Alt Text!


Royal Caribbean's online check-in requires a negative covid test before arriving to the cruise terminal


Many aspects of the cruise experience are going to change, including the check-in process at the pier.

Between what has changed with Quantum of the Seas sailings in Singapore and comments from Royal Caribbean executives, we have known arriving at the cruise terminal was going to undergo significant changes to spread guests out and ensure everyone is healthy to board.

Royal Caribbean recently updated its online check-in process, and some guests who have cruises booked for May 2021 are seeing some of the changes listed.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Leroyr55 shared a screenshot of the check-in process that lists a few notable changes.

Wellness check

Guests arriving on embarkation day have always been asked some common questions about their health, but that process is now much more elaborate.

The wellness check is part of your pre-selected check-in time at the cruise terminal.

"We’re doing everything we can to ensure our ships sail with healthy guests and crew by implementing wellness checks for all guests."

Your arrival time is also when you take your pre-cruise wellness check.

What exactly the wellness check entails remains to be seen, but Royal Caribbean's cruise contract indicates it will likely include:

  • Providing an accurate, truthful and complete health questionnaire in a form
  • Pre-embarkation testing and temperature checks of each passenger

Read moreRoyal Caribbean adds COVID-19 into cruise contract for all passengers

Negative test required

Another major step is a negative covid test is required when you arrive to prove you have recently tested negative.

"We require all guests to complete SARS-CoV-2 (rtPCR) testing prior to sailing and bring the results to the pier prior to boarding."

Royal Caribbean committed to fully testing all passengers and crew in October 2020 (along with the entire cruise industry).

The check-in process does not indicate if the test taken before you arrive to the cruise terminal will be paid by the cruise line or by the guest, nor where they can get one done.

On-time arrivals

Another change is the check-in times matter.

Before the global health crisis, check-in times were never enforced, but now it appears that has changed.

"Your arrival time is also when you take your pre-cruise wellness check. Please plan to get to the terminal during that time window - not before or after - so you board smoothly."

You can get an arrival time by completing the online check-in before the cruise via Royal Caribbean's app.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean says its app is required when cruises restart

Royal Caribbean adds COVID-19 into cruise contract for all passengers


The contract you agree to when you book a cruise now includes additional disclosures regarding COVID-19.

Royal Caribbean has updated its Cruise Contract with new language related to the current global health crisis at some point in the last few months.

Section 4 of the contract used to cover simply "medical care and other personal services" has been updated to now cover "public health, COVID-19 policies and procedures, knowing acceptance of the risks".

What is a cruise contract?

If you have been on a cruise before, you have agreed to plenty of other protocols and policies through Royal Caribbean's cruise contract.

Every cruise line includes this as part of the agreement you make when you book a cruise.  

Upon placing a deposit, Royal Caribbean adds a check box to indicate the guest has read through the Cruise Contract and agrees to everything inside.

Airlines also have something similar, known as the Conditions of Carriage, that cover almost every scenario a passenger can encounter to clearly indicate expectations of rules and penalties for violating those rules.

Here's what the revised section includes:

Recommended Consultation with Personal Physician

Passengers are encouraged to discuss going on a cruise ship for travel with their personal physicians and to review the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) website for updated

Further, the passengers acknowledges, understands and accepts the risk of contracting COVID-19, influenza and/or Norovirus while on the ship, in the terminal, or on shore.

Furthermore, guests understand that there is a limitation in what Royal Caribbean can do to limit exposure and that that all risk cannot be eliminated.

"Passenger knowingly and voluntarily accepts these risks as part of this ticket contract, including the Risk of serious illness or death arising from such exposures, and/or all related damages, loss, costs And expenses of any nature whatsoever."

Agreement to Abide by Current COVID-19 Policies and Procedures

Passengers agree to comply with Royal Caribbean's health protocols at all times including pre-embarkation, while onboard, during port calls and shore excursions and/or final disembarkation.

These health policies are subject to change based on guidance and directives from established health authorities in the U.S. and other destinations where the Vessel
visits, including the CDC.

