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Royal Caribbean releases cruise ship health protocols for sailings through March 2022

In:
10 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has released its health protocols for cruise ships sailing in Winter 2021 for the longest period of time yet.

The new protocols apply to Royal Caribbean sailings from Puerto Rico, Barbados and U.S. homeports through March 31, 2022. 

Previously, Royal Caribbean was releasing health protocols only a month at a time.

Royal Caribbean added that it expects health protocols to change over time. Guidance for other ports and sailings is still in development with federal, state, and local authorities. 

These protocols govern the rules and requirements passengers can expect if they want to go on a cruise between now and March 31, 2022.

Vaccination

Celebrity Cruises will accept mixed vaccines following CDC update | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean will require all passengers who are 12 years and older to be fully vaccinated in order to sail.

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 prior to sailing.

For guests departing from Florida homeports, this vaccine requirement is the policy of several international governments for a cruise ship to enter their waters. 

Testing

Depending on where your ship departs from, the exact requirement for a pre-cruise test will vary:

Testing for sailings from U.S. Homeports 

  • Pre-Cruise: All guests 2 years and older must present a negative PCR or antigen test result.
  • Vaccinated guests ages 12 years and over, test must be taken no more than 2 days prior to sailing. Guests under the age of 12, who are considered fully vaccinated, should follow the guidance for vaccinated guests. 
    • Unvaccinated children ages 2 to 11 years, test must be taken no more than 3 days prior to sailing — but not on boarding day.
    • No testing required for guests under age 2 years.
    • Pre-cruise testing costs and scheduling are the guest's responsibility.
  • Embarkation Day: Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 years will take a complimentary PCR test for COVID-19 during check-in. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.
  • Onboard: Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 years will take a complimentary antigen test prior to debarking. Depending on sailing length, there may be additional testing. Registration details will be provided onboard.

Testing for sailings from San Juan, Puerto Rico

  • Entry to Puerto Rico:
    • All guests unvaccinated guests 2 years and older will need a PCR or antigen test for entry.
    • Guests arriving from non-US countries (regardless of vaccination status) will need a PCR or antigen test for entry.
    • Guests flying in or connecting should check the Puerto Rico’s entry rules.
  • Pre-Cruise
    • Vaccinated guests must present a negative PCR or antigen test result taken no more than 48 hours prior to sailing in order to board. If for any reason your clients can’t arrange this test prior to sailing, we have port testing available for scheduling here.
    • Unvaccinated children ages 2 to 11 years must present a negative PCR test result taken no more than 72 hours prior to sailing in order to board. There continues to be no testing required for guests under age 2.
    • 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.
  • 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 years are required to take an antigen test onboard within 24 hours before the cruise ends. Registration details will be provided during your cruise. This test is complimentary.
    • For re-entry into one's home country, guests may require proof of a negative COVID-19 test. If needed, we’ll offer complimentary testing on Day 5 or 6 of the cruise. Testing details will be provided onboard.
  • No testing is required for guests under age 2.

Vaccinations & Testing Requirements for sailings from Bridgetown, Barbados 

What you need to know about visiting Barbados on a cruise ship | Royal Caribbean Blog

Grandeur of the Seas will begin sailing from Barbados in December 2021, and it has its own set of protocols for sailings from here.

Due to the requirements of destinations on  Barbados itineraries, Royal Caribbean can only accept vaccines that are authorized by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Guests under the age of 12 years, who are considered fully vaccinated, should follow the guidance for vaccinated guests below. Children with one dose of a vaccine do not count as fully vaccinated for the purpose of our sailing. The only mixed MRNA vaccines accepted are combinations of Pfizer and Moderna.

  • Entry to Barbados: Guests must follow Barbados’ COVID-19 Travel Guidelines. All guests 5 years and older — regardless of vaccination status — must present a negative PCR test result taken no more than 3 days prior to arriving in Barbados. 
  • Pre-cruise: All unvaccinated guests 2 - 11 years old must present a negative PCR test result no more than 3 days prior to sailing. The PCR test used for entry satisfies this pre-cruise test requirement as long as its within 3 days of sailing date.
    • The PCR test used for entry satisfies this pre-cruise test requirement as long as its within 3 days of sailing date.
    • If PCR test results are older than 3 days, guests will have to secure their own PCR test while in Barbados.
    • The terminal antigen test does not satisfy unvaccinated guests’ pre-cruise testing requirement. 
    • Barbados does not accept telehealth home test kits for the entry test, even if the test is supervised by a live telehealth professional. No self testing method is accepted.
  • Pre-cruise testing costs and scheduling are the guest's responsibility.
  • At the terminal: All guests 2 and older — regardless of vaccination status — are required to take a complimentary embarkation day antigen test and receive a negative test result. Registration details will be sent via email in advance for the antigen test at the terminal.
    No testing required for guests under age 2
  • Prior to Disembarking: Guests 5 and older (regardless of vaccination status) planning to tour Barbados before making their way to the airport or enjoy an extended stay in Barbados shoreside, are required to undergo additional testing.
    • Guests that go directly to the airport, on their own or through an RCI tour, will not be required to undergo any testing onboard. 
  • For re-entry into your home country, guests may require proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Testing details and options will be provided onboard at guests' expense.

Shore Excursions

How to book a Royal Caribbean shore excursion | Royal Caribbean Blog

Families traveling with unvaccinated kids are required to purchase a tour through Royal Caribbean to go ashore (except at Perfect Day at CocoCay).

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 in November and December, regardless of their vaccination status: St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts, Antigua, Tobago, Trinidad, Grenada, Martinique, Dominica & St. Vincent. 

For Barbados
All guests on December sailings from Barbados will need to book a tour if they wish to go ashore in ports of call, regardless of vaccination status. 

Masks

Masks are required in the terminal, in select locations inside the ship, and may be required at various destinations.

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 Perfect Day at CocoCay, unless you are in a crowded setting
  • By any guest under the age of 2

CDC will require everyone to wear face masks on cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

Masks ARE required to be worn:

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

Your mask should be at least two layers of tight weave fabric with loops that fit over your ears in accordance with health guidelines. The mask should fit your face closely and cover your nose and mouth but allow you to breathe easily. Note that neck gaiters, open chin bandanas and scarves, and face masks with valves do not meet health authority guidelines and will not be permitted.

Dining

How to request your favorite foods be prepared in the main dining room on your Royal Caribbean cruise | 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. 

Email with protocols

Here is a full copy of the protocols shared by Royal Caribbean with travel agents.