Whether you fancy a luxurious weekend getaway to France, a week-long Norwegian Fjord adventure, or a 7-night cruise encompassing the sights of Spain and France, Royal Caribbean help you do it in style. In this article we’ll look at the current Covid-19 testing and vaccination requirements to board a Royal Caribbean International cruise from Southampton, UK.
Regardless of vaccination status, all guests over 2 years of age sailing from the UK must take a test before boarding, as detailed below. Tests must be professionally supervised with the result provided on a certificate which includes the guest’s name and date of birth. Self-administered home tests are accepted but must be completed via a professionally supervised video (TeleHealth) appointment. Note that rules for guests aged 12 and over, and children aged 2-11 are different.
Pre-cruise Testing for guests aged 12 and over:
Children aged 12 and over are subject to the same testing requirements as adults.
All guests aged 12 and over must show a negative result for a supervised antigen or PCR test taken no more than 2 days before boarding day.
In addition to the pre-cruise test, guests aged 12+ who are considered not ‘Up to Date’ with their vaccination (detailed below), or are not vaccinated with an EMA-authorized vaccine, will require additional testing (see ‘On-board Testing To Go Ashore’, below) to be completed onboard at their own expense, in order to go ashore in select countries.
Pre-cruise Testing for Children aged 11 and younger:
- Vaccinated children aged 2-11 may present proof of full vaccination (see definition below) and must show a negative result for a supervised antigen or PCR test taken no more than 2 days before boarding day. Click here to compare test providers.
- Unvaccinated children aged 2-11 must show a negative test result for a supervised antigen or PCR test taken no more than 1 day before boarding day. Click here to compare test providers.
- Guests under 2 years of age do not need to complete a pre-cruise test.
As with adults, tests must be professionally supervised. Self-administered home tests are accepted but must be completed via a professionally supervised video (TeleHealth) appointment.
Policy for boarding a Royal Caribbean Cruise:
All Royal Caribbean guests aged 12 and older must present proof of that they are ‘Fully Vaccinated’ against Covid-19 with the final dose administered at least 14 days before sailing or boarding day. You will be required to upload your vaccination certificate in advance of travel and also present it during the check-in and boarding process, otherwise, boarding will be denied.
The definition of ‘Fully Vaccinated’ for adults is:
- A vaccine approved and accepted by the World Health Organization (WHO) or, in some cases, by the European Medical Agency (EMA), with the current exception of the CanSino vaccine. We understand this to mean that all UK-administered vaccinations are accepted.
- At least two doses of vaccine unless you received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine (your ‘Primary Course’ of vaccination)
If you have recently had Covid-19, Royal Caribbean will not accept a Certificate of Recovery in lieu of Full Vaccination for guests of vaccine-eligible age.
The booster jab is not necessarily a requirement to sail with Royal Caribbean, however you may require a booster jab to enter certain ports.
Policy for going ashore in ports of call:
Similar to testing, destinations across the globe are now updating rules and validity dates for vaccination series. Many countries have differing rules (both based on residency and as entry requirements), with many now requiring an “Up to Date” Covid-19 vaccine for entry.
Royal Caribbean state: "For the best European cruise experience, we strongly recommend guests be “up to date” on their Covid-19 vaccination and be prepared to present their physical vaccination record showing all doses, including their original vaccination series, as well as any booster doses they may have received if applicable.”
Guests who do not meet these two requirements will need to take a test onboard before visiting some ports of call (see ‘On-board Testing To Go Ashore’, below).
The definition of ‘Up to Date’ for adults is:
- A primary course of your vaccine received within the primary validity period (e.g. more than 14 days but less than 270 days including the final day of your cruise, for EU countries); or
- A booster jab, usually valid immediately from the day the jab was administered.
These standards apply to guests all aged 12 and up (or aged 6 and over for Italy stops).
As an example, the EU has imposed a vaccination expiry period of 270 days for travel to EU member states meaning that (at the date of publishing) if you completed your primary vaccination series on or before 23 October 2021 and have not received the booster vaccination, you are no longer considered Up to Date for travel by EU standards.
So, while the booster jab is not necessarily a requirement to sail with Royal Caribbean, an Up to Date vaccination series is if you intend to enter all ports of call, for example for excursions.
Vaccination Requirements for Children
Children aged 11 or younger do not require Covid-19 vaccination to cruise. However, children aged 11 or younger who have been vaccinated may present proof of full vaccination and follow the protocols for vaccinated guests.
There are some additional special rules for guests aged 12-17. They will also be considered fully vaccinated if:
- They received their 1st and only vaccine dose no earlier than 4 weeks after a positive Covid-19 result; or
- After their 1st vaccine dose, they tested positive for Covid-19, then received their 2nd vaccine dose no earlier than 4 weeks after the positive Covid-19 result.
Children who have received only one dose (unless Johnson & Johnson) do not count as fully vaccinated.
On-board Testing To Go Ashore
In some instances, guests who cannot prove they are Up to Date may find their entry to some ports of call are restricted and/or will need to take a test onboard before visiting some ports of call. For example, if you are Fully Vaccinated but not Up to Date, you will be required to take a test onboard before going ashore in Belgium, France, Greece, Lithuania, and Malta.
With onboard testing for those aged 12 and over costing $55 USD per test, this will soon add up, so make sure you check each country’s official government website to understand the complete vaccination status and testing requirements for entry and domestic activities before you book your cruise. For example, some countries may allow entry for fully vaccinated travellers but will require Up to Date vaccine status to dine at a restaurant or participate in leisure activities. Any required testing for children aged 6 to 11) is complimentary.
Sources: https://www.royalcaribbean.com/gbr/en/faq; https://www.royalcaribbean.com/the-healthy-sail-center/getting-ready-to-cruise
Written by Abbie Pullman
Published on 20/07/2022
Abbie is Operations Director at Covid Testing Network, overseeing the operational running of the business.
The information within this article is accurate at the time of publishing.
Information about testing requirements, entry requirements to the UK and travelling abroad during Covid-19 is CTN’s understanding of the requirements from multiple sources including the UK Government foreign travel advice website at the time of publishing - always check full requirements including mandatory documentation and quarantine rules before you travel! By using our site, you confirm that you accept our user terms and conditions and you agree to comply with them. We amend these terms from time to time. Every time you wish to use our site, please check these terms to ensure you understand the terms that apply at that time.