Cruising has largely returned to what it was before the pandemic -- at least once you board the ship. Before you cruise, Royal Caribbean International (RCL) - Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) - Get Carnival Corporation Report, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) - Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report, and the other lines sailing from U.S. ports still require would-be passengers to check some boxes.
First, all passengers 12 and over must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before the ship sails. Boosters are not required, but passengers do have to show their original vaccine cards. In addition, anyone sailing must show a negative covid test taken no more than two days before their sailing.
Proving you have met those requirements makes boarding a bit more of a chore, especially because some passengers do not have their documents in order. After you pass the boarding hurdles, however, being on a cruise feels almost entirely like what it did before the pandemic.
Masks are optional for passengers and capacities have inched back toward normal. Crew members remain masked and social-distancing signs are still up, but nobody is social distancing anymore.
And nearly all activities have returned -- but a few guest favorites have not.
What Is Royal Caribbean's 'The Quest?'
Before the pandemic, Royal Caribbean offered an adults-only game show called "The Quest." It's a well-loved risque event that's sort of shrouded in secrecy. You're not supposed to take pictures or video, but lots of videos are on the internet.
A number of members of the message-boards section of the Royal Caribbean Blog attempted to explain the event:
"It's basically this giant scavenger hunt within your team. On Oasis it was in Studio B. There are 6ish couples who are team leads, and the cruise director shouts out tasks --things to find in the audience, or things to accomplish. For example, 6 ladies bras, or 3 shoelaces tied together. The team leads have a card with their number on it, and as soon as the task is done/found, they run up to the cruise director with the object and the card, wave it in his face. The fastest teams get more points," wrote hmills96.
It can get a bit raunchy, according to Jerel.
"It's a adult oriented game show where people willingly makes fools of themselves," he wrote. "...It doesn't take long before they are asking for girls who are wearing red thongs and to prove it on stage, or even ask a captain to produce 4 bras, many women will quickly rip them off btw. Also it's pretty much guaranteed to see men dirty dancing with each other and/or hairy men dressed up in women's clothing."
The post also noted that some people may have regrets the next day.
"It tends to be on the last night, I assume because you may not want to be seen in public the next day," he added.
Will Royal Caribbean Bring 'The Quest' Back?
"The Quest" involves a lot of people in a fairly small space, with touching a body a key part of the game. That's not a great look for the cruise line, even if social distancing has largely gone away on cruise ships.
Cruise-line personnel have told passengers that "The Quest" would return, but no timetable has been given.
Multiple crew members noted that Studio B, where "The Quest" takes place on most ships, has been used for show rehearsals. Various productions have struggled to get to their full complement of cast or have had to integrate understudies due to positive covid tests.
The company has not made any official statement on "The Quest," but numerous crew members/activity personnel have said that it would come back.
For now, "The Quest," and balloon drops on the Royal Promenade along with certain parties in that same central corridor remain casualties of the pandemic.
Balloon drops have been tested on some ships but have not formally returned while "The Quest" remains in the cruise line's plans, but it does not yet have a return date.