Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

Royal Caribbean releases cruise ship health protocols for U.S. sailings October 1-15, 2021

13 Sep 2021
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has released its health protocols for cruises departing the United States for at least the first half of October.

Travel agents received an update from Royal Caribbean with the health rules to protect guests and crew members from Covid, which the cruise line calls "proven protocols".

These protocols apply to any Royal Caribbean cruise ship sailing from a U.S. homeport between October 1-15, 2021.

Here is the list of protocols for early October sailings:

First look photos around newly delivered Odyssey of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog


All guests 12 years and older must bring proof of vaccination, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 vaccination record card, with the final dose of the vaccine completed at least 14 days before sailing.


Two cruise lines shorten the window of time to get a pre-cruise Covid test | Royal Caribbean Blog

All Guests

Required Pre-Cruise Testing: Guests will need to meet the new requirements recently issued by the U.S. CDC.

Vaccinated guests 12 years and older are required to present a negative COVID-19 Test Result (antigen or PCR) for a test taken no more than 2 days prior to the sailing's departure date and before their arrival to the terminal.

Royal Caribbean recommends guests use the at-home test they recently approved for use and now sell directly to passengers via

Royal Caribbean now selling at-home Covid tests for cruise ship passengers | Royal Caribbean Blog

Unvaccinated guests 2 to 11 years old are required to present a negative PCR Test Result for COVID-19 (antigen test are not accepted for children) for a test taken no more than 3 days prior to your sailing's departure date and before your arrival to the terminal.

Proper documentation (printed negative test results or negative test results presented on your phone) from an accredited laboratory (no doctor’s notes) is required to sail. All costs for this test are the guest's responsibility and must be done on their own, not at the terminal.

Kids Age 2-11 Years: Additional Testing

When do you have to take a Covid test before your Royal Caribbean cruise? | Royal Caribbean Blog

In addition to the pre-cruise test, kids will take one or two more tests. 

At the Terminal:  Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 years are required to take a PCR test for COVID-19 when checking in at the terminal. Registration details for this test will be sent via email in advance. This test is complimentary.

Prior to Disembarking: For sailings 5 nights or longer, unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 years are required to take an antigen test onboard within 24 hours before the cruise ends. Registration details will be provided during the cruise. This test is complimentary.

Guests under 2 years of age will not be tested.


Royal Caribbean releases Alaska cruise ship protocols for August sailings | Royal Caribbean Blog

Wearing of masks applies to all guests, except for guests under the age of 2 years old, who do not need to wear a mask.

Masks are NOT required to be worn:

  • In open-air areas of the ship, unless you are in a crowded setting
  • In the pool or any activity where they may become wet
  • At venues designated for vaccinated guests only, such as select bars, lounges, restaurants and shows
  • In your stateroom with your traveling party

Spotted: Royal Caribbean charging to reserve pool deck casitas on Odyssey of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Masks ARE required to be worn:

  • While indoors in public areas of the ship, unless seated and actively eating or drinking
  • While visiting public ports of call, where local regulations may require them


Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Sea Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

For Main Dining, Royal Caribbean will designate areas for everyone, including parents and unvaccinated children, and areas for vaccinated parties only.

My Time Dining will not be available to parties that include unvaccinated guests. Some specialty restaurants will be open to everyone, while others will be for vaccinated parties only. 

Other venues

CDC wants cruise lines to reconsider mask policies on cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

The ship’s venues are set up to easily allow for physical distancing and there will be signage to guide passengers.

Theaters and activity venues will offer spaced seating with options for everyone and for vaccinated guests only. 


If booked guests do not wish to follow these protocols and are booked on a cruise sailing in early October, Royal Caribbean will offer a refund or move their sailing into the future when circumstances may have evolved. 

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.

Get our newsletter

Stay up-to-date with cruise news & advice

    We never share your information with third parties and will protect it in accordance with our Privacy Policy