How long before departure do cruise passengers have to take a Covid test and get vaccinated?
These two questions are among the most asked since the cruise resumed in 2021 and were posed to Royal Caribbean’s top executive this weekend.
Michael Bayley, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, answered questions from cruise fans during a question-and-answer session aboard Ovation of the Seas for the 2022 Presidential Cruise.
Here’s what he had to say on both subjects.
Tests before the cruise
There has been some conjecture associated with the cruise industry looking for a pre-cruise exam as a requirement.
“I think pre-cruise testing will take a few more months,” Mr. Bayley replied.
“We obviously want things to get back to normal, but we are incredibly aware of our responsibility to protect our crew, the communities and our guests.”
He spoke about the long journey that cruise lines had made with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and how the CDC initially flatly refused to speak to them.
“And they have been successful in their work in many ways, as we worked with them to create the protocols that allowed the industry to come back last July.”
How successful have these health protocols been?
Mr. Bayley mentioned in a conversation with the CDC two weeks ago, the CDC shared a startling statistic: “The cruise industry has left US ports in the last 12 months and how many people have been hospitalized with Covid and how many deaths occurred from Covid from people who had sailed on the ships of the industry which is in the millions.
“And the number of people who died from COVID and sailed on ships in the past year was two.”
“Two is terrible. But compared to everything we saw, it really was a remarkable achievement.”
So with pre-cruise testing still “a few months” away, when might the requirement for adults to be vaccinated against Covid-19 remain in place?
Mr Bayley admitted it’s still a huge unknown: “The question of not having a vaccine is a big question that none of us know the answer to.”
“I am skeptical that this will change in the short term. Many and most of the destinations we visit require high levels of immunizations and they expect our crew to be vaccinated.”
“So many of the Caribbean destinations just don’t have the kind of medical facilities and care that we have in the US. So you are really very endangered. And that’s why they’re obviously very concerned.”
Lots of unvaccinated people are pointing out that Covid cases are still popping up on the ship and Mr Bayley spoke of it: ‘I understand if you’re vaccinated you can be Covid positive and all that stuff. But it’s the societal response to this, and it and governments have responded to it.”
“We talk to different targets all the time. And I would say that’s one of the areas where they’re pretty fixated on that.”
“Who knows how it will change over the months.”