Royal Caribbean Modifies Protocols for Cruises Departing Puerto Rico

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After new health regulations have come into play for Puerto Rico, Royal Caribbean has been forced to implement strict entry, testing, and quarantine requirements for cruises sailing out of San Juan. The new regulations include entry guidelines, a stricter testing regime before cruises, and testing before the vessel returns to Puerto Rico.

Those impacted the most by the new guidelines will be families with unvaccinated children and unvaccinated residents. The country is implementing a 7-day quarantine period for those remaining in Puerto Rico post-cruise.

Changes to Entry and Testing Requirements for Cruises

Guests booked on cruises aboard Explorer of the Seas from San Juan will need to pay attention to many entry, testing, and quarantine regulations that the Puerto Rico government has required Royal Caribbean to comply with. There have been some notable changes since the last update from Puerto Rico. Below are the requirements as they are as of January 9, 2022.

The entry requirements have remained relatively similar to what they were before. Guests entering the country from abroad will need to complete the TravelSafe Declaration Form and upload their vaccination status, while locals will need to complete this form after sailing.

Symphony of the Seas in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Photo Credit: Puerto Rico Port Authority

Guests two years and older must provide a negative result from a PCR or antigen test for COVID-19 taken within 48 hours before entering Puerto Rico; this is whether you have been fully vaccinated or not. Guests traveling from anywhere outside the United States must provide a negative result from a PCR or antigen test for COVID-19 taken within 24 hours before flying to Puerto Rico.

Read Also: Ideal Hotels Near San Juan Cruise Port

The above tests are different than what you will need to board the vessel, although in some cases, they can be used provided you time it right. Vaccinated guests must have a negative PCR or antigen test taken no more than two days before boarding day and proof of vaccination.

Kids that have not yet been fully vaccinated will need to show a negative test result for a PCR test only, taken no more than three days before boarding day.

Explorer of the Seas is operating two different itineraries to the Southern Caribbean from San Juan. One itinerary sails calls in Saint Thomas, Saint Croix, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, and St Kitts. The second itinerary sails to the Dutch Caribbean ABC islands, calling in Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, as well as having a stop in St. Maarten.

Post Cruise Testing and Quarantine

The one area that has been changed considerably are the requirements in place post-cruise, many of which make it attractive for unvaccinated people to take a cruise from Puerto Rico.

First of all, all residents of Puerto Rico taking a cruise from San Juan will need to be tested within 48 hours of leaving the vessel. Guests who do not live in Puerto Rico must take a test within 24 hours of leaving the vessel.

Docked Cruise Ship in San Juan
Photo Credit: NAN728 /

Guests should upload all test results to the Travelsafe website from the vessel. Guests who fail to meet the testing requirements or fall out of the implemented timelines are subject to a $300 fine from the Puerto Rico government.

That’s not all though. All unvaccinated guests who wish to stay in Puerto Rico outside of their cruise for any pre-cruise or post-cruise activity need to quarantine at least seven days before being allowed around the island. Guests who arrive in Puerto Rico on embarkation day or leave the same day as the end of the cruise do not need to be quarantined.

Any days that unvaccinated guests arrive before the cruise starts will need to be spent in quarantine. This includes families of whom parents are vaccinated but kids are not. Any unvaccinated residents of Puerto Rico that disembark a cruise will also need to be quarantined for seven days.

The Puerto Rico government has already implemented strict regulations for cruise ships visiting the island, making testing required 48 hours before a vessel calls in the port of San Juan. This forced several cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, to cancel a large number of port calls.

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