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Texas will ban cruise lines from asking for proof of a Covid-19 vaccine

In:
08Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Texas looks like it will sign a similar law to Florida's that prohibits the ability for private companies to ask their customers for proof of vaccination against Covid-19.

In response to cruise ships wanting to provide proof of a vaccine, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) says he signed a new law that bans the ability for any business in Texas from asking for vaccine information.

The new law follows up on an executive order he signed in April 2021 that banned state agencies or organizations that received public funds from doing the same thing.

Governor Abbott specifically addressed the issue of cruise ships, which may look to ensure a certain percentage of their passengers are vaccinated, and does not want them to be able to ask passengers for that information.

Governor Abbott tweeted his response after someone asked about cruise ships sailing out of Galveston instead of Florida ports to get around the vaccine ban there, "I'm signing a law today that prohibits any business operating in Texas from requiring vaccine passports or any vaccine information."

"Texas is open 100% without any restrictions or limitations or requirements."

This new law now includes private companies.

Florida passed a law that does the same thing, and it has been a major point of contention for the cruise industry, which seeks to restart operations from the United States while also avoiding becoming a media spectacle due to any Covid cases onboard a ship.

Moreover, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires in some cases cruise lines to ensure a certain percentage of its guests are fully vaccinated.

Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has been vocal in his unwavering support of prohibitions against people being asked to provide proof of a vaccine.

"We think they should be able to sail. But we also don't think that they should be able to require your personal health information in that regard."

Cruise lines are caught in a precarious position of wanting to restart operations quickly, while also ensuring the stigma of being a "super spreader" of Covid-19 does not perpetuate.

The cruise industry remains mostly shutdown by the federal government, and in large part, that is due to the public perception that Covid-19 is somehow more likely or easier to spread onboard. In the court of public opinion, one case on a ship seems to be one too many, and it draws an disproportional amount of media coverage.

Royal Caribbean has seemingly changed its stance on requiring a vaccine since announcing its restart plans from the United States.

While Royal Caribbean has not announced its full set of health protocols for cruises sailing from the United States this year yet, the language chosen in talking about vaccines has shifted away from a mandate.

When Royal Caribbean announced their return to service last week, they did not say the vaccine would be required, but instead "strongly recommended" getting vaccinated.

The announcement says, "guests are strongly recommended to set sail fully vaccinated, if they are eligible."

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain spoke on Monday about the vaccine requirements, but did not specify that it would be required.  Instead, he mentioned that the "vast majority" of guests the company has surveyed have indicated they either have or will get vaccinated.

He also talked about Florida's vaccine ban, and said he does not expect a large number of unvaccinated guests onboard, "This unique law only applies within Florida. While we obviously have to comply with the law of the land, we do not believe that we will have significant numbers of unvaccinated for several reasons."

New aerial photos of Odyssey of the Seas

In:
08Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Odyssey of the Seas spent the weekend in Port Canaveral to get its crew members vaccinated, and now we have a look at the ship from up in the air.

Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship was a must-see for many cruise fans in Central Florida over the weekend.

Not only is a new ship attention-grabbing, but it is rare to be able to see a ship in one port for many days at a time.

Friend of RoyalCaribbeanBlog Constant Cruiser decided to take advantage of the ship being in port and rented a helicopter tour to bring him closer to the ship and see what Odyssey looks like at every angle.

The 16-deck-high, 1,138-foot-long ship is one of the largest ships in the world, and can accommodate 4,180 passengers.

Odyssey of the Seas is the second Quantum Ultra Class ship, which is essentially a stretched and enhanced version of the original Quantum Class ships.

What you may notice first about Odyssey of the Seas when you take to the sky is her pool deck looks different than other Quantum or Quantum Ultra class ships.

Borrowing a feature from the Royal Amplified program, Odyssey of the Seas has an enhanced pool deck that Royal Caribbean calls a "Caribbean-inspired" pool deck.

Bright colors dominate the deck, which has a more open layout.

In addition, Odyssey does not have a secondary indoor pool for all guests.  In keeping with the Caribbean vibe, that area is now an outside pool as well.

Guests can also enjoy the Lime & Coconut bar right in the middle of the fun, and grab a bite to eat at El Loco Fresh.

Just like all Quantum Class ships, Odyssey has three very noticable activities you can see on the top of the ship: North Star observational pod, the Ripcord by iFly sky diving simulator, and FlowRider surf simulator.

