Reservation schmesaration!

News Flash - Your reservation is almost meaningless. 

Photo by Oko_SwanOmurphy/iStock / Getty Images

If anything this year of cruising with Royal Caribbean has taught me, your reservation is almost meaningless . 

From shows, to dining, excursions, your room, ports of call, to even the whole cruise. Royal Caribbean can and will cancel your reservation for what ever operational reason they have at their disposal. They don’t do this out of vindictiveness or a desire to mess with their guests. I’m sure they would love to honour all reservations.

But things on board change. It could be weather related, infection control, lack of staffing, lack of supplies, or some other operational issue. 

What happens when something is cancelled? 

If you paid, your money will be fully refunded. (This is different to if you cancel, in that case they keep some of or all of the money 👋 💰. I’m not sure what the difference is 🤨, but there it is).

Sometime though the left and right hands don’t know what they are doing so a visit to Guest Services may be required to get the refund.  

In the case of cruises, RCI will offer some form of compensation (often a choice) that they deem somewhat appropriate. There is almost no arguing, discussion, emails, pleas, threats from lawyers or anything that will fix or change this. This is the situation. So deal with it. 

What can you do? 

I suggest a zen Buddhist approach.   Leaf 🍃 on the river. You can get angry 😡, rant and rave, 🤯 and all you are doing is risking heart attack and at best getting apologies 🙏🏽.    

Photo by dam_point/iStock / Getty Images

I know it’s infuriating. But there's a 99.99999% that the poor person you are talking to is not responsible. Walk away, breath, reassess and find the positives in the cancellation. Money saved, sunset can be seen now. Less solar damage to your skin, whatever it is. Just know that you will likely experience a cancellation, or 2, or a dozen with Royal Caribbean (Personally I’m at 4 various cancellations in 6 months, and I'm fairly concerned that I will have another whole cruise cancellation or 2 over the next 12 months). 

Ultimately you will have 2 choices. Keep cruising with Royal and, when they are thrown, roll with the punches. Or quit Royal and find another cruise line. (Not that I know if they are any better or worse).   

faq, q&aChrisreservations, zen, procedures
FAQ - What do I do onboard?
 Explorer Seattle - Seattle 2017 Champions

Explorer Seattle - Seattle 2017 Champions

One of the most common questions I get from those who I meet is, "What do you do all day?" I have a few answers for that, but one of my favourite things to do onboard is trivia. Basically Royal Caribbean is a non stop triviathon. 

And then they have the big trivia competition. The Progressive Trivia. The big glorious trivia competition where the prizes are next to meaningless trinkets and if you are lucky terrible champagne. 

 Opening 2017/18 Australian Season Champions on board Ovation of the Seas

Opening 2017/18 Australian Season Champions on board Ovation of the Seas

Honestly I don't know if the prizes are worth the heartache. Actually let's be honest, they aren't. But winning progressive trivia has let me meet some fabulous folk, (and I will not insert anything saying that is a pretty sweet prize because that would just be corny and 🤮). But I have enjoyed meeting and playing with these guys and gals. 

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).