As Royal Caribbean works on resuming operations from the U.S. and with plenty of questions about the vaccine policy from guests, the cruise line clarifies its plan and the different vaccine requirements depending on where ships are sailing from.
Royal Caribbean Vaccine Policy
One of the main aspects of resuming cruise operations safely is to sail unvaccinated or fully vaccinated sailings and follow the guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Now that cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, are starting to bring ships back to service, different vaccine policies depend on where ships are sailing from.
Here’s a simplified list of the policy depending on where cruise ships are departing from:
- Cruises from Seattle: Guests who are 16 years of age or older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and those 12 or older as of Aug. 1
- Cruises from Florida: It is strongly recommended that guests set sail fully vaccinated, if they are eligible. Those who are unvaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols at their own expense. These expenses are still being finalized. Based on our guest survey’s, we expect 90% of all our guests to be fully vaccinated
- Cruises from Texas: Guests who are 12 years of age or older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19
- Cruises from The Bahamas: Guests who are 16 years of age or older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and those 12 or older as of Aug. 1
- Cruises from the UK: Sailing UK residents above the age of 18 must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and those under the age of 18 are required to receive negative test results.
- Cruises from Cyprus: Guests above the age of 18 who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and those under the age of 18 with negative test results can sail.
- Cruises from Spain: Guests above the age of 18 who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and those under the age of 18 with negative test results can sail.
- Cruises from Singapore: Sailing Singapore guests are not required to be vaccinated but must follow the protocols outlined by the Singapore government
All crew members are to be fully vaccinated across the fleet and the cruise line and at the end of May, 6,000 of the crew had already received at least one shot.
U.S. Departures (Except Florida)
For Royal Caribbean departures out of the U.S., excluding Florida, all guests over 16 years old and over. The will change to 12 years and over from August 1, 2021. That’s due to the vaccine being available across the country to much younger people.
Even guests under 12 and 16 years old can cruise, but they must have a negative test result and follow specific health protocols, likely to be more strict than those who are fully vaccinated as per the CDC requirements.
The situation in Florida is more tricky due to the ban on vaccine passports and companies not allowed to request proof of vaccination as part of bill SB 2006 that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed on May 3, 2021. There could be a $5,000 fine each time a company requests proof of vaccination in Florida. As a result, Royal Caribbean has carefully chosen its wording not to break the state law.
The cruise line strongly recommends that all guests are fully vaccinated for cruises out of Florida. 90% of guests are expected to be fully vaccinated anyway, but Royal Caribbean says, “Guests eligible but not fully vaccinated or able to show proof of vaccination will be subject to testing and additional health protocols at their own expense. Children not eligible for vaccines will be subject to complimentary testing and health protocols.”
The CDC requires proof of full vaccination to be requested for sailings, and that’s where the conflict remains on operations out of Florida. Royal Caribbean is still working on the final details of its policy and is collaborating with the CDC for a safe return. The situation was not so positive just months ago, with no hope of resuming operations and unworkable technical details.
The cruise line is making a comeback, and just over the weekend, the first ship in the fleet resumed sailings in North America out of Nassau, Bahamas, with a fully vaccinated sailing. There will be six Royal Caribbean cruise ships to restart this summer out of Florida and Texas. Freedom of the Seas will be the first ship in the fleet to depart from the U.S out of PortMiami on July 2, 2021.