After more than a year without cruising, people are excited about all the options for cruises sailing from US ports. Many of my friends, acquaintances, and clients have fallen into two groups one wondering if they’ll be able to sail unvaccinated, the other how the cruise lines could consider letting people sail unvaccinated. It’s a highly politicized question, passionately debated by both groups.
Which ever group you’re in, the most important detail you can take away from this post is: Royal Caribbean (and all the other cruise lines, too) have placed your health and safety and that of its crew at the top of the priority list. Every decision they’ve made has been with that in mind. So here is what you need to know about guests who wish to sail unvaccinated on Royal Caribbean.
One of the most appealing things about cruises is getting to explore and experience local culture at the different ports. To be able to get off the ship in ports, unvaccinated guests (including parents traveling with unvaccinated children) must book shore excursions directly through Royal Caribbean. Excursions may be purchased before the cruise using Royal’s Cruise Planner website or onboard with the app. The exception to this policy is if the cruise stops at CocoCay. All guests may visit the island with or without a shore excursion and enjoy a Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Onboard Freedom of the Seas: July, 2021
Royal Caribbean encourages everyone 16 years and older to be fully vaccinated and be able to prove their status. Guests 16 and older who are unable or unwilling to show documentation are still able to sail unvaccinated on Freedom of the Seas in July 2021. Unvaccinated guests will be required to have additional Covid-19 testing at their own expense. If this policy is unacceptable, Royal Caribbean will issue a refund.
Guests 2 years and older who choose to sail unvaccinated must undergo multiple Covid-19 tests. Royal Caribbean has contracted with licensed and accredited third-party testing providers which unvaccinated guests must register with (instructions will be sent via email to each guest). The cost for unvaccinated guests 16 years and older is $136 per guest which will be charged to the onboard expense account. Note: Royal Caribbean will cover the cost of required testing for guests 2-15 years old.
Prior to the cruise unvaccinated guests 16 years of age and older will need to undergo an RT-PCR test administered by an accredited laboratory of the guest’s choice, and taken no more than three days before sailing. Royal Caribbean will require documentation of a negative result for this test prior to embarkation. All costs for this test are the unvaccinated guest’s responsibility.
At check-in unvaccinated guests 2 years of age and older are required to take an RT-PCR test at the terminal, which will be administered by one of Royal Caribbean’s testing vendors. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.
Prior to Disembarking (while onboard), unvaccinated guests 2 years of age and older will be required to undergo antigen testing before disembarking at the end of the voyage. This test will be conducted the day before the cruise ends by one of Royal Caribbean’s testing vendors. Guests will be notified onboard about how to register for this test.
What will vacation be like for unvaccinated guests on Freedom of the Seas on July sailings?
Since the majority of guests will be vaccinated on Freedom of the Seas, there will be venues and events restricted to vaccinated guests only. With this in mind, Royal will be focused on creating opportunities for all guests to enjoy their time on board. Please note, your SeaPass card will be required to access lounges, shows and dining venues, so keep it handy at all times during your cruise.
Unvaccinated guests over 2 years old are required to wear masks indoors unless seated and actively eating or drinking. Masks are not required in staterooms, when with your traveling party, outdoors, or at Perfect Day at CocoCay, unless in a crowded setting.
Venues will be set up with proper spacing and guests will be asked to abide by physical distancing, especially when interacting with those outside of their traveling party.
All dining venues will offer spaced seating. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made via Cruise Planner before the cruise or the Royal Caribbean app onboard. The main dining room will have designated areas for vaccinated and unvaccinated guests to dine separately. My Time Dining will not be available to unvaccinated guests. The Windjammer will be open but food will be served by crew members.
Entertainment venues will offer spaced seating and more showtimes throughout each sailing. Select showtimes will be for vaccinated guests only, and others will welcome both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests. More information will be provided onboard. Be sure to make show reservations once onboard using the Royal Caribbean app.
If you have questions about Royal Caribbean’s policies or want to discuss your next vacation, call Joel (844-483-6669). Prefer to shop online? Browse deals and book online at JJTravelAssociates.com where you get the best of both worlds: great deals and a dedicated travel advisor to assist you every step of the way.