Royal Caribbean-owned cruise line just announced a vaccine requirement

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Harmony of the Seas. (PHOTO: apiqroo.com)

Several cruise lines have started announcing vaccination requirements for guests and crew members as the industry looks to restart after the the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, cruise ships that were mid-trip began facing COVID-19 related turmoils as the virus began trickling around the world, leaving passengers stuck, infected, or dead. Shortly after, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a no-sail order, which was later replaced by its “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order,” a compilation of protocols needed for cruising to resume again by November 1.

This sailing order was again updated on April 2. These new guidelines didn’t reflect the cruise industry’s hope of a sailing return by July, but did recommend cruise lines to establish a timeline for crew and port workers to get the vaccine.

Despite this updated framework – and pent-up demand for highly anticipated cruise ships and trips – the official return of cruising still remains in limbo. Presently, no major US cruises will be welcoming passengers until May, but companies are constantly extending this pause on sailing.

But as the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be distributed across the globe, this could soon change.

“If we start to see vaccines become more widely available, and if the vaccines are being administered in a far more efficient manner than they have been, I think it would be reasonable for the cruise lines to say a vaccine is required,” Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and president of the Atmosphere Research Group, told Insider in an interview.

However, vaccine rollout and accessibility has been a notorious struggle around the world. As a result, Harteveldt notes that it may be “counterproductive” for major cruise lines like Carnival and Norwegian to require its guests to receive the vaccine if sailings actually resume in the next few months instead of later in the year, say July.

ut over the last month, cruise lines have become increasingly vocal about the vaccine. While some companies – such as Carnival and its Holland America line – are “reviewing” the different vaccines, several others have already announced vaccination protocols for guests and crew members.

These are all the cruise lines with vaccine-related mandates so far:

Saga Cruises

GettyImages 1228287632
Saga Cruises. Hauke-Christian Dittrich/picture alliance via Getty Images

On January 21, United Kingdom-based Saga Cruises announced that it would require all of its passengers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 two weeks before a trip. Saga primarily caters to passengers over 50-years-old.

Royal Caribbean

Wonder of the Seas cruise ship Royal Caribbean
The Wonder of the Seas. Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean expects to require its crew members to receive the vaccine before sailings return, a spokesperson told Insider.

On March 1, the cruise line also announced its first “fully vaccinated” cruise aboard the Odyssey of the Seas, which will be sailing in May from Israel. Both crew members and guests over 16 years old will have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to sail on the upcoming cruise.

“Royal Caribbean’s decision to come to Israel is a significant expression of confidence in our policy,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in the press release announcing the cruise. “Just as we made Israel the world champion in vaccines, we will make it the world champion in economics and tourism in the post-coronavirus era.”

On March 19, Royal Caribbean announced a similar series of seven-night sailings from July to August aboard its Adventure of the Seas ship. These summertime cruises will bring guests from Nassau, Bahamas to islands like the Grand Bahama, Cozumel, Mexico, and Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Like the Israel-based Odyssey of the Seas sailings, every adult passenger interested in this upcoming Adventure of the Seas collection will have to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Guests under 18-years-old will instead have to test negative for the virus.

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