Royal Caribbean will launch cruises from Barbados for the first time
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
That’d be one way to read the Miami-based cruise giant’s announcement Wednesday that it soon would launch its first-ever sailings to the Caribbean out of Bridgetown, Barbados.
Unlike Caribbean sailings out of such traditional Royal Caribbean hubs as PortMiami and Port Canaveral in Florida, Caribbean cruises out of Barbados are not subject to U.S. regulation, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) current, coronavirus-related ban on cruises.
Only cruises that touch U.S. waters are subject to such regulation.
For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s new cruise newsletter
Still, Royal Caribbean on Wednesday told TPG the CDC ban on cruising from U.S. ports had nothing to do with its decision to begin running some of its Caribbean cruises out of Barbados.
When asked if the CDC’s current rules were a factor in the decision to move a ship to Barbados, a spokeswoman gave a straightforward, one-word answer: “No.”
The CDC has blocked Royal Caribbean and all other lines that operate ships that carry more than 250 people from operating cruises out of U.S. ports since March.
In a statement accompanying the line’s announcement on Wednesday, Royal Caribbean president and CEO Michael Bayley said the deployment was about offering its customers a new range of itineraries that it hadn’t offered before.
“Sailing from the heart of the Windward Islands unlocks new memorable vacations to share with family and friends in breathtaking places, such as Grenada, St. Lucia and now St. Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago,” Bayley said. “The pink-sand beaches and unexpected adventures across Barbados also make it an ideal destination for our guests to experience even more of the Caribbean charm and culture before or after their cruise.”
The new sailings out of Barbados will take place on Royal Caribbean’s 2,446-passenger Grandeur of the Seas, and start on Dec. 5.
The line plans three distinct itineraries out of Barbados, all departing on Sundays:
- A seven-night “Southern Caribbean Explorer” itinerary with stops at Scarborough, Tobago; Port of Spain, Trinidad; St. George’s, Grenada; Kingstown, St. Vincent; Roseau, Dominica; and Castries, St. Lucia.
- A seven-night “Southern Caribbean Adventure” itinerary with stops at St. George’s, Grenada; Kralendijk, Bonaire; Oranjestad, Aruba; Willemstad, Curaçao; and Port of Spain, Trinidad.
- A 14-night “Ultimate Caribbean” itinerary with stops at St. George’s, Grenada; Kingstown, St. Vincent; Kralendijk, Bonaire; Oranjestad, Aruba (for an overnight); Willemstad, Curaçao; Port of Spain, Trinidad; Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; and Puerto Limon, Costa Rica.
The stops in Tobago, Trinidad and St. Vincent are firsts for the line.
Until the cruise industry began halting operations last March due to the escalating coronavirus pandemic, the ship that’s heading to Barbados — Grandeur of the Seas — was based in Baltimore, Maryland.
Royal Caribbean — and the rest of the cruise industry — is grappling with a road map for a return to cruising in U.S. waters issued by the CDC that lays out a long period of testing and approvals before cruising can resume.
Issued in October as a “framework for conditional sailing” order, the road map includes a testing period for new anti-coronavirus protocols on ships that has yet to begin and may not begin for some time. After that, cruise operators can apply for what the CDC is calling a Conditional Sailing Certificate in a process that could take an additional 60 days.
Assuming the CDC sticks to the guidelines it has laid out in the order, it could be many months before cruising is allowed out of U.S. ports.
Barbados traditionally has served as a home port for very small vessels such as those operated by small-ship lines SeaDream Yacht Club and Star Clippers. But it does draw a few bigger ships that use it both as a home port and as a transit port.
Royal Caribbean ships have visited Barbados in the past in the midst of a cruise, but have never been based in the country.
As a foreign country not subject to the jurisdiction of the CDC, Barbados can host cruise ships wanting to restart operations this year even if the CDC maintains its ban on sailings.
Indeed, in November, Barbados welcomed the first cruise ship to attempt to restart operations in the Caribbean since the cruising shutdown began in March — a 112-passenger SeaDream Yacht Club vessel called SeaDream 1. But the sailing, notably, did not go well. It ended with a COVID-19 outbreak and passengers quarantined in their cabins. The line subsequently canceled all remaining cruises for the winter season
Royal Caribbean is the world’s biggest cruise line by passenger capacity, and it accounts for nearly 20% of all cruises taken worldwide. It often serves as a bellwether for the industry.
Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:
- The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
- The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
- A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
- 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
- 15 ways cruisers waste money
- 12 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
- What to pack for your first cruise
Featured image courtesy of Royal Caribbean
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees