Royal Caribbean Seeks Volunteer Passengers, Norwegian Cruise Cancels Until 2021

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a cruise isn't just a cruise. Royal Caribbean and other companies are looking for volunteers to test the waters.

Rachel Curry - Author

Nov. 9 2020, Updated 9:20 a.m. ET

The CDC issued a conditional sailing order for cruise lines on Oct. 30, which gives companies the go-ahead to slowly start testing the waters. In response, Royal Caribbean is looking for volunteer passengers to help them determine if their safety protocols are up to par.

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Royal Caribbean is testing the waters with trial cruises

Consumers have been wondering when cruises will resume for months. Even the conditional sailing order will take time to implement. Cruise lines will need to find ways to adapt to strict CDC guidelines.

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For Royal Caribbean, the first step toward resuming normal activities is to hold mock voyages. Using volunteer passengers, the trial is a way for the company to figure out the logistics before actually setting sail. Whether or not the voyages actually head off to sea is another question.

Historically, cruises have been super spreaders for diseases. For example, on Holland America's Zaandam ship, 179 people developed flu-like symptoms, nine people tested positive for COVID-19, and two people died.

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More cruise lines are looking for volunteers

Royal Caribbean isn't the only cruise line seeking volunteers. Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and MSC Cruises are also planning test cruises. These companies may end up using their own crew instead of external volunteers.

Whatever the protocol, volunteers have raised their hands in large numbers in hopes of being selected for a mock voyage.

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How to volunteer for a Royal Caribbean cruise

Royal Caribbean still doesn't know how they are going to recruit or select people for the mock voyages. However, they do have some standards in place. All of the volunteers must be over 18 with no pre-existing health conditions.

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Cruise ship operators must ensure that all simulations are consensual and include a monitored observation period before the simulation begins.

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Royal Caribbean stock price today

Royal Caribbean Cruises ("RCL" on the NYSE) closed on Nov. 6 at $58.58 per share. The stock has risen 6.49 percent in the last week and fractionally made up for lost capital. Year-to-date, Royal Caribbean stock has fallen by 56.50 percent. On Oct. 30, the company announced its third-quarter earnings, which included a $1.3 billion net loss—compared to last year's $883 million net income.

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Norwegian Cruise was the first to cancel sailing until 2021

SeaDream, a small cruise line, became the first to set sail to the Caribbean on Nov. 7 since the COVID-19 pandemic started. In contrast, Norwegian Cruise Line made the decision to cancel all of its cruises through the rest of 2020. Perhaps in response to the 40-page conditional sailing order from the CDC, Norwegian hopes to focus its efforts elsewhere.

Norwegian Cruise Line stock today

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings closed on Nov. 6 at $16.97 per share. A 5.53 percent increase over the previous week helped bolster the stock, which goes by the ticker symbol "NCLH" on the NYSE. After a steep drop in late October, Norwegian Cruise stock has fallen 71.15 percent YTD.


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