Carnival Follows Royal Caribbean In Key Post-Covid Change

Both cruise lines have followed different paths when it comes to fully getting back to the way things used to be.

Royal Caribbean Group and Carnival Cruise Lines both followed roughly the same path during the period when the cruise industry returned after its 15-month covid shutdown. The two companies worked with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to follow guidelines on masks, vaccines, social distancing, and quarantine procedures.

Those days are fortunately in the past with the CDC now offering the cruise industry suggestions rather than requirements. And, when it comes to the so-called covid rules, well those are all gone and most things on Royal Caribbean (RCL) – Get Free Report and Carnival (CCL) – Get Free Report ships have gone back to the way they were before the pandemic.

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Both cruise lines, however, have followed very different paths when it came to restoring onboard activities. Royal Caribbean, for example, was slow to bring back its adult game show “Crazy Quest,” and Carnival had staffing problems that caused it to cancel certain events as well as close some venues at least partially.

In addition, both Carnival and Royal Caribbean still have to take steps to keep their crew members free of covid. That’s a practical concern as well as a health one as even if crew members don’t get very sick, they can’t work if they test positive.

That has led to some lingering changes like Royal Caribbean’s “Meal With an Officer,” where top-tier loyalty members get to dine with an officer, has changed to “Cheers With an Officer.” The new format limits the length of contact between the crew members and the passengers.

Both cruise lines has also stopped their behind-the-scenes tours, which bring passengers into crew areas. Royal Caribbean, however, bought that popular added-fee tour in Sept. while Carnival has just shared its plans to finally do the same.

Image source: Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Brings Back Its Behind the Scenes Tour

Behind-the-scenes tours take passengers to places on cruise ships where they’re not normally allowed. That might mean a visit to the bridge or the engine room, or seeing what happens in one of the many kitchens onboard. But, no matter where Royal Caribbean or Carnival’s backstage (so to speak) tours go, they increase intermingling between crew and passengers.

That makes it easy to understand why these tours were some of the last prev-covid activities to be brought back and may explain why Carnival waited roughly six months longer than its key rival to bring its behind-the-scenes tour back.

Carnival plans to bring back the popular tours fleetwide on April 1. Some of the cruise line’s ships — Carnival Sunrise, Spirit, Luminosa, Valor, Dream, Vista, Panorama, and Celebration will act a little earlier starting up the tours on March 6. 

“The ‘Behind the Scenes’ program is designed to give guests the opportunity to explore beyond the public areas of Carnival’s ships and visit areas such as the ship’s bridge, engine control room, main galley, staff dining areas, storeroom, laundry, and others,” Cruise Industry News reported. “The tours may also include a look at crew living areas including the dining rooms, lounges, and quarters, which gives guests an insight into the full-time life onboard.”

Conducted in small groups, the behind-the-scenes tours may run more than once per sailing. Carnival charges between $55 and $95 per person while Royal Caribbean charges a similar price (it varies by ship and sailing).

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