"Passenger’s agreement to abide by Carrier’s COVID-19 Policies and Procedures constitutes an integral part of this Ticket Contract."

COVID-19 Policies and Procedures

Royal Caribbean lists some (but not all) of the health policies to expect to follow:

  1. Providing an accurate, truthful and complete health questionnaire in a form and containing any and all health or travel-related questions as required by Carrier in its sole discretion, for each Passenger prior to boarding
  2. Pre-embarkation and/or periodic testing and temperature checks of each Passenger
  3. Modified capacity rules for activities (including but not limited to restaurants, gyms, and entertainment events onboard and for shore excursions) which may limit or eliminate the ability of Passenger to participate in particular activities
  4. Mandatory use by each Passenger (except where medically contraindicated) of face coverings in most locations outside of the Passenger’s cabin while onboard, during embarkation, disembarkation and shore excursions
  5. Mandatory social distancing of Passengers at any/all times while on board and during embarkation, disembarkation, and shore excursions
  6. Additional restrictions during shore excursions depending on local conditions, including but not limited to denial of disembarkation at destinations unless participating in only Carrier-approved shore excursions
  7. Mandatory hand sanitizing by Passenger upon entry or exit of any public areas
  8. Confinement of Passengers to cabins, quarantine or emergency disembarkation of Passenger if, in Carrier’s sole discretion, such steps are necessary to prevent or slow the spread of COVID-19
  9. The required completion by Passenger in a timely manner of any written authorizations or consent forms required for Carrier to carry out its COVID-19 Policies and Procedures (including but not limited to medical information, medical privacy, or personal data privacy consent forms)
  10. Other policies and procedures deemed by Carrier in its sole discretion to be necessary to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19

Mandatory Compliance with COVID-19 Policies and Procedures

This section deals with noncompliance and ensuring everyone is following the rules onboard.

"Any noncompliance by Passenger or members of Passenger’s travelling party with Carrier’s COVID-19 Policies and Procedures or this Ticket Contract shall be grounds for refusal to board, refusal to reboard after going ashore, quarantine onboard the Vessel, disembarkation, reporting to governmental or health authorities, or other steps deemed necessary in Carrier’s sole discretion under the circumstances to protect the health and well-being of others."

If someone violates one of the COVID-19 Policies and Procedures, it is grounds for the passenger to not receive a refund or compensation of any kind.

Passenger will be responsible for all related costs and fines, including without limitation travel expenses and for proper travel documentation for any port, or for departure from or arrival to Passenger’s country of residence.

Passenger Testing Positive for COVID-19 Pre-Cruise

Within 14 days of the cruise beginning, if a passenger tests positive for COVID-19, exhibits signs or symptoms of COVID-19, has had close contact with a person confirmed or suspected as having COVID-19, Royal Caribbean reserves the right to deny boarding to that person.

In such a a situation, any passenger denied boarding because of a known or suspected infection with COVID-19 will be entitled to a refund or future cruise credit equal in value to the Cruise Fare Passenger paid to Royal Caribbean.

Passenger Testing Positive for COVID-19 During Cruise

If you test positive for COVID-19 or exhibit symptoms, Royal Caribbean may disembark, refuse re-boarding after a shore excursion, or quarantine Passenger as well as members of Passenger’s traveling party, or take other steps which Carrier determines, in its sole discretion, are necessary under the circumstances to protect the health and well-being of others. 

If that were to occur, you are entitled to a prorated refund or future cruise credit for the unused portion of the Cruise Fare.

Each such Passenger is responsible for all other related costs and fines, including without limitation travel expenses.

Old cruise contract language from November 2020

New cruise contract language from February 2021

It looks like Royal Caribbean will vaccinate its crew members


It appears Royal Caribbean will be the next cruise line that will vaccinate its crew members.

An email was sent to crew members to inform them that Royal Caribbean expects to vaccinate its crew once sailings restart.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog was able to confirm that emails had been sent to various crew members to inform them that vaccines would be required for them.

"So far, several vaccines have shown to be effective at preventing both mild and severe symptoms of COVID-19, and we intend to make them a key component of our healthy return to service," the email to crew members states.

