Royal Caribbean has changed the company’s requirements for ships sailing to the US Virgin Islands, including Allure of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas, following an announcement by the USVI government that they require all cruise ship passengers to be fully vaccinated.
There are also changes when it comes to protocols for cruising with vaccinated guests now having to do pre-cruise test days before embarkation.
Changes for U.S. Virgin Islands
Up to this week, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line had been highly successful in sailing under the unvaccinated pathway the CDC had opened up for cruise lines. With a majority of families sailing onboard the ships, many with small children, it was the ideal way to go for Royal Caribbean.
However, that is until the government of the US virgin islands stepped in. Royal Caribbean announced that the US Virgin Islands government had informed them that all guests should be fully vaccinated before they are allowed to sail to the islands. Royal Caribbean has been sailing under a protocol that allows guests to sail unvaccinated.
While the requirements from the cruise line are mainly focused on families with kids, other unvaccinated guests would have been allowed to sail as well. This seems to not be the case anymore for either kids or adults onboard Allure of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas, two of the biggest cruise ships in the world.
Royal Caribbean posted:
“For all Allure of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas sailings departing from Florida — the Government of the United States Virgin Islands has informed us of their plans to implement a new requirement that all passengers ages 12 and older traveling onboard a cruise ship must be fully vaccinated for the ship to be allowed entry into St. Thomas.“
“This latest requirement will impact all cruise ships scheduled to call on St. Thomas in the near future. To comply with this requirement, guests ages 12 and older must provide documentation of full vaccination at the terminal as a condition to boarding. Guests under the age of 12 are not required to be vaccinated, but will be subject to our COVID-19 testing policy.“
Who Is Affected?
It’s not hard to see that the USVI has effectively banned all cruise ships from entering the islands if they cannot show proof that every single guest above the age of 12 has been vaccinated. And although the islands are a popular port for cruise ships year-round, it seems they are not taking any risks this time around.
So far, the United States Virgin Islands have only vaccinated 35.6% of its entire population. With the increase of cases in the United States and the rise of Delta variant cases, the tropical island group has made it clear that anyone undertaking cruise ship travel is either fully vaccinated or not welcome.
Allure of the Seas has a call scheduled to St. Thomas on a cruise that departs Port Canaveral on August 8; those guests currently booked on that cruise have the chance to get a full refund or to book themselves on a different cruise.
Symphony of the Seas, in the meantime, has an 8-day sailing on August 21 calling at St. Thomas. Either way, the cruise line will not be sailing with any unvaccinated guests onboard these cruises.
In addition to the changes for St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Royal Caribbean has adapted its requirements to make sure all guests remain protected due to the growing Delta variant.
The cruise line now requires pre-cruise testing for guests who are fully vaccinated. Guests aged 2 and older will need to take a PCR or antigen test no more than 3 days before arriving at the terminal for embarkation. Royal Caribbean also sent out a communication to impacted guests for cruises that are five nights or longer. Further communication was then sent to expand the new policy to cruises that are three and four nights long.
The cruise line already has a testing requirement for guests that are not vaccinated.
Also Read: Royal Caribbean Provides Update on Bookings and Return to Service
The cruise industry has been working extremely hard to get back to cruising as soon as possible, and for a few weeks, this seemed to be working just fine. It is now when the Delta variant has shown to be more of a danger than initially expected that the fluidity of the situation shows its true colors. It will be interesting to see what will be happening in the coming weeks.