Posts in procedures
The Worst Day on a Cruise. 🛳
Sail Away... Let's Dance! dance

Sail Away... Let's Dance! dance

There is something about cruising that engenders genuine excitement. Think kids at Christmas like! Your cruising friends start posting countdowns on Facebook and/or Twitter. There are a range of sites and apps which will do it for you. Why is cruising so exciting? I’d argue it’s because the moment you get on board, you are on vacation. From this aspect it’s different to any other holiday. Normally if you are going anywhere you have to fly ✈️ , and flying sucks 😞 !  Dealing with airport security 🚨 , immigration 👮 , leg space 💺, the monotony of sitting in an aluminium tube for hours on end, farting neighbours 💨, and very ordinary food 🥘 . Flying - no thanks!! It’s only benefit, it makes getting to where you are vacationing quickly 🛫 🛬. 

But cruising 🛳 is different. Yes, you have the security and immigration, but the moment you set foot on board your holiday has begun 😊 . The bars are open 🍻 🍷 , there is entertainment 🎶 💃, the buffet 🍴 is in full swing. And there’s the ship 🚢 to explore 😎!! A week or more (I do not understand short cruises) of no work, cooking, cleaning. Have you checked-in to the ship? Sure, but more importantly, you have checked-out of reality.

Normally in the late afternoon, early evening the ship will then make it’s way from port, and you get to enjoy the sail away! Take in the views, with a drink 🍸, party 🎊. That evening when you head to bed, your stateroom attendant will prepared your room for the evening, and on your bed is the ships newsletter, The Cruise Compass, with all the information of what and where tomorrows events and activities are happening on the ship. 

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You will probably also come face to face with a towel creature. These delightful little art forms are a cruising staple. With monkey’s 🐒 , bats🦇 , elephants 🐘 , dogs 🐕 , and many more, carefully constructed and placed on your bed 🛏  welcoming you to your room for the night. (On a personal note, I now instruct my stateroom attendant not to bother with the creatures. My room just gets filled up with towel animals, it takes the attendants time, and creates extra laundry, and after 200 nights on board, I am pretty sure I have seen almost every variety of them at this time. But they are one of cruising little pleasures, so no judgement by me if you enjoy them). 

In addition to your towel critters, you may come back to your room to find chocolates, fruit, wine, certificates, tickets, or any other manner of things which are all designed to enhance your experience. Yes, it may just be a flyer for the spa, or a certificate to use in the casino. But they are all in aid of the cruise. But little do you suspect that lurking somewhere on the ship is your departure survey, and at some stage this nasty reminder that reality does exist will find its way to your room. It is included in the other paraphernalia on your bed. But departure is still many days away, and after you fill in the survey, this little break in reality continues.

And yet, the magic bubble just feels a little diminished, a little less sparkly for the intrusion into your reality free zone. Little do you suspect at this time, that the real threat to your cruise is just around the corner.

And then with 2-3 nights left you come back to your room to this...

😭 Departure Luggage Tag Day, it sucks!

😭 Departure Luggage Tag Day, it sucks!

And bubble the bursts. Reality is imminent. The departure forms, instructions and luggage tags. There is even a shift in the atmosphere on board. People who you may have only met in the elevator, with some passing joke on its stopping at every level, or the mystical express ride, the little old lady you have been talking to in the buffet almost every day, yet still don’t know her name, and the pool bar fly you discuss the sea conditions with, the countdown to probably never meeting again has begun. Farewells are on the tip of your tongue, for you don’t know when it is the last meeting. 

With the magic cruise bubble burst, your vacation is almost over. At least when you are flying, the vacation bursts at the airport. 

There is one exception - when you just can't wait to get off the ship. For whatever reason it is, a plethora of bad guests (there needs to be a collective noun for these people, I nominate “a killjoy”), a GI outbreak, or perhaps you just haven’t enjoyed it; these departure luggage tag days may just be the sweet relief you desire. 

What’s your worse day on the cruise? Has departure luggage tag day ever give you sweet relief?

Sanitation Levels - What are they?

Yes yes, another post about the gastro outbreak on the Ovation . But this time I have some answers. This answers here are from the Ovation, so like all things Royal Caribbean, may or may not be applicable fleet wide. 

And hopefully after this, I can drop the subject and move onto more adventurous things; things like the Ultmate Dining Package (wooooooh!) 😱.

So sanitation levels (I still like BioSec more) can be set at Levels 1 through 3, with 3 being the strictest.  

Level 1

This is the default setting where the ship normally operates at. Staff are required to wipe down and clean surfaces a set number per shift. If you have been on a cruise, you have experienced this. And I’ll give Royal Caribbean this, I have never thought of their ships as dirty.   You can have fruit 🍋 garnishes in your drinks  

Level 2

Photo by Talaj/iStock / Getty Images

As a passenger you shouldn’t really notice much difference. Everything is open, you have all the access that you had at Level 1. The biggest difference is to the staff. They have to wipe down and clean all surfaces around 2x more frequently per shift.  Your very clean ship, gets cleaner.  The only thing I have noticed between 1 and 2 was that the barman swung by every 15 minutes to wipe down the bar and ordered drinks up off the bar to accomplish this. I maybe imagining this but at Level 1 I think they just wipe around your drinks 🍹.

