Royal Caribbean says unvaccinated passengers may have more fees, restrictions on cruises

After completing its first test cruise out of Miami, Royal Caribbean has released guidelines for vaccinated and unvaccinated guests who will set sail on their "Freedom of the Seas" ship.

The ship's test voyage took off from Miami Sunday with about 600 volunteers onboard, along with a representative from the CDC, to test the cruise line's safety protocols.

Royal Caribbean said when they do set sail out of US ports, they will require everyone 16 or older to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, except for on ships setting sail from Florida. That's because Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation banning businesses from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

The cruise line said it expects 90% of passengers to be vaccinated in Florida, despite the lack of a mandate. The 10% who aren't vaccinated will "be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols at their own expense."

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Now they've released the first of those guidelines on their website, saying that for July sailings on Freedom of the Seas departing from Miami, the cruise line "strongly recommends" all guests ages 16 and older be fully vaccinated. 

Cruise passengers will be asked to provide proof of vaccination at check-in and will have to show their CDC vaccination card. Those who are vaccinated will not have to undergo any additional testing requirements.

"Those who are 16 and older and do not have or are unable to provide documentation will be considered unvaccinated," the website says.

Unvaccinated guests must undergo multiple COVID-19 tests at their own expense. A PCR test by an accredited laboratory must be administered no more than three days before the sailing, and must be paid for by the guest. At the terminal, an additional PCR test will be administered, which will cost $136 per guest and will be charged to the guest's onboard expense account. And prior to disembarking the ship, unvaccinated guests will be required to undergo antigen testing at the end of the trip, at an additional $136 charge.

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"If you do not wish to undergo or pay for additional testing, or adhere to these health and safety protocols, we are happy to provide you with a refund," Royal Caribbean's site says.

Once onboard the ship, the company says there will be venues and events restricted to vaccinated guests only since the majority of passengers will be vaccinated.

Both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests will be required to wear masks indoors unless eating and actively eating or drinking, although masks will not be required for vaccinated guests when in venues or at events designated for vaccinated guests only.

Masks will not be required in guests' staterooms or outdoors, unless in a crowded setting.

The company said the main dining room will have designated areas for vaccinated and unvaccinated reservations to dine separately, while entertainment venues will have select showtimes solely for vaccinated guests.

For more information, visit Royal Caribbean's website.