ORLANDO, Fla. — Royal Caribbean wants everyone vaccinated against COVID-19 when they resume sailing this summer — but passengers don't have to be.

What You Need To Know

  • Royal Caribbean will recommend vaccines for all passenger; extra protocols for unvaccinated passengers

  • RCL CEO says 90% of passengers are vaccinated or will be by the time of their trip

  • Royal Caribbean will do a test sailing on June 20 in Miami

  • If the test sailing is successful, Royal Caribbean hopes to do its first sailing July 2

In a news release touting "comeback for summer sales", Royal Caribbean said guests were strongly recommended to set sail fully vaccinated. 

However, those who were unvaccinated or unable to verify vaccination would have to go through testing and other protocols, which the cruise line said it would announce at a later date. 

The exception to this would be for vacationers heading to Alaska, who must be fully vaccinated. Also any passengers departing from an international port must meet the travel requirements of their home country and the country of their departure.

Cruise ship crews must be fully vaccinated.

In a statement, CEO Michael Bayley said the rollout of the vaccine had made it possible to get cruise ships sailing again, which Royal Caribbean hopes to begin on July 2.

"As of today, 90% of all vacationers booking with Royal Caribbean are either vaccinated or planning to get vaccinated in time for their cruise,” said Bayley.

The CDC strongly recommends passengers, crew and port staff be fully vaccinated. 

Royal Caribbean is planning these vacations for the summer:

  • Freedom of the Seas  Miami to Bahamas and CocoCay starting July 2
  • Odyssey of the Seas – Fort Lauderdale to Southern and Western Caribbean cruises starting July 3
  • Serenade of the Seas – Alaska sailings from Seattle starting July 19
  • Allure of the Seas – Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Port Canaveral starting August 8
  • Ovation of the Seas  Alaska itineraries from Seattle starting August 13  
  • Symphony of the Seas – Eastern and Western Caribbean from Miami starting Aug. 14
  • Independence of the Seas – Western Caribbean sailings from Galveston, Texas starting Aug. 15
  • Mariner of the Seas – Bahamas and CocoCay from Port Canaveral starting Aug. 23

Royal Caribbean was the first cruise company approved by the CDC for simulated test sailings. The first one is set for June 20 in Miami.  That test sailing needs to be successful in order for CDC to grant approval for the July vacations Royal Caribbean announced Friday.

Florida and Texas have both passed laws that ban businesses from requiring vaccines, and in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has refused to grant an exemption for cruise lines, even as he fights with the CDC to get the cruise industry again sailing sooner.

At least one cruise line is insisting on requiring all passengers be fully vaccinated. Norwegian Cruise Lines has even said it will leave Florida ports if the state does not allow the vaccine requirements.


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