As expected, Royal Caribbean has released its health and safety guidelines for November following the extension of the Conditional Sail Order from the CDC.
The cruise line posted several updates to its website for US sailings only, excluding Puerto Rico. Royal Caribbean has made a point of providing updates to its health guidelines covering short periods; therefore, the new protocols are only for November 2021.
While most requirements remain the same as previous months, Royal Caribbean did include some restrictions on Caribbean ports. On several high-profile islands, the cruise line requires guests to book excursions to go ashore.
Royal Caribbean Bubble Tours
While most health requirements remain the same for guests boarding a Royal Caribbean ship, one new measure will undoubtedly disappoint many cruisers. Cruises that sail to St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts, or Antigua will have increased measures in place for guests wishing to explore ashore.
Also Read: IDEAL Things to Do in Antigua
Guests will not be allowed to venture off the ship by themselves and will need to book a shore excursion on board if they wish to see any of the destinations. However, the measure from Royal Caribbean seems to be at direct odds with newly implemented guidelines in Antigua.
The Antigua Observer reported only days ago that the cruise ship bubble would be abolished immediately:
Information Minister Melford Nicholas: “Late last evening the tourism minister did indicate that he had word from the cruise sector that they are now prepared to bring an end to the bubble environment in which they had been operating at the start and resumption of the cruise business to Antigua and other ports across the Caribbean, and so accordingly over the coming days with the arrival of these ships, merchants and vendors in the St John’s area, particularly Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay, can look forward to an increase in customers from the cruise industry.”
Nonetheless, it seems unlikely that Royal Caribbean will be changing the protocols again for November.
What Other Protocols Will Be In Place?
As we mentioned before, most of the onboard protocols remain the same; without a considerable change in cases in the United States, we are likely to see the following guidelines over the coming period.
Vaccinations are required for all guests aged 12 and above. Although a decision is expected from the FDA on vaccinations for kids aged five and older in the next 24 hours, a mandatory policy on this will not be in place in the coming weeks.
Children aged between 2 and 11 years old will need to show proof of a negative PCR test upon boarding; this test may not be taken on embarkation day. There will be an additional complimentary PCR test for this age group on embarkation day.
In November, one Royal Caribbean ship, Explorer of the Seas, will commence sailings from San Juan, Puerto Rico. For these cruises, guests can expect the same protocols as sailings from the US, with some notable exceptions, which are to do with entry requirements in Puerto Rico.
Everyone over two years old who is not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Moderna, Pfizer, or Janssen vaccines, must provide evidence of a negative molecular or antigen test for COVID-19 performed within the 72 hours before arrival to Puerto Rico.
The test results must be shown at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan. All guests are also required to fill in a Travel Declaration. All the protocols for Royal Caribbean departures can be viewed here.
The current guidelines will be in effect during November 2021; health guidelines for cruises after that will be announced at a later date as the situation continues to develop.