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Royal Caribbean releases health protocols for first U.S. cruise ship sailing

17 Jun 2021
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has announced to guests booked on its first cruise ship to restart cruises from the U.S. what health protocols and requirements they can expect.

Currently, this information only pertains to Freedom of the Seas sailings out of Miami in July 2021.

Freedom of the Seas will restart cruises from Miami with short sailings to The Bahamas.

The new protocols cover vaccinations, testing, masks and more.


As previously stated, Royal Caribbean recommends all guests 16 and older be fully vaccinated.

At check-in, guests will be asked to provide documentation of their vaccination, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. Those who are 16 and older and do not have or are unable to provide documentation will be considered unvaccinated.

Unvaccinated guests must undergo additional COVID-19 testing at their own expense, and follow the health protocols described below, which are based on guidance from the CDC.

Someone that does not wish to undergo or pay for additional testing, or adhere to these health and safety protocols, can ask for a refund.


All unvaccinated guests must undergo multiple COVID-19 tests.

Testing at the terminal prior to embarkation and onboard prior to disembarkation will be conducted by licensed and accredited third-party testing providers we have contracted.

Unvaccinated guests must register for this testing and agree to the third-party testing provider terms and conditions. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.

The total charge from the third-party testing vendor for these tests is $136. This amount will be applied to the guest’s onboard expense account.

Royal Caribbean will pay the testing vendor(s) on the guest’s behalf and will not retain any part of the testing costs.

For children not yet eligible to be vaccinated, we will cover the cost of any required testing.

Here are the testing requirements for unvaccinated guests during 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 within three days of 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 the Terminal  

Unvaccinated guests 2 years of age and older are required to take an RT-PCR test when checking in at the terminal, which will be administered by one of our 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 within 24 hours of disembarking at the end of the voyage.

This test will be conducted the day before the cruise ends by one of our testing vendors. Guests will be notified onboard about how to register for this test.

Face Masks

Unlike Adventure of the Seas from The Bahamas, face masks will be required by guests in certain situations onboard.

Vaccinated and unvaccinated guests are required to wear masks indoors unless:

  • Seated and actively eating or drinking
  • Masks are not required in your stateroom when you are with your traveling party, outdoors, or at Perfect Day at CocoCay, unless in a crowded setting
  • Guests under the age of 2 do not need to wear a mask

Royal Caribbean said they are expecting updated guidance from the CDC on mask policies for vaccinated guests and will provide an update.

Vaccinated venues

Royal Caribbean will designate certain venues (bars, lounges, restaurants and entertainment) or events as only for vaccinated guests only. At those locations, masks wont be required.

Your SeaPass card will be required to access lounges, shows and dining venues.

Vaccinated guests will receive a wristband and those who are unvaccinated (or choose not to disclose if they are) will have a hole punched in their SeaPass card.

For unvaccinated guests, there will still be entertainment and options open to them, but there will be some options, such as late night entertainment, for vaccinated guests.  

Select showtimes will be for vaccinated guests and others for vaccinated and unvaccinated guests.

In the Main Dining Room, there will be designated areas for vaccinated and unvaccinated reservations to dine separately.

My Time Dining will not be available to unvaccinated guests. 

Physical Distancing

Venues will be set up with proper spacing and Royal Caribbean asks guests to abide by physical distancing, especially when interacting with those outside of your traveling party.

Shore Excursions

All guests are subject to restrictions and requirements as defined by local authorities in the ports we visit. Details will be provided onboard.

According to the cruise line, it is reasonable to expect that unvaccinated guests will be subject to stricter protocols than vaccinated guests. 

Full protocols

Here is the letter Royal Caribbean has sent to its guests booked on the ship.

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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