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Unvaccinated passengers on initial Royal Caribbean cruises from Florida will face restrictions

June 17, 2021
4 min read
Unvaccinated passengers on initial Royal Caribbean cruises from Florida will face restrictions
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Passengers on Royal Caribbean's first sailings from Florida who don't show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine will face more restrictions than passengers who do.

In a statement released late Thursday, the line said passengers who don't provide evidence of a vaccine for COVID-19 when boarding the 3,934-passenger Freedom of the Seas in Miami will not have access to all the ship's activities. They'll also face extra requirements when it comes to COVID-19 testing and mask-wearing.

Freedom of the Seas is scheduled to begin sailing from Miami on July 2, becoming the first Royal Caribbean ship to resume voyages out of a U.S. port.

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"Since the majority of our guests will be vaccinated, there will be venues and events restricted to vaccinated guests only," the line said in the statement. "We’ll do our best to create opportunities for all guests to enjoy their time with us."

Among the restrictions that unvaccinated passengers will face:

  • They will not be able to sign up for My Time Dining in the ship's main dining room -- the type of dining where passengers can arrive whenever they want and sit with whomever they want. They'll be restricted to a fixed dining time and be assigned to a designated area specifically for unvaccinated passengers.
  • They will not be able to participate in some activities.
  • They will not be able to access all venues.
  • They will not be able to attend certain performances of theater shows that will be restricted to vaccinated passengers only.

Unvaccinated passengers also will have to wear masks at all times when in interior areas of the ship. Vaccinated passengers will have to wear masks at some times in interior areas but will be able to take them off when in venues (bars, lounges, restaurants and entertainment areas) or at events designated for vaccinated guests only.

One exception to the above: Masks will not be required for any passengers who are actively eating or drinking.

Royal Caribbean said the newly announced restrictions for unvaccinated passengers would apply both to passengers who are unvaccinated and those who are vaccinated but refuse to show proof of the vaccine.

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The new rules come in the wake of threats from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that any cruise line that asks passengers to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine will be fined. A new Florida law forbids businesses in the state from asking customers to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccinated passengers on Freedom of the Seas will be issued wristbands that show they are vaccinated and allow them access to vaccinated-only venues and events.

Passengers who are unvaccinated will have a hole punched in their key cards, known as SeaPass cards.

All passengers will have to show their SeaPass cards to access lounges, shows and dining venues on the ship.

Royal Caribbean on Thursday also said unvaccinated passengers will have to undergo additional COVID-19 testing at their own expense to sail on Freedom of the Seas.

The additional testing will include a test at the cruise terminal in Miami prior to boarding the ship and another test on board prior to disembarkation. The cost for the two tests will be $136 per passenger, with a caveat: Children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated will not have to pay the charge. Children under the age of 2 will not have to take the tests.

In addition, unvaccinated passengers 16 years of age and older will need to undergo an RT-PCR test for COVID-19 before leaving for their cruise, within three days of sailing. Unvaccinated passengers will be responsible for the cost of that test, too.

Passengers who don't want to pay for the additional testing or follow the newly announced protocols for the ship can cancel their trips for a full refund, Royal Caribbean said.

Royal Caribbean said the new rules would be in effect at least through July.

"We believe that in the coming months, restrictions and requirements will be more accommodating as public health circumstances evolve," the line said.

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Featured image by Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas anchored at Labadee in Haiti. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)
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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  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more