masked. “
Tonyfsu21 also spoke about his experience at the casino: “I played the machines all night with a beer in my hand and a mask down. Between two beers while walking in the casino, I had my mask. the same thing. At the end of the day there is no police and it’s not like a prison, it’s a vacation and the staff know it. “
ChessE4 expressed support for the new change: “With the explosion of COVID cases in Florida, I can see why masks would be needed on cruise ships and elsewhere. Things will get better, but we need to take note of our current situation. “