Royal Caribbean International Crew Allowed Shore Leave in U.S. Ports

Nov 26, 2021

Royal Caribbean International started the “Crew free flow pilot program” allowing independent shore leave for employees on five cruise ships sailing to U.S. ports. The pilot program started last week with 50 crewmembers, from each ship, being granted shore leave on the Anthem of the Seas in Cape Liberty - Bayonne, Liberty of the Seas in Galveston, Allure of the Seas in Fort Lauderdale, Independence of the Seas in Port Canaveral, and Oasis of the Seas in Miami.

This 3-week pilot program will see a gradual increase in the number of crew allowed shore leave in U.S. homeports. There is a sign-up process onboard, and to make it fair crew from each department will have a chance to go out. While ashore, the crew must follow strict health and safety rules. The exciting news was reported by "The Curious Lens of Martina from Argentina" on her YouTube Channel, saying that this week 75 crewmembers will be permitted to visit US ports and then 100. If the program turns out to be successful, hopefully, Royal Caribbean will extend it to other ships arriving at U.S. ports.

Crew members on some Royal Caribbean ships are also allowed to go out in ports with guest tours. This option is available as an award for the crew with most comments in guests' comment cards. The company also organizes crew tours, at a reasonable price, which are bubble shore excursions allowing them to visit the beach or organized shopping tours. The crew is also allowed to go out at the Royal Caribbeans private island CocoCay.

Back in July 2021, Carnival was the first cruise line to announce independent shore leave for crew in U.S. homeports and the Caribbean ports-of-call.

“We are happy to be able to offer these experiences to bring your life and work at sea closer to normal - in healthy safe ways” Carnival said in a letter sent to the crew.

And while the number of cruise companies granting shore leave increases, some still have restrictions for the crew. In the past few weeks, we have received several letters from Norwegian Cruise Line voicing their right to go out in ports, just like their shipmates on other cruise lines. Crew on two NCL ships in operation said that they have largely not been allowed to leave the ships.

“We just want to say, that COVID PANDEMIC, doesn’t check if you are a guest or a crew member. We are all humans and we need to be treated the same, that means freedom to access on land after we have spent months onboard.” Said one NCL crew member.

The lates message Crew Center received was from Silversea crew member who said. “I was on the Silver Moon when the ship started cruises in Greece. It's an unfortunate situation seeing crew from Celebrity Cruises going out on shore leaves while the crew from Silver Moon was watch over.”

Crew Center is calling for crew members to be heard by the cruise lines in healthy open discussion for the purpose of determining mutually agreeable solutions related to the COVID restrictions, without fear of losing their employment.