July 2nd 2021, was a huge day for cruising! Freedom of the Seas became the first Royal Caribbean ship to sail out of a U.S. port in over 14 months. To say we are thrilled for the restart of cruising is an understatement. We are jumping for joy! Plus, one of our very own advisors was aboard this monumental sailing!

Our fabulous advisor, Lya, boarded Freedom of the Seas as a diamond member with Royal Caribbean. She is a #CruiseExpert and was ecstatic to sail once again. And, did she have the most fantastic experience!  

She just arrived back yesterday, so we were able to talk with her about her experience aboard Freedom of the Seas. Lya updated us with a ton of new protocols and experiences she had. “With such low capacity, you had the run of the ship. We did the waterslides, which we have never done! I almost did the Flowrider too!” 

She found the service to be outstanding. “The crew was so overjoyed to see you. You couldn’t turn a corner without the crew saying Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I felt like a VIP walking into the Windjammer. The {crew} was ready and waiting! They started clapping and yelling as we entered. They were so happy!”

Unlike previous cruises, arriving early to the port no longer gives you a chance to board early. Royal Caribbean will provide you with an arrival time. If you get there early, they will tell you you can’t enter the port. You stay outside and have to wait. They are very strict on the arrival time as they do not want guests congregating. Lya arrived at her assigned boarding time and found the process smooth and fast. She was on board within 15-20 minutes! 

Royal Caribbean is sailing with a mix of both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests. Upon boarding, vaccinated guests are provided with a purple bracelet to wear designating they are vaccinated. On these first sailings, everyone is masking in public areas – vaccinated & unvaccinated alike. In the dining rooms, once you are seated and in outside areas – no masks are required. There were also certain designated areas throughout the ship for those guests who were fully vaccinated, in which masks are not required. On this sailing, unvaccinated guests could not go to the Casino or Spa. They chose those locations for vaccinated guests only since they had so few unvaccinated guests in total, and most of them were children. That was a call by Royal Caribbean for this first set of sailings.  

One of the ports of call for this sailing was Perfect Day at CocoCay. “While the occupancy is low, CocoCay was much less crowded. It is a great time to go on a short cruise and take advantage. At one point in the day, we were sitting on Chill Island, and we were one of eight people on the beach. It felt like I was on my own little private island all by myself!”

Lya was at CocoCay on July 4th, in which Royal Caribbean made sure to celebrate with guests and crew! “They had fireworks at CocoCay and brought in some of the other ships, as well. I got a little bit emotional. It just feels so good that things seem like they are getting back. The ships with a crew that have been out at sea just waiting to restart came close to CocoCay (about 4 or 5 ships). Everyone watched the fireworks. And when it was over, all the ships were blowing their horns. It was so awesome!”

Video of fireworks

As sailings continue and more discussions happen with CDC – we will see the July and August protocols evolve as we enter Fall sailings. But, CRUISING IS BACK, and we can’t be more excited!  A huge shoutout to Lya Chowning for sharing her experience.  Please reach out to your Ears of Experience advisor for more information on cruising in this era. If you do not have an Ears of Experience advisor, please contact us at info@thecuratedtravelcollection.com.