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Royal Caribbean drops pre-cruise testing requirement for almost all cruises

02 Nov 2022
Matt Hochberg

With few exceptions, Royal Caribbean has dropped its pre-cruise testing requirements across the board.

Wonder of the Seas pool deck

Royal Caribbean sent out an update on Wednesday with new protocols that have removed the need to conduct a pre-cruise Covid-19 test, even if you are unvaccinated.

"Effective November 2, 2022, all travelers on U.S. sailings — regardless of vaccination status — will no longer require pre-departure testing (excludes sailings to Colombia, Haiti, & Honduras)." Cruises from Australia are also not included in this policy change.

Travel agents and guests were notified of the change in policy.

Prior to this change, unvaccinated guests had to take a Covid-19 test before their cruise. Fully vaccinated guests and guests ages 11 and younger are exempt.

Royal Caribbean recommends guests be fully vaccinated and boostered against Covid‐19. While vaccination is not required, they kindly ask passengers to disclose their vaccine status during check-in.

All guests welcome

A guest is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after the required number of doses in their vaccine series have been fully administered (e.g. 2 shots of Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, etc., or 1 shot of Johnson & Johnson). Vaccines must be approved for use by the WHO or U.S. FDA, with the exception of CanSino.

Pre-cruise testing remains for certain itineraries

Covid-19 antigen test

If your Royal Caribbean cruise visits Labadee, Roatan, or somewhere in Colombia, then unvaccinated will still need to test.

Guests age 12 and up who are not fully vaccinated have 3 days to take a test before their cruise, regardless the duration of the cruise.

Guests under the age of 12 do not have any testing requirements.

Accepted Tests

Guests can take advantage of in-person, telehealth, and self-swab tests. This includes unsupervised testing.

Proof of a negative test can be the printed or digital results, a clear photo of your self-test result, or your actual self-test in hand.

Another relaxation of policy

Oasis of the Seas in New York with Statue of Liberty

This is one of many changes in Royal Caribbean's approach to Covid-19, which has steadily seen health protocols erode in order to be closer to other forms of leisure travel. Airplanes, theme parks, casinos, and hotels no longer require any such Covid protocols and have not had any requirements for months.

Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty spoke about the change during an earnings call with investors earlier this year and said the change is a move to be more like other forms of leisure travel, such as theme parks, casinos, or air travel. 

"We are continuing to adapt our protocols to align more closely with how the rest of society and other travel and leisure businesses are operating."

"This means that we're transitioning to the point where everyone will be able to vacation with us while always working with our destination partners to meet their regulations."

When Royal Caribbean resumed cruises in 2021, Covid-19 protocols were a major component to the onboard experience.

Cruise ship docked in Miami

Since September 2022, all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, were able to cruise on most itineraries, as long as they meet testing requirements to board.

Since then, more itineraries opened up to unvaccinated cruisers.

Ship sailing

In the past when Royal Caribbean relaxed travel requirements, they've reinforced their ships are still a step ahead of other travel in terms of protocols, "We continue to maintain additional layers of protection that far exceed any other vacation experience. This includes vaccination of all crew and keeping them up to date with boosters when eligible, routine surveillance of all crew, enhanced testing and treatment capabilities in our onboard medical centers, and much more."

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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