Read this cautionary tale if you're travelling on Royal Caribbean Singapore anytime soon, or if you intend to.

Cruises to nowhere have been a big hit since the pandemic started, but should you choose to sail with Royal Caribbean (RCI) anytime soon, you may want to be prepared for the following scenarios to avoid disappointment.

1. Be prepared to be denied boarding, even if you're certified fit for travel.

In the past year, there have been multiple incidents of passengers in Singapore who were denied boarding at the port for the following reasons:

In some of those cases, the passenger(s) were able to produce medical documents showing that they were certified fit to travel, with some even having a negative PCR test result from the day prior - which has a 99% accuracy rate vs. the 82% of ART tests.

So what was the one thing these denied guests had in common?

See #3 below.

2. Do not expect a fair medical screening at the port.

Most of us would expect a certain level of professionalism when it comes to any screening conducted by a doctor.

But in Royal Caribbean's case, we've seen their doctor conclude for a sore throat based solely on a 98% oximeter reading and a 36.4C temperature. Except that this is not how you assess for a sore throat?

If you're hoping for a fair medical evaluation at the port, you may want to manage your expectations again. 

This was exactly what happened in our case, and even when we escalated it for investigation, RCI repeatedly avoided our questions as to how this could be medically accurate. For more background context, you can read my story here.

3. Be careful with what you answer on the Health Questionnaire.

The one thing that all of the above denied cases had in common was that they had answered a "yes" to one of the questions on the health questionnaire. 

24 hours before you board, you'll be asked to filled up a health questionnaire on the Royal Caribbean app which will look something like this:

Note how the language used is in past tense, meaning that even if you are currently well but have experienced any of the listed symptoms in the past 10 days, you're supposed to declare it in full honesty - whether or not your symptoms were due to COVID-19 or something else.

Except that once you do, you'll likely be denied boarding. I've raised this to RCI's executive management team (and that of other cases, aside from mine) too, but while RCI avoided this question when we asked, the Singapore Tourism Board has since confirmed it as RCI's policy:

The problem is, this is not being communicated online. Note how this is in stark contrast to what Royal Caribbean communicates instead:

So ultimately, it is up to you as to whose words you wish to believe.

Of course, while I don't advocate lying on your health questionnaire, there have been many incidents that show folks with a "yes" - regardless of the cause - were flatly denied. 

You seldom see me complain about stuff here on this blog unless there's a clear PSA statement to be made, which is why I've left my story out (you can read it on Instagram here if you're curious about the specific details). And in this case, as much as we were disappointed by the lack of professionalism we encountered with Royal Caribbean, subsequent conversations with readers showed that this has been ongoing for over a year, which isn't right. 

That's why I've chosen to make this public, because I think anyone who is sailing with them soon deserves to know in advance that this is how RCI operates.

That way, you'll know what to do to avoid having your holiday plans go up in smoke.

P.S. Royal Caribbean has denied to answer the following questions:
  • Is it Royal Caribbean Singapore's policy to not allow recovered patients (not from COVID19) to board? 
  • Is it Royal Caribbean's standard practice to deny passengers on medical grounds without a relevant medical evaluation, even if they are able to produce medical documents showing that they are certified fit to travel?
  • Is it true that all frontline healthcare workers are not welcome aboard your ships? 
Personally, I find their lack of response to be rather telling, but you can judge for yourself too.

Does that mean Jade Rasif will only be allowed to board if she quits her job as a healthcare worker?