With delta cases rising, Royal Caribbean to expand COVID-19 testing requirements

Jul 29, 2021

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Adults soon will need to show a negative COVID-19 test in addition to proof of a COVID-19 vaccine to get on board some Royal Caribbean ships.

With Delta cases across the U.S. on a sharp upswing, the world’s largest cruise line on Thursday said all passengers over the age of 2 on sailings of five nights or longer out of U.S. ports would need to provide such a negative COVID-19 test before boarding.

The new policy will be effective for departures on Saturday and beyond and remain in effect through at least Aug. 31.

Royal Caribbean said the test must be administered no more than three days prior to sailing and proof of negative results must be shown at check-in. The test can be an antigen test or a PCR test.

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Royal Caribbean did not mention the rise in Delta cases specifically in its announcement but said in a statement to TPG that it was implementing the requirement “in an abundance of caution, and to ensure that our guests, crew and the communities we visit remain healthy.”

Until now, Royal Caribbean only has been requiring unvaccinated passengers sailing out of U.S. ports to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

The requirement only has affected a small percentage of Royal Caribbean passengers as most Royal Caribbean passengers right now are vaccinated for COVID-19.

Royal Caribbean has been mandating that all passengers 16 years of age and older on sailings out of many U.S. ports show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to sail, and the age cut-off will drop to 12 on Sunday. The only exception to this is for sailings out of Florida, where Royal Caribbean has responded to a state law outlawing vaccine mandates by loosening its vaccine requirement.

Still, even with the loosened rules in Florida, most cruisers sailing out of the state on Royal Caribbean ships are vaccinated for COVID-19 and thus have not needed to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test until now.

Royal Caribbean also has been requiring that passengers on ships sailing out of U.S. ports wear masks while in most interior areas of the vessels.

“All other testing requirements and policies are still in place,” Royal Caribbean said in its statement. The new testing mandate is  “an additional layer of precaution to ensure the safety of everyone onboard.”

Royal Caribbean added that it would “continue to monitor public health circumstances as they evolve and make necessary adjustments to our protocols.”

The added testing requirement at Royal Caribbean comes as other big vacation companies that operate in the U.S. begin adding more anti-COVID-19 measures, too. Resort giant Disney on Wednesday said it would again require visitors to wear masks while indoors and upon entering and throughout attractions at Walt Disney World in Florida, along with at Disneyland in California.

Royal Caribbean just resumed departures out of U.S. ports on July 2 with sailings out of Miami and soon is starting up sailings out of Fort Lauderdale and Port Canaveral, Florida, too. The line began sailings out of Seattle to Alaska on July 19 and soon will add sailings out of Galveston, Texas.

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Featured image courtesy Royal Caribbean. 

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