Royal Caribbean has released the health protocols for the period following October 1 for U.S. departures. The update was sent to travel agents by the cruise line and is valid only from October 1 until October 15.
The previous health requirements have been in place for quite a while now and were set to expire by the start of October. Why the cruise line has now said that these health requirements are valid only for two weeks is unclear, although it does allow the cruise line to make changes on short notice should it need to do that, as was the case with pre-cruise testing in the last few weeks.
As Royal Caribbean says in the update sent to travel partners, the cruise line has been sailing for three months already. There have been few to no incidents in the last few months, COVID outbreaks have not happened, there have been relatively few cases on board the ships, and all-in-all it has been a successful couple of months for the cruise line.
That doesn’t mean that the cruise line will now change its policies, do away with testing or vaccination requirements, or the much-discussed mask requirements. The cruise line is, in fact, building on the successful period and the proven worth of the current health requirements:
“It’s certainly been an exciting few months as we get back to doing what we love — delivering exceptional vacations to you and your clients. Nothing brings us more joy than seeing the anticipation and excitement leading up to these long- awaited vacations. Since the restart of cruising, we’ve been able to deliver healthy & safe vacations as a result of our proven protocols.”
With that in mind, the cruise line has renewed the health protocols for October, and little has changed, except for the short validity; the new guidelines are only for cruises from October 1 until October 15. Travel agents are also told that guests who do not wish to adhere to the guidelines are eligible for a refund or a future cruise credit:
“With October quickly approaching, we’d like to share all that your clients can expect when sailing from a US homeport between October 1-15, 2021. If booked guests do not wish to follow these protocols, we are happy to provide them with a refund or move their sailing into the future when circumstances may have evolved. Health and safety protocols are subject to change and, as these occur, we’re committed to updating you.”
Royal Caribbean Protocols for 1-15 October
Guests who board a Royal Caribbean ship in the upcoming period between October 1 and October 15 will need to adhere to the following health and safety protocols, besides the vaccine requirement which is in place for all guests above the age of 12 years old:
All guests, except infants two years old and younger, must be tested before the cruise starts. For unvaccinated guests, which means kids younger than 12 years of age, and those that cannot be vaccinated due to medical or religious reasons, this should be a PCR test done no later than three days before the start of the voyage, and they should hand over the negative test result in the terminal.
On embarkation day and before boarding, unvaccinated guests will be tested again before they are allowed to board the ship. They will also receive another test before disembarking the ship if the cruise is longer than five days.
Vaccinated guests have a choice of PCR or rapid test, which needs to be performed no later than two days before the start of the voyage. Guests now have the opportunity to do a home test which eMed supervises.
Wearing a Mask Onboard
One of the most discussed issues remains wearing a mask onboard. Masks remain necessary in all indoor areas of the ship, except when eating or drinking. Local authorities could demand masks when on tours or walking through ports of call, and a mask is also required when the open decks become too crowded.
Wearing a mask is not necessary around the pool and in areas that have been designated for vaccinated guests only; this includes areas such as selected bars, restaurants, and shows in the theatres. My Time Dining is also not available for travel parties that include unvaccinated guests.
The health protocols are still subject to change, which could happen on short notice if the current situation calls for it. What we do know is that Royal Caribbean has been incredibly successful with keeping guests safe on board the ships, something we can all hope continues in the coming months as daily life keeps evolving worldwide.