After more than a year since cruise ships have sailed from the U.S., government and CDC rules continue to change almost daily, leaving many cruisers confused and concerned. Even management at Royal Caribbean have struggled to stay abreast of all these changes. Hopefully as ships begin to sail, things will settle down.
Politicians in Florida have banned private businesses from requiring guests to provide proof they’re vaccinated. With most cruise lines departing from ports in Florida, this has caused issue for cruise lines. Royal Caribbean’s initial policy would have required vaccination for all passengers, but they were forced to change it to obey Florida’s law. Instead, they will set their own policies to ensure the safety of their passengers on board, and It seems that Royal Caribbean’s plans may keep unvaccinated guests away by making cruises more expensive and uncomfortable for them.
Royal Caribbean recently posted a YouTube video intended for a travel agent audience. In it, Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain explained the company’s plans as ships set sail, which consists of policies that will make cruises more expensive and not as welcoming for unvaccinated adults.
In the video, Richard Fain referred to vaccines as the “key to everything” and praised the U.S. government for their role in their development and delivery. Referring to the vaccines, he said, “Getting one today not only protects you from the virus, it protects the whole society and allows us to get back to normalcy.”
For non-vaccinated passengers, or those who will not provide proof of vaccination, Royal Caribbean will require multiple Covid-19 tests. A negative test from within the past 72 hours will need to be presented to board, followed by a second test at the terminal. A third test will be taken within 24 hours of disembarkation. The test at the terminal and prior to disembarkation will be handled by a third party, and cost a combined $136 per person, charged to the guest’s onboard expense account.
Passengers who do not provide proof of a vaccine will not be allowed to attend some onboard events, even if they have tested negative. Vaccinated guests will be able to access special events and venues specifically designed for them, and masks will not be required. Entertainment onboard will include select showtimes exclusively for vaccinated guests. Unvaccinated guests will dine in a separate area and cannot take advantage of flexible options for dining, outside of reserved times. These protocols are in place to create a bubble of safety – for both vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers.
In addition, all guests are subject to restrictions put in place by local authorities at ports the ships visit. Unvaccinated guests will be subject to stricter protocols than vaccinated guests.
Royal Caribbean has stated that they are willing to provide refunds to anyone who is unwilling to follow their new safety protocols.
Have a safe cruise!