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Royal Caribbean adds COVID-19 into cruise contract for all passengers

16 Feb 2021
Matt Hochberg

The contract you agree to when you book a cruise now includes additional disclosures regarding COVID-19.

Royal Caribbean has updated its Cruise Contract with new language related to the current global health crisis at some point in the last few months.

Section 4 of the contract used to cover simply "medical care and other personal services" has been updated to now cover "public health, COVID-19 policies and procedures, knowing acceptance of the risks".

What is a cruise contract?

If you have been on a cruise before, you have agreed to plenty of other protocols and policies through Royal Caribbean's cruise contract.

Every cruise line includes this as part of the agreement you make when you book a cruise.  

Upon placing a deposit, Royal Caribbean adds a check box to indicate the guest has read through the Cruise Contract and agrees to everything inside.

Airlines also have something similar, known as the Conditions of Carriage, that cover almost every scenario a passenger can encounter to clearly indicate expectations of rules and penalties for violating those rules.

Here's what the revised section includes:

Recommended Consultation with Personal Physician

Passengers are encouraged to discuss going on a cruise ship for travel with their personal physicians and to review the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) website for updated

Further, the passengers acknowledges, understands and accepts the risk of contracting COVID-19, influenza and/or Norovirus while on the ship, in the terminal, or on shore.

Furthermore, guests understand that there is a limitation in what Royal Caribbean can do to limit exposure and that that all risk cannot be eliminated.

"Passenger knowingly and voluntarily accepts these risks as part of this ticket contract, including the Risk of serious illness or death arising from such exposures, and/or all related damages, loss, costs And expenses of any nature whatsoever."

Agreement to Abide by Current COVID-19 Policies and Procedures

Passengers agree to comply with Royal Caribbean's health protocols at all times including pre-embarkation, while onboard, during port calls and shore excursions and/or final disembarkation.

These health policies are subject to change based on guidance and directives from established health authorities in the U.S. and other destinations where the Vessel
visits, including the CDC.

"Passenger’s agreement to abide by Carrier’s COVID-19 Policies and Procedures constitutes an integral part of this Ticket Contract."

COVID-19 Policies and Procedures

Royal Caribbean lists some (but not all) of the health policies to expect to follow:

  1. Providing an accurate, truthful and complete health questionnaire in a form and containing any and all health or travel-related questions as required by Carrier in its sole discretion, for each Passenger prior to boarding
  2. Pre-embarkation and/or periodic testing and temperature checks of each Passenger
  3. Modified capacity rules for activities (including but not limited to restaurants, gyms, and entertainment events onboard and for shore excursions) which may limit or eliminate the ability of Passenger to participate in particular activities
  4. Mandatory use by each Passenger (except where medically contraindicated) of face coverings in most locations outside of the Passenger’s cabin while onboard, during embarkation, disembarkation and shore excursions
  5. Mandatory social distancing of Passengers at any/all times while on board and during embarkation, disembarkation, and shore excursions
  6. Additional restrictions during shore excursions depending on local conditions, including but not limited to denial of disembarkation at destinations unless participating in only Carrier-approved shore excursions
  7. Mandatory hand sanitizing by Passenger upon entry or exit of any public areas
  8. Confinement of Passengers to cabins, quarantine or emergency disembarkation of Passenger if, in Carrier’s sole discretion, such steps are necessary to prevent or slow the spread of COVID-19
  9. The required completion by Passenger in a timely manner of any written authorizations or consent forms required for Carrier to carry out its COVID-19 Policies and Procedures (including but not limited to medical information, medical privacy, or personal data privacy consent forms)
  10. Other policies and procedures deemed by Carrier in its sole discretion to be necessary to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19

Mandatory Compliance with COVID-19 Policies and Procedures

This section deals with noncompliance and ensuring everyone is following the rules onboard.

"Any noncompliance by Passenger or members of Passenger’s travelling party with Carrier’s COVID-19 Policies and Procedures or this Ticket Contract shall be grounds for refusal to board, refusal to reboard after going ashore, quarantine onboard the Vessel, disembarkation, reporting to governmental or health authorities, or other steps deemed necessary in Carrier’s sole discretion under the circumstances to protect the health and well-being of others."

If someone violates one of the COVID-19 Policies and Procedures, it is grounds for the passenger to not receive a refund or compensation of any kind.

Passenger will be responsible for all related costs and fines, including without limitation travel expenses and for proper travel documentation for any port, or for departure from or arrival to Passenger’s country of residence.

Passenger Testing Positive for COVID-19 Pre-Cruise

Within 14 days of the cruise beginning, if a passenger tests positive for COVID-19, exhibits signs or symptoms of COVID-19, has had close contact with a person confirmed or suspected as having COVID-19, Royal Caribbean reserves the right to deny boarding to that person.

In such a a situation, any passenger denied boarding because of a known or suspected infection with COVID-19 will be entitled to a refund or future cruise credit equal in value to the Cruise Fare Passenger paid to Royal Caribbean.

Passenger Testing Positive for COVID-19 During Cruise

If you test positive for COVID-19 or exhibit symptoms, Royal Caribbean may disembark, refuse re-boarding after a shore excursion, or quarantine Passenger as well as members of Passenger’s traveling party, or take other steps which Carrier determines, in its sole discretion, are necessary under the circumstances to protect the health and well-being of others. 

If that were to occur, you are entitled to a prorated refund or future cruise credit for the unused portion of the Cruise Fare.

Each such Passenger is responsible for all other related costs and fines, including without limitation travel expenses.

Old cruise contract language from November 2020

New cruise contract language from February 2021

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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