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Royal Caribbean will accept certificate of covid recovery instead of pre-cruise test

10 Mar 2022
Chantal McPhee

Good news for Royal Caribbean guests who have recovered from Covid-19. The cruise line has updated its health protocols for sailings from March 11, 2022, onward to better accommodate them.

Independence of the Seas aerial view birds eye

In an email to guests and travel agents yesterday, Royal Caribbean issued new health protocols that apply to all cruises sailing from the U.S., with the exception of Puerto Rico.

Guests sailing out of these ports will now have the option to submit a Certificate of Recovery if they have had Covid-19 at least 11 days before sailing, however, some restrictions do apply.

Here's a look at the latest protocols.

Certificate of Recovery

As part of updated testing requirements, Royal Caribbean has added new guidelines for those guests who have previously contracted Covid 19.

For sailings from the United States (except Puerto Rico), on or after March 11, 2022, a Certificate of Recovery will be accepted for a positive COVID-19 case at least 11 days before boarding, but no more than 90 days ago.

This would take the place of a pre-cruise negative Covid-19 test result required to board the ship. Guests will need to provide the following documents:  

  1. A certified medical health certificate from a doctor stating that the guest has fully recovered from Covid-19, and must adhere to the following requirements:
    • Official letterhead from a healthcare provider, public health official or telehealth provider showing:
      • Their name
      • Their address
      • Their phone number
      • Confirmation of your recovery and completion of isolation 
    • Must be typed (not handwritten) and signed by the provider
    • Must confirm the sample collection date of the positive PCR test, which must be a minimum of 11 days and a maximum of 90 days before the departure date of your cruise
    • Date of validity must extend throughout the duration of your cruise
  2. A positive result document for a COVID-19 PCR test taken a minimum of 11 days and a maximum of 90 days before the departure date of your cruise. An antigen test result will not be accepted with a Certificate of Recovery.  Also:
    • The test results document from your test provider must include the name of the lab that processed the test, the lab’s CLIA Lab Number or Certification Number, the address of the lab, your name, the date the test was taken, type of test, and your positive result.
    • This can be a printed document, email, or telehealth app notification. Fully handwritten doctor’s notes (such as those written on a prescription pad) will not be accepted. Minimal handwritten components (such as a check mark on a “positive” box) are acceptable as long as the other required information is printed on the document.

Restrictions and Limitations

Royal Caribbean is careful to note that a Certificate of Recovery will not be accepted in lieu of a vaccination record card for guests of vaccine eligible age. All Royal Caribbean guests aged 12 and older must present proof of full COVID-19 vaccination with the final dose of their vaccine administered at least 14 days before sailing

Although Royal Caribbean will accept a Certificate of Recover that meets all of the noted requirements, many countries are not currently accepting them. In these ports, guests who provided certificates would not be allowed to disembark.

. These ports include:

  • Curacao
  • St. Kitts
  • Panama
  • Panama Canal
  • Jamaica
  • Bonaire
  • Belize
  • St. Lucia
  • Guatemala
  • Colombia
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • St. Vincent
  • the Grenadines
  • Grenada
  • Haiti
  • Cayman Islands
  • Bermuda

International use of Certificate of Recovery

As reported in September of 2021, Royal Caribbean had previously allowed guests who had recovered from Covid-19, to submit recovery letters for departures outside of the United States.

At that time, guests were required to produce a certificate that verified that either the guest was diagnosed with Covid-19 within the 90 days prior to their sail date or that they were sailing before the end date noted on the Certificate of Recovery.

New protocols for Mediterranean sailings for spring and summer 2022 have yet to be released. 

Existing Guidelines and Protocols

Cruise ship in Grand Cayman

The update from Royal Caribbean does not note any other significant changes to protocols for U.S. Sailings. The main requirements:

Vaccination requirements

The same vaccine requirements remain in place. They are:

  • All guests 12 and older must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before sailing.
  • Children aged 5 to 11 are not required to be vaccinated, however, as they are eligible, Royal Caribbean recommends they receive their vaccine before sailing.
  • Children with one dose of a vaccine do not count as fully vaccinated for the purpose of sailing. 

Although not currently required by Royal Caribbean the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended Covid-19 vaccine booster doses for those eligible, prior to cruise travel.

Royal Caribbean, "strongly recommends" guests get boosted before their cruise.

Pre-cruise testing

Other existing Covid-19 testing rules remain unchanged:

Cruises from U.S. homeports (except Puerto Rico)

  • Pre-Cruise: All guests 2 years and older must present a negative COVID-19 test result.
    • Vaccinated guests ages 12 years and over must take a PCR or antigen test no more than 2 days prior to sailing.
    • Unvaccinated children ages 2 to 11 years must take a PCR test no more than 3 days prior to sailing. A test may not be taken on boarding day.
    • Antigen tests are not accepted for unvaccinated guests.
    • There is no testing required for guests under age 2.
    • Pre-cruise testing costs and scheduling are the guest's responsibility.  

Embarkation Day: Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 will take a complimentary antigen test for Covid-19 during check-in. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.

Onboard: For sailings that are 5 nights or longer, unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 will take a complimentary antigen test prior to debarkation. Sailings longer than 10 nights may have additional onboard testing requirements. Registration details will be provided onboard.

Face masks

Masks are optional for fully vaccinated guests. 

Unvaccinated children should expect to continue wearing masks indoors and in crowded settings.

Masks are required for all children aged 2 and older while at the Adventure Ocean youth program. Guests under 2 do not have to wear a mask at any time. Royal Caribbean asks that guests make a reservation before bringing their child to Adventure Ocean

Dining and other venues

Royal Caribbean no longer has designated vaccinated zones for eating and other onboard venues such as the theatre, spa and gym.  

Royal Caribbean recommends making reservations for dining before the cruise or via the app while onboard.

The cruise line has already discontinued the use of bracelets to identify vaccinated guests in venues.

Shore excursions

Wonder of the Seas in Labadee

Families traveling with unvaccinated kids are required to purchase a tour through Royal Caribbean to go ashore with the exception of private destinations such as  Perfect Day at CocoCay and Labadee.

Some ports require all guests, regardless of vaccination status, to purchase tours through Royal Caribbean. These tours follow Royal Caribbean’s health guidance and are available at a variety of prices. 

As noted previously, guests who have submitted a Certificate of Recovery in lieu of a pre-departure negative Covid-19 test may not be eligible to disembark in some ports.