In a letter, Royal Caribbean has told guests what health protocols and requirements they can expect when booked on its first ship to restart US operations.
These relate to ‘Freedom of the Seas’ (pictured) sailing from Miami next month when she will undertake short trips to the Bahamas.
The new protocols cover vaccinations, testing, masks, etc.
Vaccines – Royal Caribbean recommended that all guests of 16 and older be fully vaccinated.
At check-in, guests will be asked to provide documentation of their vaccination, such as the US CDC)’s COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card.
Those who are 16 and older and do not have or are unable to provide documentation will be considered unvaccinated.
Unvaccinated guests must undergo additional COVID-19 testing at their own expense, and follow the health protocols described below, which are based on guidance from the CDC.
Anyone that does not wish to undergo or pay for additional testing, or adhere to these health and safety protocols, can ask for a refund.
Testing – All unvaccinated guests must undergo multiple COVID-19 tests.
Testing at the terminal prior to embarkation and on board prior to disembarkation will be conducted by licensed and accredited third-party testing providers that RCI has contracted.
Unvaccinated guests must register for this testing and agree to the third-party testing provider terms and conditions. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.
The total charge from the third-party testing vendor for these tests is $136. This amount will be added to the guest’s on board expense account.
RCI will pay the testing vendor(s) on the guest’s behalf and will not retain any part of the testing costs.
For children not yet eligible to be vaccinated, the company will cover the cost of any required testing.
Testing requirements for unvaccinated guests during the cruise are:
Pre-Cruise – Unvaccinated guests 16 years of age and older will need to undergo an RT-PCR test administered by an accredited laboratory of the guest’s choice, and taken within three days of sailing.
RCI will require documentation of a negative result for this test prior to embarkation. All costs for this test are the unvaccinated guest’s responsibility.
At the terminal – Unvaccinated guests two years of age and older are required to take an RT-PCR test when checking in at the terminal, which will be administered by one of the testing vendors. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.
Prior to Disembarking – While on board, unvaccinated guests two years of age and older will be required to undergo antigen testing within 24 hours of disembarking at the end of the voyage.
This test will be conducted the day before the cruise ends by one of the testing vendors. Guests will be notified on board about how to register for this test.
Face Masks – Unlike ‘Adventure of the Seas’ from The Bahamas, face masks will be required by guests in certain situations on board.
Vaccinated and unvaccinated guests are required to wear masks indoors unless:
- seated and actively eating or drinking;
- masks are not required in a stateroom when with a travelling party, outdoors, or at Perfect Day at CocoCay, unless in a crowded setting;
- guests under the age of two do not need to wear a mask.
RCI said they were expecting updated guidance from the CDC on mask policies for vaccinated guests and will pass this on.
Vaccinated venues – RCI will designate certain venues (bars, lounges, restaurants and entertainment) or events, as only for vaccinated guests only. At those locations, masks won’t be required.
A SeaPass card will be required to access lounges, shows and dining venues.
Vaccinated guests will receive a wristband and those who are unvaccinated (or choose not to disclose if they are) will have a hole punched in their SeaPass card.
For unvaccinated guests, there will still be entertainment and options open to them, but there will be some options, such as late night entertainment, for vaccinated guests.
Select showtimes will be for vaccinated guests and others for vaccinated and unvaccinated guests.
In the Main Dining Room, there will be designated areas for vaccinated and unvaccinated reservations to dine separately.
My Time Dining will not be available to unvaccinated guests.
Physical Distancing – Venues will be set up with proper spacing and RCI has asked guests to abide by physical distancing, especially when interacting with those outside of a travelling party.
Shore Excursions – All guests are subject to restrictions and requirements as defined by local authorities in the ports visited. Details will be provided on board.
According to the RCI’s blog, it is reasonable to expect that unvaccinated guests will be subject to stricter protocols than vaccinated guests.
***On Friday, RCI reported that two people had tested positive for COVID on board the ‘Adventure of the Seas’.
Both persons were under 16 and were tested as required before returning home.
In a statement, RCI said that both were unvaccinated and that they were immediately quarantined. One was asymptomatic while the other showed mild symptoms.
The guests and their travel party disembarked today 25th June in Freeport, The Bahamas and are on their way home to Florida. “Ninety-two percent of our guests on ‘Adventure’ are fully vaccinated and the remaining 8% are under 16 years old. One hundred percent of our crew are fully vaccinated,” RCI said.
‘Adventure of the Seas’ recently re-entered operations cruising out of Nassau.