Royal Caribbean also added the SkyPad virtual bungee trampoline experience to the ship.

Something else you might notice if you look carefully is a new larger than life art, which this time features a magenta cat.

Each Quantum and Quantum Ultra Class ship features an animal, including pandas, a giraffe, and bear.

The plan now is for Odyssey of the Seas to make her inaugural cruises from Fort Lauderdale on July 3.

Neither Royal Caribbean or the CDC has confirmed when the ship might begin her test cruises quite yet.

Royal Caribbean Group CEO talks about vaccine and Florida's vaccine passport ban

In:
07Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain has a new video update this week, where he tackles the hot button issues everyone is talking about related to cruises restarting.

Mr. Fain started out by stating he is "a very happy camper" following the restart plans that have been announced for Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises.

The predominent question over the last two weeks has shifted from "when will cruises begin?" to "how and can cruise lines require the Covid-19 vaccine?".

Mr. Fain has been a major supporter of the Covid-19 vaccines, and even went as far in his newest video to implore more Americans to get vaccinated, especially those that think they do not need to get one.

"But today, as we get vaccinated, we're not only helping ourselves, we're helping the people around us."

"Even if we don't feel that we need the protection for ourselves, we should still do it to help our friends and neighbors."

The bulk of his update was addressing if Royal Caribbean would require the vaccine, and Florida's law prohibiting businesses from asking anyone if they are vaccinated.

When Royal Caribbean announced their return to service last week, they did not say the vaccine would be required, but instead "strongly recommended" getting vaccinated.

The announcement says, "guests are strongly recommended to set sail fully vaccinated, if they are eligible."

"We want all of our guests to be vaccinated."

"We want that because we believe it makes us all safer, and we want that because our guests want that."

He pointed to survey data from cruise guests that show "the vast majority" are either already vaccinated or about to do so.

Mr. Fain admitted there are some exceptions from everyone being vaccinated on a cruise ship, such as children under the age of 12.

He did not say come out and say explicitly Royal Caribbean International would require the vaccine. Instead, he seemed to lean on the fact their data shows most adults will be vaccinated.

"Our plan, therefore, continues to be that virtually everyone who's eligible for a vaccine will have one."

"On some of our ships with fewer children, including Celebrity and SilverSeas and some Royal Caribbean international ships, we will ensure that the percent vaccinated will exceed 95 percent."

"On other ships, we expect that almost everyone over 12 will be vaccinated."

"The specifics are confusing and they will undoubtedly be movement of the various details during the coming weeks."

Florida's vaccine ban

In his first public statement about Florida's ban on companies asking for proof of vaccination against Covid-19, Richard Fain shared his thoughts about the regulation.

"This unique law only applies within Florida. While we obviously have to comply with the law of the land, we do not believe that we will have significant numbers of unvaccinated for several reasons."

Mr. Fain explained most want to be vaccinated, and the additional hurdles for the unvaccinated would perhaps be a catalyst to get them vaccinated.

"Remember, the vast bulk of our guests want vaccinations and in most cases already have them. In addition, due to the health and legal requirements of many jurisdictions, those who are unvaccinated will need to undergo additional testing and other restrictions. That necessarily adds to their cost, and adds limitations on the cruise for those people who choose to be unvaccinated."

He added that there would be no additional costs for children who are not eligible for the vaccine.

Florida vs CDC lawsuit will continue on Thursday

In:
07Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

The legal challenge between the State of Florida and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will continue this week.

Judge Steven D. Merryday will hear arguments on Thursday in the ongoing court case that seeks to lift the CDC's No Sail Order and allow cruise ships to sail without CDC approval.

Florida sued the CDC so that cruise ships could return to service faster and without government approval.

The case will be held in Tampa following court mediation that failed to come to any kind of a resolution.

Florida filed the lawsuit back in April when cruise ship restart plans from the United States were completely idle. Florida felt the cruise lines were being treated unfairly, and the CDC's approval process would be much to slow and onerous.

Since then, a lot of progress has been made by both the CDC and cruise lines to get going again.

Royal Caribbean announced summer restart plans from the United States last week, and Carnival and NCL both announced restart plans earlier today.

A Memorandum in opposition court filing by U.S. Department of Justice attorneys say now the situation is completely different, and "recent factual developments further undermine" Florida's argument for the need to lift he CSO.

"Cruising is on track to resume by mid-summer, and Florida cannot establish an irreparable injury that would occur in the absence of an injunction. Plaintiff’s original motion was premised on the misconception that an “industry” was “shut down” indefinitely," the filing stated.

"That was never a valid characterization of the CSO, and it is demonstrably not the case now."

The CDC has been certainly more active in changing protocols, and approving test cruises.

So far, a number of Royal Caribbean cruise ships have been approved to begin test sailings, with more lines getting approval too. In fact, the CDC says thus far they have approved 22 port agreements at 5 ports of call and has approved or provisionally approved 11 requests to conduct simulated voyages; and has received and provisionally approved 2 conditional sailing certificates for highly vaccinated cruises.

The CDC also repeated its claim that if the Conditional Sail Order was lifted, it would mean cruises to Alaska would not be possible.

According to the CDC, the legislation recently signed into law by President Joe Biden is only effective if a Conditional Sailing Order issued by the CDC remains in effect, "because Alaska Tourism Restoration Act (ATRA) only benefits ships operating with a Conditional Sailing Certificate under the CSO."

The CDC also believes if Florida wins the lawsuit, it would "cast considerable additional doubt on public confidence in the industry", and otherwise "undermine" restart plans for passenger operations.

Court ordered mediation took place last week between the two sides, but those talks failed.

Taryn Fenske, communications director for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, spoke out after the mediation went nowhere about the fact the CSO continues to be "unlawful", "After more than a week of good-faith negotiations by the State of Florida in mediation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), after Florida sued the CDC to overturn the agencies unlawful No Sail Order, the CDC continues to impose ridiculous, unlawful regulations that targets a single industry by imposing vaccine requirements – something no other business or industry must do."

"These requirements not only discriminate against one industry, but children, families, and small businesses. Despite Florida’s sincere efforts to reach a compromise, the United States District Court declared an impasse."

The cruise lines have been caught in the middle of the CDC and Florida fight, as being federally required to verify if a passenger is fully vaccinated or not is now impossible under Florida law.

Florida law bans cruise ships (and any business) from being allowed to ask customers if they are vaccinated.

The penalty for doing so would be $5,000 for each passenger who is asked for vaccination proof.

Carnival and NCL announce summer cruise ship restart plans from United States

In:
07Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is not the only cruise line to announce it will restart cruises from the U.S. this summer.

Both Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Lines announced on Monday plans to restart cruises as early as July.

Royal Caribbean lead the restart plan charge last week, when it announced cruises from the U.S. in July and August, signifying a major milestone in the cruise industry's return to service.

Here is a look at what each of the other major cruise lines announced today.

Carnival will restart in July

Carnival confirmed it will return to service with cruises out of Galveston on two ships.

Carnival Vista will sail on July 3rd from the Port of Galveston, followed by Carnival Breeze on July 15.

These cruises are available for guests who have received their final dose of a CDC-approved Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise and have proof of vaccination, in accordance with current guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Carnival also has plans to restart cruises on the Carnival Horizon from PortMiami in July.  No specific date was shared, as the line is working with the State of Florida and the CDC for Carnival Horizon sailings.

Carnival also said plans to provide an update by Friday concerning protocols specific to these sailings to all booked guests.

August sailings will be announced by Carnival "over the coming days."

Norwegian will restart in August

NCL admitted its restart plans in the U.S. are contingent on obtaining a conditional sailing certificate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. said that all its initial voyages will operate with fully vaccinated guests and crew.

First, NCL said it would replace Norwegian Bliss on its Alaska cruises with the Norwegian Encore instead.

In terms of new U.S. sailings, here is what NCL announced:

  • Norwegian Gem will begin sailing 7-night cruises from PortMiami on August 15
  • Norwegian Breakaway will sail to Bermuda from New York on September 26
  • Norwegian Bliss will sail from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera on October 2
  • Norwegian Escape will sail from Port Canaveral on November 13

Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, said the additional planned U.S. voyages build on earlier plans for 23 of the company's 28 ships across its three brands beginning in July and phasing in through early 2022.

Royal Caribbean Summer 2021 Cruise Planning Guide

In:
07Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

In summer 2021, Royal Caribbean will restart cruises in the Caribbean and Europe on select ships, and there is plenty you should know about booking, planning, and going on a summer cruise.

