In the second quarter earnings report released on July 28, Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty said the company plans to remove testing requirements for vaccinated guests by August 8 for all of its cruise brands on shorter sailings.
The company is possibly considering removing vaccinations as a requirement to cruise as well, transitioning to the point where everyone will be able to vacation onboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ships. Liberty did not mention dates for when this could come into effect, while worldwide requirements now do not allow the cruise company to make this step.
Royal Caribbean Removes Testing Requirements
Guests sailing onboard one of the Royal Caribbean ships, including Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea, will not be required to present a negative test result starting August 8.
The requirement will initially be removed for vaccinated guests sailing on cruises less than six days in length. Guests that have not been vaccinated and all guests sailing on cruises six days in length and longer will still need to provide proof of a negative test.
With the majority of cruises for Royal Caribbean International shorter than six days, the new requirement will significantly impact the pre-cruise preparation for guests.
The change in policy is a direct result of the CDC ending the COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships, according to Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty:
“Since our return to service last year, we have seen more than 3 million guests enjoy cruise vacations responsibly, under an evolving operating environment,”
“Last week, the CDC ended its COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships. Based on this change, 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. Starting Aug. 8, testing will be required for unvaccinated guests on all voyages and for vaccinated guests only on voyages that are six nights or longer.”
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Removing the testing requirements will mean a massive boost for Royal Caribbean. Many people are postponing their cruise plans due to the hassle of testing two days before a voyage.
Will Royal Caribbean Drop Vaccine Mandate
Jason Liberty also seems to hint at the end of the vaccine mandates, saying: “we’re transitioning to the point where everyone will be able to vacation with us.”
If this is the case, the cruise line will take a significant step toward returning to normal cruising. For now, nearly all passengers with the exemption of children under the age of twelve and those with medical exemptions must be fully vaccinated to cruise.
However, it would seem unlikely this would be happening in the immediate future. Nearly all destinations worldwide require cruise ships to sail or arrive with all guests fully vaccinated.
To remove this requirement, Royal Caribbean would have to be in agreement with all destinations on sailing without a vaccine mandate. Only when those agreements are in place could a mandate be dropped.
Dropping the vaccine mandate is not looking like an easy step to make. But, by minimizing the testing requirements, Royal Caribbean Group has taken an enormous step toward returning to ‘normal’ cruises. An effort that several other cruise lines have also made in the last weeks.