Royal Caribbean to require proof of vaccination on cruises from Florida
Royal Caribbean cruisers ages 12 and older will now have to show proof of vaccination to sail from Florida, the line told its passengers on Friday.
Royal Caribbean, which isn't sailing with as high a percentage of vaccinated passengers as some other lines, was previously allowing travelers to opt out of showing proof on sailings from Florida, thanks to an executive order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis to prohibit businesses from requiring vaccinations in order to render services in the Sunshine State.
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Due to changing vaccine regulations in the Bahamas, which is a frequent stop for many cruise lines, Royal Caribbean's policy for voyages leaving from Florida will now be the same as its policy for those from all other U.S. embarkation ports -- proof of inoculation is required -- from Sept. 3 through at least Nov. 1, 2021.
"Travelers unable to show proof of vaccination will be unable to sail," the line said in a media statement Friday. "... Guests under 12, who are currently ineligible for the vaccine, can still cruise with us as long as they continue to provide a negative test result at boarding and follow certain health and safety protocols."
Those health and safety protocols involve Royal Caribbean's decision to prohibit unvaccinated passengers from entering certain onboard areas, such as the spa, casino, specific decks in the theater, certain dining areas and select bars and lounges. They also require unvaccinated individuals to wear masks in all indoor public areas unless eating or drinking.
Supporting the move is the fact that, earlier this month, a Florida judge issued a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit Norwegian Cruise Line filed against the state of Florida, arguing that DeSantis' executive order limited the line's ability to require vaccine proof as a way to keep passengers safe.
Likely also playing into the line's decision are the updated guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for cruisers which advise that "people who are not fully vaccinated avoid travel on cruise ships...."
The CDC's COVID-19-related operating protocols for cruise lines are now just recommendations, following the ruling in a separate lawsuit between DeSantis and the CDC. A judge said the CDC was overstepping its authority in mandating the protocols; the lines have since said they plan to continue following the agency's recommendations anyway.
Featured photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy.