From compulsory insurance to being barred from venues: what life will look like for unvaccinated cruise passengers

As cruising resumes overseas, Royal Caribbean has reversed its vaccination policy for voyages from Florida and Texas saying passengers departing from these ports will no longer need to be vaccinated.

But the cruise line said that unvaccinated travellers departing from Florida ports between August 1 to December 31 must have travel insurance.

And these policies must cover all unvaccinated guests over the age of 12 with at least US$25,000 per person in medical expense coverage and US$50,000 per person for quarantine and medical evacuation related to a positive COVID-19 test result. Guests are then required to pay for COVID-19 testing.

Earlier this week, RCI’s six simulation cruises were approved by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and these voyages which will test safety protocols before passengers are allowed on board, will leave from ports in Florida, New Jersey, Texas and Washington in July and August.

So far, RCI has completed one successful trial cruise on Freedom of the Seas which finished on June 20 from Miami.

RCI said that its guest surveys show that about 90% of guests will still be fully vaccinated, so what exactly will life be like the other 10%?

Celebrity Cruises which also have scheduled cruises out of Florida have confirmed that those who don’t choose to show proof of vaccination will be held to different standards and protocols once aboard.

Compulsory Travel Insurance

Royal Caribbean has announced that passengers who leave from Florida ports from Aug 1 to Dec and do not show proof of vaccination, will be required to have travel insurance.

The policies will need to cover all unvaccinated guests that are older than 12 with at least US$25,000 cover per person for medical expenses and US$50,000 per person for quarantine and medical evacuation cover in relation to a positive COVID test result.

Other extra fees

Those who don’t show proof of vaccination will have to pay for additional COVID-19 testing of $180 sailings for six nights or less or $236 for longer sailings, unless they are children in which case the cost will be covered.

However, this is subject to change and could increase or other costs could be added, according to a webinar Royal Caribbean gave to travel agents.

Cut off from certain parts of the ship

Freedom of the Seas is sailing out of Miami on July 2, and Royal Caribbean have specified on its website a list of places where unvaccinated passengers cannot go. This includes no or limited access to all shows on board, as well as no access to certain venues such as Chef’s Table, Izumi Hibachi, Schooner Bar, the Solarium Bar and Pool and more.

It is expected that similar lists will follow for each ship as its first returning itinerary approaches.

Those who provide proof of vaccination will receive a wristband that allows them to access the entire ship, whereas those unvaccinated will have to carry around a SeaPass card and have a hole punched into it when accessing venues.

Shore excursions

It has been announced that those who sail on Adventure of the Seas will be unable to book third party shore excursions. This includes parents travelling with unvaccinated children.

Those unvaccinated will only be to participate in certain Royal Caribbean approved excursions.

Similarly on Freedom of the Seas upcoming itinerary, unvaccinated guests will not be able to freely explore Nassau and the Bahamas and instead will require tours.

Masks

Unvaccinated passengers will be required to wear a mask at all times while indoors unless they are actively eating or drinking.

Masks will also be required outdoors if you are in a crowded setting.

When visiting other countries, passengers will simply have to follow the local laws.