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Cruise giant Royal Caribbean is dropping its COVID-19 vaccine requirement — but there's a catch

Aug. 11, 2022
4 min read
Wonder of the Seas exerior_Royal Caribbean
Cruise giant Royal Caribbean is dropping its COVID-19 vaccine requirement — but there's a catch
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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

Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas docked in the Bahamas. Royal Caribbean is keeping its vaccine requirement for adults for now on sailings to the Bahamas. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

"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."

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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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Featured image by ©2022 Michel Verdure Studio, In
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
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  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees