RCI-Royal Caribbean dropped its mask requirement for vaccinated passengers as of Friday, February 25.
Masks are now optional for fully vaccinated guests sailing from U.S. ports, but the cruise line has also updated protocols for the crew which went into effect for new sailings, starting February 25.
Passengers still need masks while boarding the ship. Cruise ship terminals are federal transportation hubs that require masks.
Cruise ships now operate under new voluntary guidelines issued by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) instead of the Center's previous, mandatory Conditional Sail Order.
And under the new rule, cruise companies can opt into having mostly-vaccinated voyages. These require that 95% of crew members and passengers be vaccinated. That is not an issue with the crew: RCI-Royal Caribbean, CCL-Carnival Cruise Line, and NCL-Norwegian Cruise Line have been using 100% vaccinated crews. It should not change much for guests since vaccinations have been required on most sailings since cruising returned to U.S. ports in July last year.
The new protocols for crew feature easing restrictions in the Food & Beverage Crew Areas, crew shore leave, masks policy, and quarantine policy.
Royal Caribbean hinted that the true return to normal, including bringing back beloved onboard activities, might happen soon.