UPDATED June 7, 2021

After more than a year of no cruises, Royal Caribbean is going to restart cruises in the United States, Caribbean, and Europe. There will be an array of new rules, protocols, and things to be aware of for anyone considering a cruise this summer. In short, you should expect a lot of changes compared to cruises prior to 2020.

Much of this Royal Caribbean planning guide is subject to change because of the uncertainty related to going on a cruise.  Don't take that as necessarily a bad indicator, but rather, a setting of proper expectations.

This guide aims to provide helpful tips and advice during this period of changes, as well as the latest news and critical information for sailings this summer.

This page is a jumping off point to give you some background information on each aspect of the cruise, with a ton of links to other blog posts that offer much more detailed information.

Be prepared for changes

Unlike planning a cruise in years past, the typical strategies are irrelevant or inaccurate, so this guide aims to fill in the gap until going on a cruise more closely resembles what it was like before the global health crisis began.

The good news is, Royal Caribbean plans on offering cruises from the United States, Caribbean, UK, and Europe.  Thanks to dropping Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations, the return of cruising appears imminent.

So much of the fate of the cruise industry depends on real world factors, and you need to have some level of flexibility and understanding when it comes to undertaking a cruise in 2021 simply because even Royal Caribbean is trying to figure it all out.

For some people, the opportunity to go on a cruise ship again is the most important consideration, and change is a way of life, so embracing it means getting back to the vacation they have dreamed about since it all shut down in March 2020.

Others may find the changes, uncertainty, or restrictions, simply too much for now.  In that case, postponing your trip to a later date when there is more predictability to going on a cruise may be the best course of action.

Speaking of changes, I cannot emphasize enough the high likelihood of changes to protocols, rules, and even new rounds of cancellations.


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Royal Caribbean changes complimentary drinks offering on Adventure of the Seas

In:
07Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

With Royal Caribbean about to restart cruises in North America on Adventure of the Seas, the line is changing up some of the offerings for its customer loyalty program.

Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society program is one of the most generous customer loyalty programs in the cruise industry, and guests sailing on Adventure of the Seas can expect a few changes.

Royal Caribbean sent an email to guests booked on Adventure of the Seas to inform them of what to expect onboard as it relates to their loyalty benefits. To be clear, these changes are for guests sailing on Adventure of the Seas.

First and foremost, it appears the Diamond Lounge will be open, but to reduce crowding in the venue, the cruise line is going to give guests more flexibility with their complimentary beverages for Diamond and higher guests.

Ordinarily, guests who are Diamond, Diamond Plus, or Pinnacle in Crown and Anchor Society can enjoy complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages each evening in the Diamond Lounge, as well as up to 3 drinks at bars or restaurants onboard each night.

On Adventure of the Seas, Royal Caribbean is increasing that offering.

Each day of the cruise, Diamond members receive four vouchers, Diamond Plus members receive five vouchers, and Pinnacle Club members receive six vouchers. Each voucher is for drinks up to $13.

These vouchers are open to be used all day long, not just at night. Moreover, it looks like these drinks may not be limited to the usual Diamond Drink menu of select offerings.

UPDATE: As it turns out, it looks like the drink vouchers will be counted if you redeem them in the Diamound Lounge.

A guest booked on Adventure of the Seas reached out to the Adventure of the Seas Diamond Concierge for clarification.

This is a change Royal Caribbean first made to Quantum of the Seas when it restart cruises in December 2020.

The cruise line also says there will be "newly reimagined" behind-the-scenes entertainment tour and a Meal with an Officer, priority access to all shows, and new ways of recognizing our new Pinnacle Club members.

At check-in for the cruise, while all guests will have to adhere to a new check-in process in Nassau, Bahamas to help manage crowding, Pinnacle Club members will not have to do so.

Pinnacle Club members can enjoy Flexible Arrival — a new program allowing the freedom to check-in up to one hour before or after your scheduled check-in time while
the terminal is open.

Onboard the ship, access to Suite and Concierge lounges will only be limited to members staying in Suites. This means no Pinnacle or Diamond Plus members will be admitted into these venues.

The Crown and Anchor changes are in addition to other health protocols announced for Adventure of the Seas, which include requriring the Covid-19 vaccine for adults, a new check-in approach, a digital muster drill, and more.

Adventure of the Seas sets sail from Nassau, Bahamas on June 12 from Nassau, where she will visit Perfect Day at CocoCay twice, Cozumel, and Freeport, Bahamas.