You can still have fruit 🍈 garnishes in your drinks. 😊 

But there is no soft serve ice cream! 😱

Level 3

This is where things get real, and as a guest you will notice it. Many entrances are closed off, and guests are funnelled through choke points for “Washy Washy!”. For the staff, it’s basically non stop cleaning.  I noticed that even my hung up to “please don’t wash!” towel was getting taken away and fresh towels were issued every day.  And there’s no fruit 🍋 🍒 🍍 for your cocktails (and my soda water 🤯)

I also learnt that taking food back to your room is discouraged across all levels.  They won’t stop you at the lower levels but at 3. 🚨. 

Change of Level

So the big question is when does the level change! Royal Caribbean weren't to forthcoming with this information. Basically an increase in level is designed to contain the spread of infections. If they start seeing an infection spreading, up goes the level. If there is no increase in infection within a certain time, down goes the level. 

Currently on board Ovation of the Seas we are at Level 2. We have been that way for the past few days, but for most of the cruise we were at Level 3. Apparently for the next cruise the rough plan is to run at Level 2 for a couple to few days and see how the passengers are travelling. No new cases. We go to level 1. And we get soft serve icecream 🍦.

Questions? contact me below in the comments, or twitter or email.

 

 

 

BioSec - What happens when your ship has a GI outbreak?
Photo by joruba/iStock / Getty Images

Anyone following along at home, or on the train or at work or where ever else you may read this blog may have seen my post or in the main stream media that Ovation of the Seas recently had an outbreak of norovirus. The ship now is full of rumours of the exact numbers infected anywhere from 200-600 passengers where struck down with it. I have met a few from that cruise who were unaffected by the virus, but the outbreak definitely had its impact on the start of this cruise.

For the first 5 days we were at BioSec Level 3 (the BioSec is my name, I haven't heard anyone on the ship declare it that, but I did hear multiple times, we were at "level 3").

So just what is BioSec Level 3? That is a question I have been trying to find the answer to, but the internet has failed me! What I can tell you is what I observed. 

  • All restaurants and places for consuming food were patrolled by staff. Not just those who work in food, but anybody who has a customer facing job seemed to be conscripted in at times. Their job quite simply, prohibit food from leaving the venue, and ensure everybody who entered had washed, or applied Purell to their hands. 
  • Diamond Lounge guests were instantly sent to the sink to wash their hands.
  • Shops and most venues had restricted access to them, ie doors were locked, or roped off, sending all guests in via a control point, where again, Purell, could be applied. 
  • And personally the biggest blow! No fruit garnishes! All fruit 🍋 was removed from bars leaving me with plain soda water 😢. And other guests with less that exciting cocktails. And no one could do a tequila shot! 🤯

These were the things I noticed, there could well have been (probably was) other protocols in effect. Yesterday we dropped to Level 2, personally I haven't noticed too much difference between 2 and (what I am assuming is the default level) 1. But again, there are more than likely protocols that are running that I know nothing about. At level 2, entrances were made available, and staff were not on duty all the time to see that hands were washed/or purelled (that's right, I just made it a verb).

If you have the inside information on what the different BioSec (Sanitation) levels are, I would love to know, email me (in confidence on request).

What happens when you do back to back cruises?
Interior Room with VR Balcony

So you have chosen to do a back to back (B2B) or as Royal Caribbean will call you, be a consecutive cruiser. 🤩 More cruising!

So how does back to back cruising work? I have now done 4 back to back cruises, so my experience compared to some is quite limited. But for now the procedures have been pretty much the same across two ships, Serenade and the Explorer

At some stage during your first cruise, you will receive a letter outlining the procedures for consecutive cruisers, you will also be invited to a meeting (so far that has always been in the Star Lounge), where you will be basically be told exactly the same information that is in the letter. However this is a good time to ask any questions you might have, and discuss the process with various department heads. You will also have a chance to modify your dining time, or just confirm it.

On arrival in your first cruise final port, you will head down to the Star Lounge and assemble wth other B2B guests. Pastries, muffins, tea and coffee are provided. You will then receive your new sea pass card. At some stage you will file out of the Star Lounge and "disembark" the ship (on 3 of 4 cruises, this has just meant returning to the Star Lounge, in Sydney we actually did have to disembark). 

If you wish to disembark and visit the port you can do so, but you will not be permitted to re board until the designated time. Fortunately you will be give an in transit card and you can skip most of the queue to get back on the ship. 

One huge advantage the B2B cruisers have is early access to their rooms, even if you are changing rooms. You are encouraged to keep coming and going to a minimum during the "lockout" period.  Another benefit, you don't have to complete check-in, print luggage tags or the set sail documents. 

If you are moving rooms, your stateroom attendant will brief your new attendant (I even had my preferred pillow transferred to my new room, at the attendants initiative). Bags should be packed, left and left in your room, clothes hanging in the closet will be moved for you. 

Of course this has only been the procedure on 2 ships, and if I have learnt anything about sailing with Royal Caribbean, different ships sometimes have different procedures.

Let me know if you have any questions.

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