Royal Caribbean Drops Pre-Cruise Tests for Majority of Cruises

Royal Caribbean International drops requirements for almost all sailings, making it even easier for passengers to take a cruise vacation.

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Royal Caribbean International has announced the removal of pre-cruise testing for most cruises from the United States and Europe. The cruise line now accepts all guests, regardless of vaccination status, without needing to provide a negative pre-cruise test result. 

The new protocols are effective immediately but still include some exceptions, most notably for cruises visiting Colombia, Haiti, or Honduras. Cruises that call in or sail from Australia and transatlantic cruises also require guests to provide a negative test result. 

No more Testing Before a Royal Caribbean Cruise

A day before parent company Royal Caribbean Group will announce its Q3 quarterly results, the cruise line updated its pre-cruise testing requirements in away that both guests and investors will welcome. 

Effective immediately, Royal Caribbean International does not require guests to provide negative COVID-19 test results before sailing, regardless of whether they have been fully vaccinated.

Royal Caribbean said the following in an email notification:

“Effective November 2, 2022, all travelers on U.S. sailings, regardless of vaccination status, will no longer require pre-departure testing excluding sailings to Colombia, Haiti, & Honduras.”

As mentioned, there will still be limited cruises that require a negative test result before sailing if guests have not been fully vaccinated or are not able to provide suitable proof of vaccination. 

Royal Caribbean Ship in Labadee Haiti
Photo Credit: NAN728 / Shutterstock.com

These are Roatan in Honduras, Colombia, and most notably, Royal Caribbean’s private resort destination in Haiti, Labadee. For sailings visiting these ports, guests aged 12 and up who are not fully vaccinated have three days to take a test before their cruise, regardless of the cruise length.

Guests under the age of 12 do not have any testing requirements.

Medically supervised in-person tests, medically supervised telehealth tests, and self-swab tests, including unsupervised testing, are all accepted.

Also excluded from this relaxation are cruises sailing to, from, or with a call in Australia.

Regardless of vaccination status, all guests aged two and above must present a negative test result for a COVID-19  PCR test taken within two days before boarding day, or a self-administered Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) within one day before boarding, for Australian sailings of any length.

The local authorities mandate these destination-specific requirements, which Royal Caribbean has little influence on. 

For transatlantic voyages, all guests ages five and up should provide proof of a negative test result taken within two days before sailing.

The move from a major cruise line such as Royal Caribbean, which carries more passengers per day than most other cruise lines, could be seen as the end of the pandemic-related protocols that have been a staple of cruising in the last two years. 

While these protocols provided a way for the cruise industry to re-open more than a year ago while caseloads were still significant worldwide, today the protocols have meant that taking a cruise involved far more effort than taking a land-based vacation. 

In July of this year, Jason Liberty, the CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, hinted at making a move toward ending pre-cruise testing:

“We are continuing to adapt our protocols to align more closely with how the rest of society and other travel and leisure businesses are operating. This means that we’re transitioning to the point where everyone will be able to vacation with us while always working with our destination partners to meet their regulations.”

With today’s announcement, that transition has largely been met.

In the last couple of weeks, we have seen multiple cruise lines change their pre-cruise and onboard protocols. In most cases, protocols only remain in place for much longer cruises and those that visit destinations with stricter regional requirements. 

Even those protocols may disappear in the following weeks and months, especially with cruise companies wanting to take full advantage of the upcoming busy Caribbean cruise season. 

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