Royal Caribbean has extended its health and safety policies through March 2022. These policies apply to cruises that sail from ports in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Barbados. Guests and travel agents have started receiving emails detailing the protocols.
The changes to the guidelines mainly involve requirements for children aged 5-11 years of age, as these can now get vaccinated inside the United States and elsewhere. However, the most significant changes are new guidelines for Grandeur of the Seas sailing from Barbados starting this December.
Royal Caribbean updated its health and safety policies for pre-cruise testing and vaccination requirements before boarding, as well as updated entry requirements for upcoming cruises outside the United States. The current update is valid through March of 2022, making this update one that guests will be able to rely on for the coming winter months.
Over the last period, the cruise company released health protocols that were valid for very short amounts of time. The newest update mainly involves changes to the cruise company’s policies for children and how they can sail if they are vaccinated and when they are not vaccinated.
The policies for sailings from the United States remain pretty similar, and no changes were expected. Guests over the age of 12 must be fully vaccinated and show proof that vaccination has taken place at least 14 days before sailing. Whether vaccinated or not, all guests must show a negative PCR or antigen test result taken no more than two days before sailing.
For kids aged 5-to 11 years old, the policy has shifted somewhat. If kids have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the same rules apply to those 12 and older.
If kids in the age bracket of 2-11 years of age have not been fully vaccinated, they will need to show a negative PCR or antigen test result in the terminal taken no more than three days before sailing, but not on embarkation day. They will then undergo a second complimentary PCR-RT test before boarding and a complimentary antigen test before leaving the ship.
The requirements for boarding the ship in Puerto Rico are the same as those for sailings from the continental US; the only difference is the entry requirements into Puerto Rico if arriving from abroad.
If flying in from the US, vaccinated guests have no testing requirement to enter Puerto Rico. Unvaccinated kids aged 2-11 must show a negative result for a PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours before arriving at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan.
All persons aged two and above, flying in from an international country, regardless of vaccination status, must show a negative result for a PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours before arriving at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan.
The tests that guests show at the airport can be the same as they use to board the ship, provided they fall within the correct timeline of testing two days before boarding for those 12 years old and up and three days prior for kids aged 2-11 years old.
Grandeur of the Seas will commence operations from Bridgetown, Barbados, on December 12, with a series of 7-day Caribbean cruises calling in places like Trinidad, St. Lucia, Tobago, Dominica, and the Grenadines. Guests that would like to sail on these unique itineraries will need to make some effort.
The voyages are available only to those that have been fully vaccinated if they are 12 years or older. To enter the country, all guests five years and older must show a negative PCR COVID-19 test result to fly into Barbados regardless of vaccination status.
The test must be taken within the three days before the day you fly into the country. Guests must upload this to the Barbados immigration website; more info here: Visit Barbados.
Kids that have not been vaccinated will need to show a negative PCR COVID-19 test result at the cruise terminal taken no more than three days before the day they board the ship.
As with Puerto Rico entry requirements, this test can be the same as the Barbadian entry test if timed correctly. It may occur that guests will need to take an additional COVID-19 test before debarking the vessel to satisfy Barbados debarkation requirements.
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As for going ashore on these sailings, there is one major drawback, at least for sailings in December. On December cruises from Barbados, all guests will need to book a tour if they wish to go ashore in ports of call. Whether guests have been vaccinated or not is irrelevant in this case.