After months of positive news and relaxation of measures, several cruise lines have decided to go back to stricter implementation of health and safety measures on board their ships.
Guests onboard Royal Caribbean ships are now required to wear masks at all times when inside the ships. The requirement is in place until January 5, 2022, at least.
With the Omicron variant proving to be as contagious as expected and massive increases in cases worldwide, Royal Caribbean International has decided to tighten up its onboard measures again. This comes after nearly all cruise lines had begun to relax protocols onboard over the last month where possible.
Guests sailing onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship worldwide are now required to wear masks inside the ship at all times. The only exception to the rule is when guests actively eat or drink. In a statement sent to guests, the cruise line says the following:
“With the recent uptick of COVID-19 in the world and added Omicron variant concerns, we feel it prudent to temporarily tighten our onboard health protocols to require masks indoors at all times, unless actively eating or drinking. This new update also applies to vaccinated areas and venues. We’re sorry for any disappointment that this may cause, but hope you understand that health and safety come first. Despite the new requirement, we know you will still have a great time onboard.”
The policy change from Royal Caribbean comes after Norwegian Cruise Line also announced a new mask policy on the same day.
As implemented on December 17, 2021, the new mask policy is broadly similar to policies in place earlier this year. This means that masks are not necessary for all open-air areas of the ships unless the area is crowded.
If guests are in a setting where the masks might get wet, such as in the pool, they are unnecessary. Neither are masks needed when inside staterooms or when visiting the cruise line’s private destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay. Finally, kids under the age of 2 do not need to wear a mask.
So, where do passengers need to wear a mask on board a Royal Caribbean ship? Basically, in all areas inside the ship. This includes the casino, shops, and bars and restaurants unless actively eating or drinking.
During ports of call, guests might be required to wear a mask as well. However, this also depends on the local requirements in individual ports. The only place where masks are definitely not needed are during calls to Perfect Day at CocoCay.
The mask requirement comes during one of the busiest times of the year for the cruise industry. High season means that most cruise lines have deployed their ships to the Caribbean, and with thousands of people and hundreds of ships sailing around, there is no surprise the cruise lines choose to tighten their protocols.
The question is now what the line will do for guests who have booked their cruise who do not wish to sail with their masks on at all times.
For now, it seems guests will need to accept that masks are, once again, part of the cruise experience. And despite the proven protocols, an outbreak on board a ship is still a real possibility.