Royal Caribbean to Drop Vaccine Requirement on Select Cruises

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Royal Caribbean released a further update to its protocols on Wednesday, which will go into effect in September 2022. The cruise line will drop the vaccine requirement on select sailings from the U.S. and Europe. It’s another step to normality and follows other recently relaxed requirements.

Royal Caribbean Vaccine Requirement Update

The cruise line has announced a further easing of its protocols by dropping the vaccine requirements on select sailings from September 5, 2022. This easing applies to certain departures out of Los Angeles in California, Galveston in Texas, New Orleans in Louisiana, and cruises in Europe.

Royal Caribbean said in a letter to travel agents, “Here at Royal Caribbean, you can trust we will continue to prioritize the health and safety of our guests, crew, and the communities we visit. We continue to work with our destination partners to evolve our protocols and align with the broader travel industry, as we transition to the point that everyone can vacation with us.”

This now means that regardless of vaccination status, guests can cruise on the select sailings, as long as they meet any testing requirements.

Adventure of the Seas in Galveston
Photo Credit: Port of Galveston

For cruises out of Galveston and New Orleans that visit Grand Cayman, only passengers that show a valid vaccination record can go ashore. When it comes to the select European cruises, unvaccinated guests will have to take a test onboard to be allowed ashore in Greece or Spain.

Guests will still need to follow the pre-cruise testing requirements. For departures five nights or less out of Los Angeles and Galveston, unvaccinated guests aged 2 and over must show a negative test result to sail. Vaccinated guests, regardless of age, no longer need to test for the shorter sailings.

When it comes to cruises that are six nights or more, all guests aged 2 and over must present a negative test result taken within three days before departure. This can be a PCR or antigen test supervised in person or by telehealth professional.

Testing requirements for sailings in Europe are unchanged. Royal Caribbean is finalizing the testing for departures out of New Orleans.

Not Yet for Eastern Caribbean

What’s notably missing are Eastern Caribbean cruises, such as those that sail to the Bahamas. Currently, the island nation requires all cruise ship passengers 12 and over to be fully vaccinated to enter the port. This also includes cruise line private islands, such as Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships
Photo Credit: Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock

Royal Caribbean said, “We are working with local governments in the Eastern Caribbean to align on vaccination requirements for more itineraries. We want to ensure a great experience going ashore at these ports, for guests of any vaccination status, while meeting local health regulations.”

The cruise line is working with the ports and says it will share information to travel agents and guests as it becomes available.

This news comes as the cruise industry starts to relax its protocols and aligns with other travel sectors, such as flights. With the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ending its cruise ship program on July 18, 2022, multiple cruise lines have already announced updated protocols to allow more unvaccinated guests to sail and to reduce pre-cruise testing.

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