Royal Caribbean Expects Passengers to Be Vaccinated Before Boarding, CEO Says
Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain expects all cruise passengers who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine to be fully vaccinated before returning to cruising.
In an interview with the BBC, Faid noted that the "vast bulk of the people that have booked our cruises have already been vaccinated," and "we expect all of our guests who are eligible for a vaccine to have it."
Proof of vaccination is not currently a requirement to cruise under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's restart plan in the United States, but the agency has recommended it and many cruise lines are mandating the jab. The agency is requiring cruise lines to complete test sailings, but has waived that protocol if 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.
For its part, Royal Caribbean is currently requiring guests 16 and older to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before embarking on a cruise. After Aug, 1, the vaccine requirement drops to 12 and older. Younger children will instead receive a COVID-19 test before boarding, according to the company.
"The combination of the vaccines and testing and contact tracing, all these kinds of protocols really helps us reach our objective, which is to make cruising safer than in your home community," Fain told the BBC. "We want you to be more comfortable walking on board a ship than walking down Main Street."
On Friday, Royal Caribbean submitted its initial plans for test sailings to the CDC for approval, Michael Bayley, the president and CEO of Royal Caribbean, wrote on Facebook, bringing the company one step closer to resuming cruises in the U.S.
"The huge success of vaccines in the USA and many other countries and a commitment from the industry to operate with all of our crew vaccinated and the large number of vaccinated guests has created a clear pathway forward," Bayley wrote. "Yesterday Royal Caribbean submitted the first of several port/health plans to the CDC which are required to receive approval for the simulated voyages which are required to precede approval for regular cruises."
Royal Caribbean has several cruises planned for this summer, including in the Mediterranean and the Bahamas. The company also plans to sail to Alaska after Congress passed a bill allowing large cruise ships to bypass Canadian ports on their way to the state.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.