One segment of the travel industry that gets lots of press is the US ocean cruise companies like NCL or Royal Caribbean. They have been dueling with the CDC for over a year as to when they will be allowed to sail. Recently, the state of Florida has dictated that cruise lines can not require vaccination as a pre-requisite for boarding. But what does that really mean? Recently Royal Caribbean (RCCL) clarified what that means . Here's a summary:
RCCL strongly recommends everyone over 16 to be fully vaccinated. But for those that are not, RCCL requires additional COVID 19 testing, at the passenger's expense ($136 per test). Those that refuse testing will be issued a full refund. Further all unvaccinated guest over 2 years old will be required to undergo antigen testing the day before the cruise ends.
Fully vaccinated guests will not be required to wear masks in venues (bars, lounges, restaurants, entertainment) or at events designated for fully vaccinated passengers. But if you are unvaccinated, you'll be expected to wear a mask.
Some venues will be restricted to vaccinated guests only Your Seapass card (identification card used onboard) will indicate your vaccination status. In the Main Dining room, there will be separate section for unvaccinated passengers. Furthermore My Time Dining will not be available to unvaccinated guests. Certain showtimes will be restricted to vaccinated guests only.
RCCL warns that it "is reasonable to expect that unvaccinated guests will be subject to stricter protocols than vaccinated guests."
To cruise or not?
Being in confined quarters (a ship) always carries a higher risk of infectious disease than other locations. The CDC and the cruise lines strongly recommend that passengers be fully vaccinated prior to boarding. But as you can see, they are trying to accommodate those that are not fully vaccinated. However, the experience will be different for the unvaccinated. You can decide for yourself if you want to cruise if unvaccinated.
Royal Caribbean just announced that any unvaccinated guest will be required to obtain travel insurance.