This will be the first Royal Caribbean International ship to restart from North America, and the second ship in the fleet to sail again following Quantum of the Seas.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog will be live blogging from the first two sailings of Adventure of the Seas.

First cruise ship since March 2020 returns to sailing in North America

In:
07Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

For the first time since March 2020, a cruise ship is sailing with paying passengers somewhere in North America.

Celebrity Cruises' Millennium departed St. Maarten on Saturday, and became the first cruise ship since to start cruises in the Royal Caribbean Group in the Western Hemisphere since Covid-19 shutdown the entire cruise industry.

While cruise ships have been able to slowly restart in other places in the world, no major cruise ships have been able to sail from North America, primarily due to regulatory hurdles.

Royal Caribbean Group announced in March 2021 plans to offer cruises from outside the United States this summer, and Celebrity Millennium is the first to return.

Celebrity Millennium is sailing a 7-night Caribbean cruise that will visit Aruba, Curaçao and Barbados.

Celebrity will offer cruises from St. Maarten to Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries through August.

Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo celebrated the return of cruises, "Today, we sail again! This is such a significant moment for our company, our industry and the Caribbean. That this day has finally arrived for our guests and our crew is truly special – beyond words, really." 

"I am so happy to have our crew back onboard doing what they love and providing amazing vacations and service to our guests. I also am extremely grateful to the leadership of the St. Maarten government for their vision and support to make this moment happen. What an honor to now be the first to enthusiastically say, once again – ‘Welcome Aboard!’"

Our sister site is offering a live blog from Celebrity Millennium that you can follow along with!

New protocols

As you might imagine, there are a variety of requirements and new protocols related to this cruise to make it protect against Covid-19 onboard.

The ship is sailing with far less passengers than the ship's capacity so that it can naturally foster social distancing.

Celebrity has leveraged technology to create new arrival, departure and muster safety drill procedures; and updated onboard and shoreside experiences to reflect new standard health and safety practices; all with the well-being of guests, crew and the communities visited by Celebrity ships at the forefront of the planning process. 

In addition, Celebrity is requiring at least 95% of its guests be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Some other protocols include:

  • Staggered Arrivals and Departures – Terminal arrivals and departures will be staggered by appointment, with guests having the ability to select their preferred times based on travel plans. 
  • Contactless Transactions – Celebrity’s digitally advanced mobile app* transforms the decades-old large-group-gathering Muster safety drill into a personal eMuster experience that guests can complete on their mobile device or interactive stateroom TV, avoiding large group gatherings. The app also expedites the boarding process; and allows guests to read menus and book dining reservations and shore excursions via their smartphone. 
  • Appropriate Face Coverings – During the Terminal check-in and check-out process, all guests 2 years of age and older will be required to wear an appropriate face covering. Once onboard, and unless otherwise stipulated by local governments, masks will not be required in accordance with recent CDC guidance for sailings with vaccinated crew and guests.  

Cruises returning to the United States next

While Celebrity is back in the water from the Caribbean, all eyes remain firmly on the United States.

Before that happens,the newest cruise ship in Celebrity's fleet, the Apex, will sail from Greece on June 19.

And then at long last, Celebrity Edge is scheduled to sail from Ft. Lauderdale, FL on June 26, marking the first cruise ship to sail from the United States.

A variety of other ships will return to service over the following months: Celebrity Silhouette – sailing the UK coastline as of July 3; Celebrity Flora – returning to the extraordinary Galapagos islands as of July3, followed by the award-winning Celebrity Xpedition and intimate 16-passenger Celebrity Xploration on July 24, and September 18, respectively; and sailings to Alaska from Seattle begin July 23.  

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: June 6, 2021

In:
06Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday! It is getting hot outside these days, and the Royal Caribbean news this week is equally heated.  

We had arguably the best news in 16 months when Royal Caribbean announced plans to restart a handful of cruise ships in July and August.

Beginning on July 2, Freedom of the Seas will sail from Miami and mark the return of cruise ships from the United States for Royal Caribbean.

Over the next few weeks, six additional ships will restart operations from ports in Florida, Texas, and Barcelona.

By the end of August, 12 Royal Caribbean ships will be cruising once again across The Bahamas, Caribbean, Alaska and Europe.

Royal Caribbean News

Cruise News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 409th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, taking a look at what you should know when it comes to flying to a cruise.

