Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas was one of the first ships to conduct a trial “cruise to nowhere” in Singapore. One of the first steps to a safe return to cruising, it had all the protocols I expected including social distancing, reduced capacity, and masks.
Related: What cruising will look like
Unfortunately, the test cruise on Quantum was cut short when an 83-year-old guest tested positive for Covid. News outlets everywhere ran with this information, again suggesting — falsely, in my opinion — that cruising isn’t safe even with all the safety protocols. What wasn’t reported was that subsequent tests for this passenger came back negative, there were no additional positive results for any guests or crew, and the safety protocols were executed flawlessly.
Interestingly, the guest (who tested negative before boarding) was tested for Covid after visiting the medical center onboard Quantum to be treated for diarrhea. The positive test began the procedures. The guest and his immediate traveling companions were isolated, leisure activities were canceled, and guests and crew were asked to stay in their room while contract tracing was carried out. Everyone on board was also retested as part of the protocols.
All along I’ve been thinking the cruise lines are putting together a system to create a safe bubble. As we gain information about how the virus spreads and behaves, I think it’s more likely that these protocols will be a part of the cruising experience in conjunction with vaccinations. I don’t think cruising is going to really begin until vaccinations are widely available and the majority of people have been vaccinated. But what this situation on Quantum proves to me is that once cruising does resume the “ramp up” to full service will be much quicker than what I believed originally.