"Therefore, we expect vaccinations will be required for our crew as part of our plan for your return to working on our ships."

The cruise line does not yet know how or when the vaccine would be distributed to crew members, as it may depend on the country of residence, the timing of the next contract and whether the crew is already on board or traveling. 

Royal Caribbean's decision to vaccinate its crew members follows Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. decision to do the same.

The email did not mention at all if guests would be required to get the vaccine.

The decision was originally reported by Crew-Center after they shared the contents of the email.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reached out to the Royal Caribbean Group for confirmation that crew members will indeed be vaccinated. They shared this statement.

"We have been working in collaboration with government authorities, medical professionals and experts to continue to develop our plan to keep our guests, crew and communities we visit safe. The new COVID-19 vaccines present a new opportunity to do just that. The vaccines are a way to build protection for everyone involved and we continue to look into all options that will assist in keeping people safe. "

Whether or not guests will have to be vaccinated is a decision that Royal Caribbean will look to the Healthy Sail Panel to make.

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain shared a video update in January 2021 that a decision on that should be made "reasonably soon".

Mr. Fain's response put the decision on if requiring the vaccine is a good idea on the panel of experts so that the cruise line can make the best decision based on the panel's guidance.

"We have the experts and we'll let them guide us."

Reader opinions

RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers have already begun sharing their opinions on the crew being vaccinated on our message boards.

Twangster wrote, "No surprise really.  Personally I think they'll leave guest requirements to public health agencies but ultimately vaccines will be required."

"I can see many countries around the world establishing a vaccine requirement for international visitors.  Pick a popular ship destination.  If this vaccine requirement becomes real even for one stop of a cruise itinerary that will mean guests and crew are required to be vaccinated. "

Monctonguy thinks this is part of many changes the world will undergo, "Vaccine cards/passport will be the norm in the next couple years for flying, cruising, hotels stays concert events."

What is the best mask to wear on a cruise ship?


Like it or not, wearing a face mask is all but a certainty once cruises restart.

When cruise ships can hit the water again, you might be wondering what are the best kinds of masks to get for comfort, safety and compliance with CDC guidelines.

Unlike at the start of the global health crisis, there are a ton of different masks you can purchase, so which ones are the best for your family?

Will we need to wear a mask on a cruise ship?

You will very likely need to wear a mask on a cruise ship when they restart sailing again.

While Royal Caribbean has not divulged its full set of protocols for North American or European cruises, every cruise line that has managed to restart requires masks onboard.

Even Quantum of the Seas in Singapore requires masks, and Carnival Cruise Line just announced their policies, which also require masks.

Royal Caribbean's current policy for Quantum of the Seas is masks are required for guests who 6 years old and older.

Masks are required on Quantum of the Seas pretty much anywhere, except for in the pool, while actively eating or drinking, or in your stateroom.

Carnival requires masks for anyone over the age of two years old.

What kind of masks are not allowed?

Before we hit the top masks to look into, you should be aware of a few kind of masks that are not allowed.

In line with the CDC's recommendations, Royal Caribbean requires Quantum of the Seas guests wear masks that have two or more layers, be worn over the nose and mouth, and fit snugly against the sides of your face and don’t have gaps.

The following type of masks are not allowed on Royal Caribbean:

  • neck gaiters
  • open chin bandanas and scarves
  • face masks with valves

What are the best masks to wear on a cruise?

There are lots of masks to purchase, but without a doubt one of the best options right now based on recommendations from health experts is a KN95 face mask. [Note, this contains an affiliate link]

Early on, these medical grade masks were hard to come by, but you should be able to purchase as many as you want these days.

KN95 masks offer very high performance in terms of filtration, and are comfortable to wear while providing a snug fit around your nose and chin.

KN95 masks are also fairly cheap, as production as ramped up so there are lots to consider.  

Cloth mask

If you prefer a reusable mask, you should look for a woven mask that offers multi-layer protection.

Since going on a cruise means it will be hot, the masks by Suay LA tend to get very good reviews for offering a breathable mask that is good in hot weather.

