Royal Caribbean Updates Vaccine Requirements (Including Florida Cruises)

The back and forth over vaccine requirements on cruises has been confusing for everyone involved, but day by day it is becoming clearer who will and won’t require the shot.

This morning Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley laid out exactly which sailings will require passengers to be vaccinated and which won’t, via a Facebook post.

At this point, all crew across all ships will be vaccinated. As for passengers, requirements  are a patchwork, with most ships sailing from ports outside of Florida requiring passengers to be vaccinated. Ships sailing from Florida — where a law is in place that doesn’t allow businesses to require the shot — will sail with a mix of passengers.

Michael Bayley Facebook post from Royal Caribbean

Bayley readily admits that things are complicated as ships do their best to return. Having state governments, federal agencies (CDC), cruise lines, and passengers all having opinions on what needs to happen makes it difficult — if not impossible — to please everyone. He also says that the policy is likely to change in the future.

To simplify what’s going to happen, Royal Caribbean will require the following:

  1. All crew will be vaccinated.
  2. The following ships require everyone 12+ years to be vaccinated:
    Adventure of the Seas (Nassau)
    Anthem of the Seas (Southampton)
    Jewel of the Seas (Cyprus)
    Serenade of the Seas (Seattle)
    Ovation of the Seas (Seattle)
    Independence of the Seas (Galveston)
    Harmony of the Seas (Barcelona)
    Oasis of the Seas (Bayonne, New Jersey)
  3. The following ships won’t require vaccines:
    Freedom of the Seas (Miami)
    Odyssey of the Seas (Port Everglades)
    Allure of the Seas (Port Canaveral)
    Symphony of the Seas (Miami)
    Mariner of the Seas (Port Canaveral)

A Way to Sail From Florida While Encouraging Vaccinations

What’s interesting about the announcement is how Royal Caribbean seems to have navigated Florida’s law surrounding proof of vaccination. With Florida being the cruise capital of the world, being able to sail safely from here is crucial for the cruise lines. For weeks, there has been growing tensions between the state government and some of the cruise industry.

In this case, it appears that Royal Caribbean found an elegant solution. Instead of requiring proof of vaccination, it now seems that passengers can sail without it, but they will need to be tested for COVID at their own expense before boarding. In addition, the cruise line is letting these passengers know they will be subject to additional health protocols. This likely means things like masks and social distancing on the ship.

Our understanding is that by giving passengers the chance to “opt out” of showing proof of the shot, they aren’t requiring it to sail. At the same time, by warning of additional rules and also charging for the test (kids can still get it for free), there is a strong incentive to simply sail vaccinated.

Interestingly, Royal Caribbean still plans to sail vaccinated cruises from Galveston, despite Texas passing a similar law to Florida that prohibits “vaccine passports.”

The Simplest Way to Sail

There’s no doubt that the rules are confusing — both for passengers and the cruise line. Different ships having different protocols and different rules that apply depending on where they sail from are no doubt causing headaches for everyone eager to get back to sailing.

At this time the simplest advice we can provide is to get vaccinated if you are eligible. It is by far the easiest way to make sure you can sail without any hiccups. As rules continue to change in the future for health requirements on all lines — not just Royal Caribbean — having the shot makes sure you can cruise no matter what happens.

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