Cruise NewsWhat It Was Like Cruising on the Last Cruise Ship to Leave...

What It Was Like Cruising on the Last Cruise Ship to Leave Miami

When I booked my last minute cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas last Monday, little did I know that it would be the last cruise ship to depart Miami for a month due to all cruises being canceled.

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The cruise was a three night sailing to the Bahamas that departed on Friday with the highlight stop being at the cruise line’s private island, CocoCay.

During the muster drill, my phone began to blow up as my friends in the industry were letting me know that Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean announced that all cruises were canceled for the next 30 days. (Yes, I was reading the messages on my smartwatch since phones have to be put away at that time.) Since Royal Caribbean’s suspension wasn’t going to begin until midnight, we were cleared to sail our weekend getaway.

What was it like being on the last cruise ship to depart Miami amid the coronavirus pandemic that was sweeping the nation?

I set sail with 2,100 other passengers on the 3,600 passenger Navigator of the Seas.  During the cruise, I had many friends ask me what it was like on board.  Besides having lots of elbow room and my choice of chairs anywhere I went on the ship, the vibe on the ship was the same as my other four dozen cruises I’ve taken.  Everyone was having a good time.


Embarkation was the smoothest I’ve ever had on a cruise.  The instant we walked into the terminal, we had our temperature checked to make sure we didn’t have a fever.

The second you stepped into the terminal, you had your temperature checked

While this was my eight cruise on Royal Caribbean, it was my first cruise to ever leave out of their new Terminal A at PortMiami. Even with the temperature check and the newly expanded medical form that we had to fill out, I went from Lyft to ship in around eight minutes.

I was onboard the ship at 10:45 am. It was incredibly fast thanks to using the Royal Caribbean app to expedite check-in.

Hand Washing

One thing I love about Royal Caribbean ships are the hand washing stations as soon as you walk in the Windjammer.  On previous cruises, passengers who refused to wash their hands were given hand sanitizer. On this cruise, hand washing was mandatory before entering the buffet. I hope this remains the policy after coronavirus fades into the sunset.

Hand washing station outside the Windjammer Buffet

Hand Sanitizer

I joked with my one my friends that I took the cruise since ships have unlimited hand sanitizer and it was sold out in every store.

Extra hand sanitizer stations were added around the ship.  There was even one on the curb so you could sanitize your hands before even entering the cruise terminal on embarkation day.

On CocoCay, hand sanitizer stations were all over the island.  Before boarding the ship at each port of call, we were also directed to the hand sanitizing stations.

Cabin Attendant

I have to give a shoutout to my cabin attendant Naomi who took care of me in 7266.  She was awesome and did such a great job. One of the best cabin attendants I’ve ever had on a cruise.

Odds and Ends

The cruise ended up being one of the best cruise experiences I’ve ever had.  A lot of that probably had to do with the fact that the ship wasn’t crowded so there was never a line and empty chairs all over the ship. After all, who doesn’t like a little elbow room?

Navigator of the Seas was the cleanest ship I’ve ever been on.  Not only were the crew doing extra cleaning everywhere around the ship, but passengers were also making a conscious effort to wash hands and use sanitizer as much as possible.

I loved the beach theme that the ship now has after the recent Amplification. The cabanas around the pool deck are a great touch.

Debarkation was also a breeze due to the facial recognition scanners they have at customs.

I look forward to being on one of the first cruises when cruise ships start sailing once again.

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
Cruise NewsWhat It Was Like Cruising on the Last Cruise Ship to Leave...


  1. I also sailed on one of the last sailing before the shut down. I was on Symphony of the Seas from February 22nd through 29. They weren’t checking temperatures at that time, but there was a nervousness in the air about covid-19. The captain was making constant reminders about washing your hand and everyone was being very proactive about it.

    Actually, we were in St. Martin docked right next to Fred Olsen’s Braemar after it had to return because they were being denied entry to their other ports of call. I realized after we got off Symphony what the story was with Braemar and it hit me that we could have been exposed. These are such scary times and I really want it to be over with so we can get on with live as usual.

  2. Wow. I cancelled my cruise for Mar. 8-15 on Holland America.I am 60 and was not going to take the chance,No need for added anxiety and health scares.You never know. He was lucky.Is 7 days worth uour life? NO.

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