Hours after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an extension of the Conditional Sailing Order, Royal Caribbean released its health protocols for cruises departing the United States in November 2021.
Guests booked on November cruises received an email with the health rules they can expect if sailing on a cruise ship in November.
Protocols have been released for ships sailing from the United States, as well a separate policy for ships sailing from Puerto Rico. You should, refer to Royal Caribbean's protocols online.
Here is the list of protocols for ships sailing from the United States (excluding Puerto Rico), including government mandates and CDC pre-cruise testing requirements.
All guests 12 and older must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before sailing.
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.
Unvaccinated kids age 2 to 11 must show a negative test result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 3 days before boarding day. Kids’ pre-cruise test cannot be taken on boarding day, because that may affect the sample taken during the kids’ test at the terminal.
No testing required for guests under age 2.
Pre-cruise tests are at the expense of the guest sailing, as well as scheduling.
Royal Caribbean recommends guests use the at-home test they recently approved for use and now sell directly to passengers via RoyalCaribbean.com/HomeTestKit
Kids Age 2-11 Years: Additional Testing
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: Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 will take a complimentary antigen test prior to debark. Depending on sailing length, there may be additional testing. Registration details will be provided onboard.
Guests under 2 years of age will not be tested.
Masks are required in the terminal, in select locations inside the ship, and may be required at various destinations. Guests under 2 years old don’t need 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 when you are with your traveling party.
- While visiting our private destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, unless you are in a crowded setting.
- By any guest under the age of 2.
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.
Some venues and nightlife events will be for vaccinated guests age 12 and up, only. Masks won't be required in these venues. Vaccinated parents are invited to enjoy these experiences while their kids not present.
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.
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 and more showtimes. Some activities, showtimes, or seating areas will be reserved for vaccinated guests only.
The Fitness Center has operating hours for everyone as well as hours reserved for vaccinated guests only.
Spa services, except those offered in treatment rooms, are available to everyone.
Fully vaccinated parties may book a shore excursion or visit most ports freely — with the exception of those listed below, which will require tours for all guests who wish to go ashore, regardless of their vaccination status.
- St. Lucia (November visits)
- Barbados (November visits)
- St. Kitts (November visits)
- Antigua (November visits)
Families traveling with unvaccinated kids must purchase a local tour through Royal Caribbean if they wish to go ashore. This applies to all ports of call except Perfect Day at CocoCay, and Port Canaveral, Florida.
Cruises from Puerto Rico
Explorer of the Seas is scheduled to restart cruises from San Juan, Puerto Rico in November and there are slightly different protocols for these sailings.
I've noted the major differences for cruises from Puerto Rico, but otherwise the same protocols for U.S. sailings apply.
For guests above the age of 2, Puerto Rico requires a negative PCR or antigen Covid-19 test result for certain travelers to enter depending on their vaccination status and point of origin.
If you’re flying in from the U.S.
- Vaccinated guests have no testing requirement to enter Puerto Rico.
- Unvaccinated kids age 2 to 11 must show a negative result for a PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours prior to arriving at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan.
If you’re flying in from an international country
- All travelers age 2 and up, regardless of vaccination status, must show a negative result for a PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours prior to arriving at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan.
If you are already in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico does not require a test from you.
To board the ship, you will need to bring a negative PCR or antigen test result to the cruise terminal. It can be the same result you used to enter Puerto Rico, provided you time it right.
- Vaccinated guests age 12 and older must show a negative result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 2 days before boarding day.
- Unvaccinated kids age 2 to 11 must show a negative test result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 3 days before boarding day. Kids’ pre-cruise test cannot be taken on boarding day, because that may affect the sample taken during the kids’ test at the terminal.
- Guests under 2 years of age do not need to complete a pre-cruise test.
Kids Age 2-11 Years: Additional Testing
In addition to the pre-cruise test, unvaccinated kids will take two more tests. Royal Caribbean’s test provider will administer these, at no cost to guests.
At the Terminal
Kids will take a complimentary PCR test when checking in at the terminal. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.
Prior to Disembarking
Kids will take a complimentary antigen test onboard before the cruise ends. Vaccinated guests who require a COVID-19 test for re-entry into their country may receive one onboard as well. Guests will be notified onboard about how to register for this test.
Guests under 2 years of age do not have test requirements to board the ship.