RCI-Royal Caribbean drops COVID vaccine requirement for certain cruises

   August 11, 2022 ,   Cruise Industry

RCI-Royal Caribbean International announced it will not require its passengers to be fully COVID-vaccinated on select voyages beginning September 2022.

Up until now, only unvaccinated passengers under the age of 12 were allowed on RCI ships.

Departures starting on September 5th, passengers regardless of their vaccination status can sail on the following itineraries, as long as they meet testing requirements to board: 

  • voyages from Los Angeles California
  • voyages from Galveston Texas (currently, only passengers that show a valid COVID vaccination record can get off the ship in Grand Cayman)
  • voyages from New Orleans Louisiana (currently, only passengers that show a valid COVID vaccination record can get off the ship in Grand Cayman)
  • European voyages (passengers who are not “up to date” on their COVID vaccination per EMA standards need to take a test onboard in order to get off the cruise ship in Greece & Spain)

COVID vaccination requirements remain in place for any homeport not mentioned above until further notice. 

RCI said it was working to allow unvaccinated guests on other sailings, but they needed to coordinate with other countries first.

Missing from the list are voyages that visit destinations in The Bahamas/Eastern Caribbean.

Following are the pre-arrival COVID testing requirements for the cruises that allow unvaccinated guests onboard:

Los Angeles and Galveston departures:

  • itineraries 5 nights/less: unvaccinated passengers aged 2+ years must present a negative COVID test result taken within 3 days of the sailing; vaccinated passengers, regardless of their age, no longer have to test for cruising lengths of 5 nights/less. 
  • itineraries 6 nights/more: all passengers aged 2+ years, regardless of their vaccination status, have to present a negative COVID test result taken within 3 days of the sailing.
  • accepted tests include any FDA‐approved PCR/antigen test supervised in person/by a telehealth professional to meet the requirement.

European itineraries: COVID testing requirements remain unchanged.

New Orleans departures: COVID testing requirements haven't been finalized.

Celebrity Cruises announced it will also allow unvaccinated guests onboard. Beginning September 5th, all tourists, regardless of their vaccination status, can sail on the following voyages as long as they meet any COVID testing requirements to board:

  • All voyages departing from Europe and the UK (with the exception of Iceland)
  • All voyages departing from LA to Mexican Riviera.

For all other cruises (and those departing before September 5), the old restrictions apply.

Wonder Of The Seas cruise ship

RCI's announcement follows other cruise companies that have already relaxed their COVID vaccine restrictions.

NCL-Norwegian Cruise Line also announced it would end its COVID vaccine requirement. Beginning September 3, travelers that are 12+ years of age who are unvaccinated/do not show proof of COVID vaccination will be allowed onboard as long as they can show the results of a negative antigen/PCR test taken in the 72 hours prior to boarding. Kids under 12 will have no testing/vaccination requirements. Norwegian's policy also applies to sister brands Oceania and RSSC-egent Seven Seas. The company's rule change is subject to certain local guidelines, so voyages visiting Bermuda, Canada, or Greece will still require adults to be vaccinated for COVID.

Princess Cruises will also start welcoming a small number of unvaccinated adults onboard its ships. Princess said it would allow up to 10% of unvaccinated passengers on most voyages without exemptions or vaccine status justification. Unvaccinated guests must apply on a first-come, first-served basis. They will need to notify the reservations team at the time of booking to ensure they are counted as part of the 10% threshold.  

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