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Royal Caribbean Reverses Vaccination Policy

Ovation of the Seas (Photo by Chris Ison/PA Wire)
Royal Caribbean Reverses Vaccination Policy

Royal Caribbean International has reversed its Covid vaccination policy and will now allow unvaccinated guests to sail on U.S. cruises this summer.

It still “strongly recommends” that passengers get the vaccine, but they will be allowed on board with a negative COVID test. All crew will be vaccinated.

“Guests are strongly recommended to set sail fully vaccinated, if they are eligible. Those who are unvaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols, which will be announced at a later date,” the company said in its announcement.

Royal Caribbean will begin sailing six of its ships out of U.S. ports in July and August. The first to sail will be Freedom of the Seas out of Port Miami on 2 July.

The company had previously announced that all passengers would have to be vaccinated before they are allowed to sail, but such a demand will fall foul of a recently passed Florida law prohibiting businesses – including cruise companies – from looking for proof of vaccination from its customers.

Anyone in breach of the law can be fined up to $5,000 – per customer.

Florida is the most important U.S. base for the international cruise industry.

Instead, Royal Caribbean will conduct a series of test cruises that will establish whether its safety and health protocols are up to muster. These are conditions laid down by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) in the absence of a vaccination guarantee.

Freedom of the Seas will first conduct a test cruise from 20-22 June.

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Fionn Davenport is the editor-in-chief of the ITTN group, including ITTN and ITTN Ireland. He's one of Ireland's best-known travel journalists and writers, with nearly 30 years' experience writing guidebooks for Lonely Planet and others.

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