What’s worse than a cruise to nowhere? A ship with 21 dining venues you can’t eat in

May 19, 2021

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Call it the most bizarre cruise ever.

Passengers on the only Royal Caribbean ship currently sailing — the giant, 4,180-passenger Quantum of the Seas — haven’t been allowed to eat in any of the ship’s 21 food venues this week. Nor have they been allowed to drink at any of its many bars.

They still can go to a show. But only in very small numbers. Only 50 passengers at a time can go to performances in the vessel’s Royal Theater, for instance. It normally holds 1,394 people. Ditto for events in the ship’s Music Hall, which normally can hold up to 450 people.

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The new restrictions, implemented on Monday, are in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases in Singapore, where the ship has been based since December.

The surge prompted Singapore to implement a “Phase 2” alert on Sunday that brought an end to dining in restaurants across the city-state and also restricted social gathering. The new rules have, in turn, been applied to cruise ships that sail out of Singapore.

The new rules will remain in effect through at least June 13.

Even before this week’s new restrictions, the new coronavirus-era sailings that Royal Caribbean had been offering on Quantum of the Seas out of Singapore had been unusual. Due to Singapore-imposed rules, the voyages had been “cruises to nowhere” — that is, they didn’t include a single port call. The vessel just sailed out from Singapore and circled around in the water for a few days before returning.

Now, not only do passengers not get to visit any ports, but they also can’t eat in dining rooms or drink in ship bars, either.

In lieu of dining in restaurants, passengers on Quantum of the Seas are being asked to eat meals in their cabins. As can be seen in social media posts, they must place orders in advance for dishes from a menu, and the dishes are then delivered to their rooms on trays.

Some food venues also offer limited grab-and-go “takeout” options during the day, but the food must be taken back to cabins to consume. Passengers currently on the sailing have posted on social media that no food or drink can be consumed outside of cabins.

While many of Quantum of the Seas’ activities remain open, including its iconic North Star sky ride and bumper car pavilion, there also are more restrictive limits on the number of people that can be in any activity area at once.

Passengers also must now wear masks when lounging by pools. In the ship’s glass-enclosed Solarium pool area, masks are required even when in the water.

Photos of the ship’s pool areas posted on social media Wednesday show signs at hot tubs restricting them to just two occupants at a time, both of whom must be from the same traveling party.

In addition, the ship appears to be a bit of a ghost town. As part of its response to Singapore’s new Phase 2 rules, Royal Caribbean has restricted the total number of passengers allowed on the ship to just 25% of its normal capacity. But passengers on the ship report there only are about 500 people on board — about 10% of what the ship can hold with every berth filled.

The line says the restrictions are temporary and will be removed once the government of Singapore lifts its Phase 2 alert.

The new restrictions come as Royal Caribbean — the world’s largest cruise line — struggles to restart operations in several parts of the world due to rising COVID-19 cases and also unrelated incidents. Royal Caribbean in recent days canceled sailings on two ships scheduled to begin voyages later this month out of Chinese ports, and it also recently canceled sailings on one ship scheduled to begin out of Haifa, Israel.

In the latter case, the cancellations were due to the recent unrest in the region.

Royal Caribbean still plans to restart cruising in North America in June with sailings out of Nassau in the Bahamas and sailings out of Bermuda. It also plans sailings out of Limassol, Cyprus, starting in July.

Royal Caribbean resumed sailings out of Singapore in December. At the time, it was one of the few places in the world that had almost completely eliminated COVID-19.

A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean did not respond to questions about the new restrictions on Quantum of the Seas.

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Featured image of courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

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