It looks like cruises are close to restarting (hopefully), and if you are flying to a cruise ship, this may be a good opportunity to review the basics when it comes to planning to book flights and plan for a cruise you have to get to via airplane.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

New RCB Video: 8 Annoying Things Some People On A Cruise Ship Do!

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! This week, we are sharing our latest video — 8 Annoying Things Some People On A Cruise Ship Do! — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Live from the first cruise ship in North America!

The first cruise ship in North America has set sail on the Celebrity Millennium, and we have our first look at what it's like.

Our sister site, Cruise.Blog is reporting live from Celebrity Millennium and sharing the changes made on the first sailing since March 2020.

Odyssey of the Seas arrives in United States

Odyssey of the Seas arrrived in Port Canaveral on Friday, marking her inaugural entry to the United States.

Odyssey of the Seas will offer 6- and 8-night Southern and Western Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale, starting July 3.

You can check out a look at Odyssey of the Seas' sail in with plenty of photos, which was celebrated as a big event at the port.

Royal Caribbean drops vaccine mandate for U.S. cruises

In:
05Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

It looks like Royal Caribbean has completely changed its rules for requiring vaccinations from passengers on most of its U.S. sailings.

Included within the cruise line's ambitious July restart plans announced on Friday, Royal Caribbean changed the wording of its Covid-19 vaccine policy by saying they are now simply "strongly recommended".

Royal Caribbean had updated its policy a few weeks ago to say vaccines would be required for anyone above the age of 16 on U.S. and Bahamas sailings, but within the announcement of which ships will restart revenue cruises is new verbiage that changes the policy.

The announcement says, "guests are strongly recommended to set sail fully vaccinated, if they are eligible."

"Those who are unvaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols, which will be announced at a later date."

A vaccine will remain required for anyone sailing from Seattle to Alaska who are 16 years of age or older, and those 12 or older as of Aug. 1.

On May 22, Royal Caribbean posted on its website that it would require all guests sailing from the U.S. or Bahamas who are at least 16 years old or older to be fully vaccinated to sail.

Two days later, Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain explained in a video update that unlike other Royal Caribbean Group lines, Royal Caribbean International would expect everyone who can be vaccinated, to do so.

"Royal Caribbean International is likely to take a somewhat different route. Like our other brands, everyone who's eligible for vaccine will be expected to have one."

"However, children under 12 can't yet get the shot. And Royal Caribbean International carries a lot of families. Families are important to us."

"On these cruises, we may not reach the ninety five percent threshold, but even here the vast majority will be vaccinated."

Shortly thereafter, Royal Caribbean updated its website and changed the wording from "U.S." to "Seattle".

Why the change?

Royal Caribbean has not provided any explanation yet, but there is rampant speculation it is the result of the ongoing war of words between the cruise lines and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) signed a new law that prohibits businesses from being able to ask for proof of a vaccine from their customers.

Senate Bill (SB) 2006 specifies the new law prohibits "a business entity from requiring patrons or customers to provide documentation certifying vaccination against or recovery from COVID-19."

The new law goes into effect as of July 1st. Companies that violate this law would be subject to a fine of $5,000 each time they require a customer to present a vaccine passport for service.

Governor DeSantis doesn't think cruise ships need to ask passengers for proof of a vaccine, because of how well cruise operations are doing overseas, "These cruise ships are sailing in other parts of the world where they don't even have vaccines available and they're doing it safely and people are having a good time on it. So so they can do it."

Last week, it looked as though a compromise might be possible. Celebrity Cruises told travel agents on a webinar they are working with the Governor's office to find a solution to the issue.

Dondra Ritzenthaler, Celebrity Cruises Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Service, said they were working with the Governors, "we're ironing out a statement that will articulate how cruising will be different than in the state."

Until a resolution is found, Ms. Ritzenthaler said Royal Caribbean Group's full protocols are on hold, "I would say that we are super close, but we will not come out with our total protocols and return to service until we get that formal statement from the governor."

After that call, officials from Governor DeSantis' office denied any discussions with the cruise line was happening.

DeSantis spokeswoman Pushaw on Thursday said it would be up to the cruise lines to develop solutions that don’t include vaccination requirements. "The ban on vaccine passports is not going to be lifted,” she said, “but in general, the law doesn’t stop private companies from taking other measures to protect against COVID-19."

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