Late last month, Royal Caribbean (RCI) announced several initiatives and protocols as part of its cruising restart.
For example, for unvaccinated guests, RCI said that it now required travel insurance for Florida sailings.
Unvaccinated passengers booked on cruises sailing from Florida ports between 1st August through 31st December, 2021 will be required to get medical expense and evacuation insurance that covers a positive case.
RCI said that as a condition of boarding, each unvaccinated guest of 12 years and over must provide proof of a valid insurance policy that has a minimum of (a) $25,000 per person in medical expense coverage and (b) $50,000 per person for quarantine and medical evacuation related to a positive COVID-19 test result.
The insurance policy must name the unvaccinated guest as the policy holder or beneficiary, and may be purchased from a travel insurance company of the guest’s choosing or through the Royal Caribbean Travel Protection Programme, which includes the requisite coverage.
This move was mainly as a result of Florida signing a law that prohibits businesses, schools, and government agencies from requiring people to show documentation certifying Covid-19 vaccinations or post-infection recovery before gaining entry.
In addition to requiring travel insurance, unvaccinated guests of 12 years old and over are required to pay for third-party Covid-19 tests, which will cost $136 per guest on sailings of six nights or less, and $178 per guest on sailings of seven nights or more.
For guests aged two to 11, RCI will cover the cost of any required testing.
The first RCI cruise ship to sail from Florida was the ‘Freedom of the Seas’ on 2nd July, although more ships will begin sailing from the state later this summer. By the end of August, five Royal Caribbean cruise ships will be sailing from Florida, the cruise operator said.
Thus far, RCI has only released full protocols for ‘Freedom of the Seas’ sailings from Miami, where unvaccinated passengers have to wear masks at all times while inside, unless actively eating or drinking.
Vaccinated passengers were issued wristbands that show they are vaccinated and allow them access to vaccinated-only venues and events. Passengers who are unvaccinated had a hole punched in their SeaPass cards.
All passengers will have to show their SeaPass cards to access lounges, shows and dining venues on the ship.
Late last month, ‘Freedom of the Seas’ (pictured) received a Conditional Sailing Certificate from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to offer revenue cruises with paying passengers.
‘Freedom of the Seas’ has completed her test cruise, which was a three day, two night simulated voyage to Perfect Day at Coco Cay.
Since RCI will not require at least 95% of its cruise passengers to be fully vaccinated, test cruises are needed to demonstrate to the CDC that the on board health protocols work.
All of the ships crew were fully vaccinated.
RCI has also received CDC approval to start a test cruise on ‘Oasis of the Seas’ between 22nd and 28th August, in addition to ‘Freedom of the Seas’, ‘Allure of the Seas’, ‘Odyssey of the Seas’, and ‘Symphony of the Seas’ receiving their approvals.
‘Oasis of the Seas’ test cruise will sail from Cape Liberty, Bayonne (NJ).
Later RCI updated the list of forthcoming simulated voyages that will sail with volunteers:
- ‘Allure of the Seas’ – July 27 from Port Canaveral,
- ‘Symphony of the Seas’ – Aug 1 from PortMiami,
- ‘Independence of the Seas’ – Aug 1 from Galveston,
- ‘Mariner of the Seas’ – Aug 11 from Port Canaveral,
- ‘Serenade of the Seas’ – July 7 from Seattle,
- ‘Oasis of the Seas’ – Aug 22 from Cape Liberty (NJ).
“Royal Caribbean is pursuing one of two pathways, laid out by the CDC, to get back to cruising,” the company said in a statement.
“It requires that US-based ships conduct simulation cruises to test health and safety protocols if the cruise line expects to return to sailing with less than 95% fully vaccinated guests or crew.
“As a family brand, Royal Caribbean typically sees that children under the age of 12 make up 10% of our guests on board, and today, they are ineligible for the vaccine. We are committed to continuing to deliver memorable family vacations, and it is why we are conducting simulation sailings,” the company said.