Cruise giant Royal Caribbean is dropping its COVID-19 vaccine requirement — but there's a catch
Cruise giant Royal Caribbean is finally doing away with its COVID-19 vaccine requirement for adults. But there's a catch.
The world's largest cruise line late Wednesday said it was eliminating the requirement only for some of the itineraries it offers around the world.
The Miami-based brand said that effective Sept. 5, COVID-19 vaccines no longer would be required for sailings out of ports in California, Louisiana and Texas, as well as sailings from all ports in Europe. They'll still be required for most passengers on sailings out of all other U.S. states including Florida, where the line has many of its biggest hubs, and several other countries.
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In addition, even for the itineraries out of Texas and Louisiana for which vaccines no longer will be required, passengers will need to show proof of vaccination if they plan to get off the ship in Grand Cayman — a common stop on sailings from those states.
In another caveat, passengers on Europe sailings who aren't “up to date” on a COVID-19 vaccine series per European standards will need to take a COVID-19 test on board in order to get off the ship in Greece and Spain.
In a statement sent to TPG, Royal Caribbean suggested it hoped to eventually make its new "no vaccine required" policy more universal. But local rules in some destinations that its ships visit, such as the Caribbean, mean it's not practical to do away with the requirement completely for now.
Related: The ultimate guide to Royal Caribbean
"We are collaborating with local governments throughout the Caribbean to align on vaccination requirements for additional itineraries," Royal Caribbean said in the statement. "It’s important that all of our guests enjoy their experience at any destination while also meeting local measures."
Until now, Royal Caribbean only has allowed unvaccinated passengers under the age of 12 on its ships — and only in limited numbers. Adults have needed to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine to cruise on all of its itineraries around the world.
Royal Caribbean sister brand Celebrity Cruises made a similar announcement about its COVID-19 vaccine policy late Wednesday, removing its vaccine requirement effective Sept. 5 for some but not all sailings. COVID-19 vaccines no longer will be required for Celebrity sailings from European countries with the exception of Iceland and sailings from Los Angeles. Celebrity kept its vaccine requirement for sailings from Florida and a number of other places.
The twin announcements came just two days after Norwegian Cruise Line and sister lines Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises became the first major cruise brands to announce an end to their COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
The three latter brands said their new no-vaccine-required policies were fleetwide. But their announcements, too, came with an asterisk: The lines said COVID-19 vaccines still will be required for cruises in some places where local regulations call for one.
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