Royal Caribbean Just Dropped Its Summer Lineup of Cruises
Proof of vaccination not required.
The cruise industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic: Most cruise lines have had their fleets stay put since March 2020.
However, Royal Caribbean recently became the first cruise line to receive CDC approval to set sail in US waters, with a planned volunteers-only cruise from June 20 to June 22 departing from Miami.
Now, Royal Caribbean announced that it would be increasing the number of active ships cruising US waters by six, beginning July 2. While the company says that all crew members will be fully vaccinated, it will not require proof of vaccination from all passengers, according to a news release.
“Guests are strongly recommended to set sail fully vaccinated, if they are eligible,” the release reads. “Those who are unvaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols, which will be announced at a later date.”
The fact that the company is not requiring proof of vaccinations for passengers is thought to be linked to a controversial law passed in Florida, from which many of the currently planned cruises will depart, which prohibits companies from requiring proof of vaccination, according to the Washington Post. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' staff previously said that cruise lines could be fined $5,000 per violation for asking for proof of vaccination, per the Post.
Texas passed a similar law, so any ships departing from Texan ports will have similar policies in place. However, Royal Caribbean will require vaccinations for cruises leaving from other destinations, such as ships leaving Seattle for Alaska, sailing the Bahamas, or leaving from international ports.
Since lifting its "No-Sail Order" on October 30, the CDC has slowly begun to allow the industry to resume operations under certain strict health and safety guidelines, such as recommending that passengers, crew, and port workers all be vaccinated. It also requires that ships take volunteers on a test cruise to show how they can manage risks associated with the spread of COVID-19 before they can take paying passengers, though this step can be skipped should 95% of all those on board be vaccinated, per the Post.
The CDC has given nine ships operated by Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line and MSC Cruises the green light to begin test cruises to date, according to the Washington Post. Two of Royal Caribbean's Celebrity Cruises sister ships have even been cleared to go straight to cruising.
Royal Caribbean also dropped the itinerary for the cruises it has planned for the summer.
"This is it," Royal Caribbean's President Michael Bayley said in a statement. "Vacationers can finally plan to take their precious time off this summer and truly get away after what has been a challenging time for everyone."
Here's Royal Caribbean's summer lineup:
- Freedom of the Seas: Three- and four-night Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay sailing from Miami beginning July 2
- Odyssey of the Seas: Six- and eight-night Southern and Western Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale beginning July 3
- Serenade of the Seas: Seven-night Alaska sailings from Seattle starting July 19
- Allure of the Seas: Seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Port Canaveral beginning August 8
- Ovation of the Seas: Seven-night Alaska itineraries from Seattle starting August 13
- Symphony of the Seas: Seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings from Miami beginning August 14
- Independence of the Seas: Seven-night Western Caribbean sailings from Galveston, Texas beginning August 15
- Mariner of the Seas: Three- and four-night Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay sailings from Port Canaveral starting August 23
Additionally, the Harmony of the Seas will hit Europe starting August 15. The ship will go to Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and Provence, France.
Royal Caribbean hasn't announced the full extent of its COVID-19 safety protocols yet, and it remains unclear at what capacity ships will sail. However, the company says on its website that it will be working in accordance with CDC guidelines.