With the Bahamas requiring all cruise passengers 12 years old and over to be fully vaccinated, Royal Caribbean has updated its protocols for September. The cruise line has been adamant about keeping the requirements so that both vaccinated and non-vaccinated guests can sail aboard the ships, but to no avail.
The Bahamian Prime Minister issued an emergency order on August 19, impacting the cruise industry and cruise ships making calls in the Bahamas. Effective from September 3 until November 1, 2021, no passengers will be allowed to enter any Bahamas ports, including private islands, unless several requirements are met, including a vaccination requirement.
The new requirements mean that all U.S. departures and departures worldwide onboard Royal Caribbean ships will sail with 100% fully vaccinated guests from September onwards. This is now the case as Florida protocols in September were updated which follows other ports that already had a requirement for guests 12 and over to be fully vaccinated.
Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines sailing with unvaccinated guests have all managed to sail reasonably successfully over the last few months; while a few cases have been reported here and there, there have been no significant outbreaks or other issues onboard.
Nonetheless, the Bahamian Government’s new emergency order has now effectively banned any cruise ship that sails with unvaccinated guests over the age of 12. It has also prompted Royal Caribbean to take swift action.
From September 3 onwards, and for cruises onboard Allure of the Seas departing Port Canaveral August 22 and August 29 and Symphony of the Seas departing Miami August 21 and August 29, all guests must be fully vaccinated. The only exception to this rule will be those under the age of 12 and guests who are not eligible for any of the COVID-19 vaccines due to medical contraindications.
Michael Bayley, the president, and CEO for Royal Caribbean, said the following:
The Bahamas has introduced an Executive order which only allows cruise ships to enter any Bahamian port (including private destinations) only if all guests over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated. Effective September 3. So what does it mean! Along with the USVI order a couple of weeks ago, it means all of our ships sailings from Florida and from all USA ports and ports around the world require all eligible guests to be fully vaccinated. Only kids (under 12 from USA ports) who cannot yet be vaccinated can sail subject to testing and protocols.
So what does this mean?
Royal Caribbean Will Not Allow Any Unvaccinated Guests Worldwide
According to the statement made by Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean will not be allowing any guests onboard who have not been fully vaccinated worldwide.
The move from Royal Caribbean does not come entirely as a surprise. While the cruise line is almost forced to implement the rules by the Bahamas, earlier this month, the US Virgin Islands implemented the same rules and regulations. On top of that, in Europe, ships are already requiring a vaccine mandate for most sailings, and the same counts in the UK.
The measures from the Bahamas will be welcome news for many guests that have indicated they would rather sail with a fully vaccinated group of guests. Michael Bayley’s post on his Facebook page is full of positive reactions from guests booked onboard, welcoming the move from the cruise line:
Fabulous news, kudos to the Bahamian Government, they are within their rights to protect their citizenry from Covid.
Everyone has choices. If the islands decide that they do not want unvaccinated people on their island, that’s their choice, just like those that choose not to get vaccinated. You can’t complain when it doesn’t go your way.
However, the move from the Bahamas will also meet significant backlash from those opposed for one way or the other to vaccinations at this time. Unfortunately for them, they will either need to get the shot or refrain from cruising aboard Royal Caribbean’s ships for the time being.
Whatever the reasoning, for now, it seems that most ports worldwide will be moving to a fully vaccinated requirement, which will give cruise lines no option but to require the same from their guests.