With the Alaska season about to begin and new health and safety protocols in place for cruises visiting Canada, Royal Caribbean International has updated its travel information for cruisers visiting the Last Frontier. While these protocols are subject to change if needed, cruise passengers should review all the latest information to be prepared for their Alaska cruise vacation.
Protocols Released for Alaska Cruises
Guests sailing from U.S. homeports must comply with a range of health and safety protocols for their Alaska cruises. This includes departures from Seattle, Washington as well as Seward, Alaska. Royal Caribbean’s Healthy Sail Center states:
“Due to the fluidity of this situation, our protocols are subject to change and we are committed to keeping you informed if they do. Future protocols may require boosters, lowered vaccination ages, and changes to testing. Whenever possible we will provide prior notice for any changes. Just the same, we’ll let you know if any requirements are reduced or eliminated.”
To begin the Alaska cruise season, guests should be aware of the following protocols.
All guests age 12 and older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with the final dose administered at least 14 days prior to sailing. Children ages 5-11 can follow onboard protocols for vaccinated passengers if they have also been fully vaccinated, but are not required to be vaccinated in order to sail.
Guests should note that Royal Caribbean International will not accept a Certificate of Recovery instead of proof of vaccination, if the guest is old enough to be eligible for vaccination. At the moment, booster shots are not required as part of the definition of fully vaccinated.
Pre-Cruise COVID-19 Testing
All guests must take an approved PCR or rapid antigen test and present a negative result no more than two days prior to boarding the ship. Unvaccinated children must take a PCR test no more than three days before boarding, but cannot take the test on embarkation day due to additional testing requirements.
Unvaccinated children will also take additional COVID-19 tests before and during the cruise, with the first administered at the embarkation terminal before boarding the ship. Another test will be administered no more than one day before arriving in Canada, and another test before arriving back in the U.S. for debarkation.
Guests under 2 years old do not need to take a pre-cruise test and will not be tested during the voyage.
While guests must pay for their pre-cruise tests, but Royal Caribbean will pay for the additional tests for unvaccinated children. The number of tests will depend on the length of the cruise sailing.
All guests should have the following documents available at the cruise terminal when they are ready to board:
- Passport or passport card (non-U.S. citizens will need a passport book), valid at least six months after the cruise.
- COVID-19 vaccination record card clearly showing dosage dates for all guests ages 12 and older, as well as for vaccinated children ages 5-11.
- Negative COVID-19 test result that aligns with the pre-cruise testing requirements.
- Health questionnaire completed on the Royal Caribbean app the day before boarding.
- ArriveCAN app completed with mandatory travel information.
The ArriveCan app is a requirement for every cruise passenger visiting Canada, regardless of whether they are setting sail from a Canadian embarkation port, ending their cruise at a Canadian port, or simply visiting a Canadian port of call as part of their itinerary.
Royal Caribbean explains, “We are working with the Canadian government to make this process easier for guests arriving by cruise ship, and will ensure guests have guidance to complete this process smoothly onboard.”
Arriving at Embarkation
All guests will be required to select an arrival time slot for when they will board the ship. These 30-minute arrival slots can be selected through the Royal Caribbean app when checking in for the cruise, up to 30 days before embarkation.
Arrival appointments have become standard with most cruise lines and help keep crowds flowing smoothly through the embarkation terminal, minimizing waits and promoting better distancing. Guests who arrive early will not be permitted to embark until their designated time, and guests arriving late will need to wait until they can be worked into another time slot.
In accordance with local guidelines, guests are required to wear masks at all times while in the cruise terminal during embarkation and debarkation. While onboard Royal Caribbean ships, masks are optional for fully-vaccinated guests.
Unvaccinated children are expected to wear masks in indoor areas or where crowds prohibit social distancing, and masks are required for all young cruisers ages 2 and older at Adventure Ocean activities. Guests under 2 years old are not required to wear masks.
Guidelines Subject to Change
As has happened throughout the pandemic as cruise operations restart, all health and safety protocols are subject to change as needed and possibly without notice.
Guests are also expected to comply with all health and safety protocols in different ports of call, and those guidelines will be clearly communicated to travelers before each stop.