Cruise Line Makes Major Change in COVID-19 Policy for Unvaccinated Passengers

Cruise Line Makes Major Change in COVID-19 Policy for Unvaccinated Passengers
The Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas gets underway through the Government Cut shipping channel at Port Miami during the first U.S. trial cruise testing COVID-19 protocols in Miami, Florida on June 20, 2021. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

Royal Caribbean confirmed that it will allow all passengers, regardless of vaccination status, on its ships in certain locations.

A spokesperson for the company said that, starting Sept. 5, it will drop its COVID-19 vaccine requirements “as long as testing requirements are met.”

“We are collaborating with local governments throughout the Caribbean to align on vaccination requirements for additional itineraries,” the spokesperson told USA Today.
On its website, Royal Caribbean said that now, “COVID-19 vaccination is not required for sailings departing from home ports in California, Louisiana, or Texas.” The company had required guests aged 12 and older to show proof of vaccination before they could get on ships in North America.

Carnival Changes Requirement

Similarly, Carnival Cruise Line is easing COVID-19 testing requirements for vaccinated passengers and allowing unvaccinated people to travel without an exemption.
“Carnival is pleased to announce new guidelines effective for cruises departing on Sept. 6, 2022, or later, which will make it easier for more guests to sail with simplified vaccination and testing guidelines, including no testing for vaccinated guests on sailings less than 16 nights and eliminating the exemption request process for unvaccinated guests, who will only need to show a negative test result at embarkation,” Carnival said in a statement.

The cruise company’s announcement said it will no longer require testing for vaccinated passengers who are on board ships for under 16 nights. Unvaccinated passengers will not have to file requests for an exemption, the firm said, adding that the changes will go into effect next month.

All unvaccinated passengers “are welcome to sail and are no longer required to apply for a vaccine exemption, except for cruises in Australia or on voyages 16 nights and longer,” said the statement.

Passengers who are vaccinated, it added, “must continue to provide evidence of their vaccination status prior to embarkation.”

The cruise industry has been repeatedly hammered since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several weeks ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ended its COVID-19 reporting rules for ships, prompting cruise operators to ease guidelines.

“CDC has worked closely with the cruise industry, state, territorial, and local health authorities, and federal and seaport partners to provide a safer and healthier environment for cruise passengers and crew,” the CDC said in July. “Cruise ships have access to guidance and tools to manage their own COVID-19 mitigation programs.”

In the spring of 2020, international media focused intensely on an outbreak on board the Diamond Princess cruise, which was held outside a port in Japan for several weeks. At the same time, some ships that had reported COVID-19 outbreaks were prevented from docking at a number of different ports, including inside the United States.

And despite cruise line-mandated rules that required everyone on board to be vaccinated, there were multiple cases where ships reported that dozens of people on board had contracted COVID-19 this year. That included, for example, a “100 percent vaccinated” Princess Cruises ship that reported a COVID-19 outbreak in March.

The Epoch Times has contacted Royal Caribbean for comment.

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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