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Royal Caribbean Will Treat Non-Vaccinated Cruisers As ‘Second Class’ On Sailings
Royal Caribbean has decided to resume cruising operations. This is a win for those who have fully been vaccinated against Covid-19 and eager to travel. But, if you haven’t been vaccinated yet, don’t worry, you can still travel on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean’s 4,275-passenger Freedom of the Seas resumed sailings from Miami to the Bahamas this month and while non-vaccinated guests are welcomed, they’ll be considered ‘second class’ passengers.
Bloomberg reported on July 10, guests of Freedom of the Seas who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 are identified with special wristbands and have a full run of the ship. However, unvaccinated guests cannot use many of the facilities such as the sushi bar, casino, or spa.
Freedom of the Seas was the first ship to depart from a US port since last March without a vaccination requirement. Also, it was the first to depart from Miami, Florida.
Cruising resuming is at the center of a dispute with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), because Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has barred businesses from requiring vaccination cards, while the CDC requirements make it hard for cruise ships to abide by this rule, as The Palm Beach Post reports.
The CDC requires cruise companies to enforce mask-wearing and social distancing when unvaccinated passengers are on board.
In order to have their Caribbean cruises resume, Royal Caribbean’s list of restrictions for Freedom of the Seas, which it released in mid-June, applies to all sailings on the ship in July—and will probably apply to four other ships the line plans to launch from Florida this summe— with capacities of up to 6,680 passengers.
Those with a hole punched in their SeaPass, which indicates that they either they have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 or have declined to show a vaccination card, will be segregated to one deck of the main dining room and will be banned from the better dining venues.
The maritime-themed Schooner Bar pub and Viking Crown nightclub, the casino, art auctions, and the indoor Solarium pool and bar, will be barred to unvaccinated passengers.
Unvaccinated passengers who go to a concert have to sit in a segregated area in the back of the theatre. They can only use the gym during specified hours. The trip is also more expensive for unvaccinated guests.
Anyone over the age of 12 who does not show proof of vaccination will have to provide a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test taken within three days of departure. They’ll also have to pay for a second test at the pier and a third upon disembarking on the last day.
In addition, Royal Caribbean is requiring unvaccinated travelers leaving from Florida to purchase travel insurance —at least $25,000 per person for medical expense coverage and $50,000 per person for medical evacuation— from August 1st through to the end of 2021.
According to the Cruise line company, only 7% of the passengers on the first Freedom cruise are unvaccinated, and most of these are under-12s.
The line is currently only sailing at 40% capacity to allow for social distancing and to put the new health protocols to the test. There are plans to ramp up capacity throughout the summer. However, The CDC has recommended that at least 95% of passengers and crew be vaccinated.