This month I returned to cruise ships as a guest entertainer after two years of the pandemic. If you haven't yet returned to sea and were curious about some of the changes, you're not alone.
In this post, I'll cover the three most significant changes I noticed cruising after the pandemic and a few observations from someone with over a decade at sea and hundreds of cruises under my belt.
Come on board the Celebrity Constellation with me in Tampa, Florida, and explore! You can also find my current schedule for the first half of 2023.
Changes To Cruising After the Pandemic
I left Toronto Pearson and flew into Tampa the day before to board the Celebrity Constellation. If you've never sailed on this Celebrity ship, the Constellation is part of the Infinity class and the smallest in the fleet, with a capacity of 2170.*
It's the one ship in the Celebrity fleet I've spent the least time on, but one of the very first cruise ships I ever entertained. 😀 This cruise had 1400 passengers and sailed the western Caribbean during the American Thanksgiving week.
Let's look at the changes I noticed after the pandemic.
*Celebrity's smallest ship is the Celebrity Xpedition, with a capacity for only 48 passengers. It offers exclusive itineraries and a unique experience.
1. The Cruise Line App
During my last few contracts in 2019, Celebrity Cruises had just rolled out its new Celebrity app. You might wonder, "How could an app possibly make cruising better?" but I was very impressed to see several ways it enhances the cruising experience.
Not only does the app provide quick access to all the essentials, including destination itinerary, daily events, onboard charges, essential information and ship layout, but your phone can also become your room key.
The app provides many solutions with just a few clicks that would otherwise require a trip to Guest Relations. You can also purchase an internet package directly through the app, but no internet package is required to use the app.
The Celebrity Cruises app is available for both iPhones and Android devices.
For me, one noticeable advantage of the app was boarding the ship. Here's how:
2. Boarding the Ship
The app delivers a whole new level of convenience during the boarding process.
Guests are asked to download the app before boarding, and in the days leading up, the app sends push notifications with helpful information and the required health questionnaire.
How Does The App Help Boarding?
Boarding and disembarkation are naturally the least exciting experiences of any cruise. Navigating several thousand people with their luggage is difficult in any situation. 💼 The app helped minimize line-ups and crowding by requiring guests to schedule their boarding time slot through the app in advance.
The app also provided push notifications with information about what to expect. Even with hundreds of cruises, I found the reminders helpful and alleviated stress and potential confusion.
I can assume that disembarkation had these same changes, but I left mid-cruise, which is typical for us guest entertainers.
Boat Drill & Muster Stations
Before any ship can depart, it's mandatory to educate all guests about the safety measures in the case of an emergency. Before COVID, the boat drill required guests to assemble in their meeting locations, called muster stations indicated on their key cards. Once guests were assembled, they would watch a series of instructional procedures and a video.
This has been simplified-- the boat drill and safety demonstrations have changed.
Guests can now view the safety information and videos on their app or in their stateroom and then walk to the muster station to scan their card with the crew. This ensures everyone knows where their muster station is but reduces the large gatherings.
A welcome change for many cruisers. ⛴️
Not all the changes were as noticeable-- some were invisible.
3. Onboard Safety Measures
The ships and team have undergone new preventative and safety procedures that many guests won't even notice, including safety training and protocols. These include medical, cleaning, and sanitizing.
Some of the changes are completely invisible, like the air.
One of the most significant changes is that each ship has been upgraded to the latest HVAC air conditioning, described as medical grade. Here's an excerpt about the HVAC air upgrade from Celebrity Cruise's blog:
"This system is so technologically advanced that it makes the likelihood of transmission of aerosol particles between spaces extremely low. In fact, it’s virtually impossible."
- Celebrity Cruise Blog "Cruising After COVID: What’s Different?" https://www.celebritycruises.com/blog/cruising-after-covid
The system is so powerful that stateroom air is changed twelve times per hour, and the air is exchanged fifteen times per hour in public spaces.
And-- as always, there is an abundance of hand sanitizer everywhere.
A Few Observations
It's important to remember that every country has COVID requirements, and Celebrity Cruises and all guests onboard must abide by each country's rules.
The rules and regulations will likely change as we understand more about COVID and how to minimize transmission. Make sure to do the essential research to have a hassle-free cruise vacation.
Here are a few observations from my return to ships after the two-year pandemic break. To stay up-to-date with the latest policies, visit your cruise company's official website.
Guests sailing on Celebrity Cruises are not required to wear a mask.
I'd guess less than twenty percent of the guests wore masks on my cruise.
Health professionals encourage individuals with health vulnerabilities to wear masks, but it's not a requirement.
The crew and team are also not required to wear masks, although many still do, especially in the dining areas.
Mandatory vaccination within USA ports is no longer required, and guests are no longer required to present proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test upon embarkation.
Again, each country has its own rules and regulations-- guests without vaccination may be limited in experiences. For example, Canada and Bermuda require guests to show proof of vaccination and a valid passport.
Refer to your cruise line's official site for additional information about your itinerary, and do your research.
I felt safe and protected during my entire visit to the Celebrity Constellation. I've been on hundreds of cruises before the pandemic and was impressed with the ships' advancements over the past two years.
The most significant change was the technology and the Celebrity Cruise app, which helps improve both safety and convenience. The app made it effortless to get answers to many questions and tasks that typically require a trip to Guest Relations. It also provided essential information leading up to embarkation and debarkation and required no internet package to function.
On the app, guests have complete access to their account, safety procedures, deck map, dining room reservations, daily schedule, itinerary, and so much more. I was very impressed!
Further safety improvements include upgraded state-of-the-art HVAC air conditioning, sanitization, essential safety measures, and crew training. Masks were not required, and proof of vaccination was not required for USA ports but each country has their policies.
It's essential to keep up to date before your cruise by visiting their website for the latest information and downloading the app from the Google or Apple stores.
To read more about Celebrity Cruises, visit the Celebrity Cruises blog and their post-pandemic cruising blog post.
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Where To Find Me on Celebrity Cruises in 2023
I hope to see you at sea! Here's where you can find me on Celebrity Cruises in 2023:
Jan 12 - 26
Feb 2 - 13
Feb 23 - Mar 4
Mar 13 - Mar 22
Apr 1 - Apr 10
Apr 19 - Apr 28