Regulatory policy

Royal Caribbean to change its testing policy on shorter cruises

In the second quarter earnings report released July 28Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty said the company plans to remove testing requirements for vaccinated customers by August 8 for all of its cruise brands on shorter sailings.

The company may be considering removing vaccinations as a requirement for cruising as well, moving to the point where everyone can vacation on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. Liberty did not mention the dates when this could come into effect, while global requirements now do not allow the cruise line to take this step.

Royal Caribbean removes testing requirements

Passengers sailing aboard any of Royal Caribbean’s ships, including Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea, will not be required to present a negative test result from August 8.

The requirement will initially be waived for vaccinated passengers sailing on cruises of less than six days. Unvaccinated passengers and all passengers sailing on cruises of six days and longer will still need to provide proof of a negative test.

With the majority of cruises for Royal Caribbean International under six days, the new requirement will have a significant impact on passenger pre-cruise preparation.

Photo credit: Royal Caribbean

The policy change is a direct result of the CDC end the COVID-19 program for cruise shipsAccording to Jason Liberty, CEO of Royal Caribbean Group:

“Since returning to service last year, we have seen over 3 million passengers enjoy cruise vacations responsibly, in a changing operating environment,”

“Last week, the CDC terminated its COVID-19 program for cruise ships. Based on this change, we continue to adapt our protocols to more closely align with how the rest of society and other travel and leisure businesses operate.

“This means that we are moving to the point where everyone can holiday with us while still working with our destination partners to meet their regulations. From August 8, testing will be required for passengers not vaccinated on all voyages and for passengers vaccinated only on voyages of six nights or more.

Read also: Royal Caribbean changes its policy from June 1

Removing testing requirements will mean a massive boost for Royal Caribbean. Many people postpone their cruise plans due to the hassle of testing two days before a trip.

Will Royal Caribbean drop the vaccination mandate

Jason Liberty also appears to be hinting at the end of vaccine mandates, saying, “we are getting to the point where everyone can vacation with us.

If so, the cruise line will take a major step towards returning to normal cruising. For now, almost all passengers with the children under twelve exemption and those with medical exemptions must be fully vaccinated for the cruise.

Mixed vaccines
Photo credit: oasisamuel / Shutterstock.com

However, that seems unlikely to happen in the immediate future. Almost all destinations in the world require cruise ships to sail or arrive with all guests fully vaccinated.

To remove this requirement, Royal Caribbean would have to agree with all destinations on sailing without a vaccination mandate. It is only when these agreements are in place that a mandate can be abandoned.

Abandoning the vaccine mandate does not seem like an easy step to take. But, by minimizing testing requirements, Royal Caribbean Group has taken a huge step towards returning to “normal” cruises. An effort that several other cruise lines have also made in recent weeks.

Jewel of the Royal Caribbean Seas