Royal Caribbean is hoping it can avoid further losses at the hands of COVID-19. In an effort to ensure masks are worn at all times on its ships, the company is implementing a no-smoking policy on its casino floors for all of its vessels. The new rule will come into effect in January.
The Smoking Lamp is Out
Royal Caribbean now bans smoking in its casinos following the introduction of many restrictions, including the wearing of masks onboard ships. The ban takes effect starting January 5 of next year and is a result of concern about COVID-19 and outbreaks of the Omicron variant spreading throughout the ship.
The cruise line implemented a mask policy to combat a potential COVID-19 problem, and the smoking ban was a direct result. The cruise line explains on its website, “For cruises departing on or before January 5, 2022, smoking is not permitted in the casino due to the recently modified policy that now required face covers at vaccinated-only venues. We will be continually re-evaluating this policy to modify or extend according to the latest public health information.”
Since the beginning, the cruise line has had one smoking area and one non-smoking area. Smokers will have to smoke onboard, on one of their open decks. While the fleetwide policy will not be in effect until January 5, some ships have already started to implement it. Other cruise lines, like Carnival Cruise Line, are introducing similar policies.
The new policy shouldn’t impact gaming revenue too much. Based on land-based casino studies, smoking bans don’t result in a significant loss in action.
Other Changes Could Deter Cruise Travel
Royal Caribbean has made other changes to its policies. Now, the cruise line also said that they will no longer be able to offer guests an antigen test for re-entry into their home country. These tests will be performed when guests debark the ship.
This can cause problems for passengers who have booked flights right after disembarking. Although the cruise line doesn’t think so, it offers several alternatives to guests who have booked flights directly after disembarking.
It has become apparent that the Omicron variant has emerged as a serious concern for cruise lines in the past weeks. It is spreading more quickly than any previous variants, and this is a good thing.
In 2019, there were over 29.7 million cruise passengers across all operations, according to Statista. Last year, with COVID-19 becoming a major threat, that figure plummeted. It only reached 5.8 million. If another global outbreak were to surface, the cruise ship industry will once again find it in a very difficult position.