These are constructed from medical grade non-woven polypropylene surgical wrap and have a nosepiece. 


Backup masks

You should plan on bringing many more masks than you think you will need, because once masks become soiled and/or wet, they are not effective anymore.

In addition to purchasing more KN95 or cloth masks, another economical idea is to pick up disposable 3-ply face masks. [Note, this contains an affiliate link]

These disposable masks are a good back-up choice, as well as a good choice if you elect to double mask. 

How many masks should I bring on my cruise?

Depending on how active or if you sweat a lot, your mask needs may vary.

A good idea is to plan on 2-3 masks per person, per day to be safe.

Many reusable masks, including the Suay LA ones, can be hand-washed and dried overnight in your stateroom cabin.

Even if you prefer the cloth reusable masks, having some disposable masks is a good backup just in case. 

More important mask tips

  • If you wear glasses, find a mask that fits closely over your nose or one that has a nose wire to limit fogging. 
  • Be sure to also look for masks with a soft ear loop material.  You will be wearing the mask for long periods of time, and one early lesson many picked up on over the past year was softer material for ear loops matters.  

Carnival announces new health protocols including masks, social distancing, testing and more


While we wait for Royal Caribbean to reveal their health protocols for cruises from North America or Europe, rival cruise line Carnival shared their plans.

Carnival Cruise Line revealed its new health protocols for its cruise ships once they restart that include a variety of comprehensive changes for guests and crew members.

Carnival is calling it its "CruiseHealth Program", and it applies to all of Carnival Corporations brands as well. These rules are evolving, and Carnival expects them to change with new insight into public health evolves.

The goal of these protocols is to keep guests, crew members, shoreside employees, and ports ships visit healthy from the global health crisis.


    • Only booked guests are permitted to enter the terminal and boarding area

    • Guests must arrive within their selected time to facilitate physical distancing during the check-in and boarding process 
      • Guests arriving earlier than their scheduled time will not be allowed to enter the terminal until the time of their arrival appointment
      • This also applies to VIFP Diamond/Platinum and Casino guests.


    • All guests and crew will be required to test negative for COVID-19 prior to embarkation
      • Every guest 2 years of age or older will be required to provide documentation of a negative SARS-CoV-2 test taken between 5 days to 24 hours prior to the date of embarkation
      • Guests must provide the original document confirming a negative test result that is legible, identifies the approved and licensed testing entity, sample collection date and type of test, and identity of the tested individual
    • Any guest who fails to provide the required documentation or testing at the terminal or on board will be denied boarding or disembarked, and no refund or credit will be issued.
    • If at any time within 14 days prior to embarkation, or at any time during the cruise, a guest tests positive for COVID-19, exhibits signs or symptoms of COVID-19, has had close contact with a person confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19, or Carnival otherwise determines in its sole discretion that guest is unfit to board due to risk of any communicable illness, guest shall be subject to denial of boarding, denial of re-boarding, quarantine, isolation and/or disembarkation.
    • Under these circumstances, unless the guest has failed or refused to comply with these Policies and Procedures, they will be provided with a Future Cruise Credit. 

    Health Screening

    • All guests will be required to complete a health questionnaire beginning 72 hours before the date of embarkation
      • Identification of symptoms or potential exposures does not automatically result in denial of boarding
    • All guests will have their temperature taken as part of the boarding process
    • Any guest who refuses to be tested, screened, or to follow these Carnival COVID-19 Policies and Procedures will be denied boarding, and no refund or credit will be issued
    • All guests, but especially those with an increased risk as identified by the CDC, should consult with their own physician about their own risk factors and tolerance

    Environmental Sanitization

    • Routinely use a safe disinfectant proven to quickly kill novel coronaviruses
    • Staterooms and public areas sanitized more frequently with cleaning and disinfection protocols developed in coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
    • Ships and terminals undergo more thorough sanitization between cruises
    • Expanded disinfection methods using emerging and advanced technologies that are proven effective against coronavirus and other germs

    Onboard the ship

    • Guests may be required to undergo at least daily temperature checks and must submit to any requested medical screening during the cruise
      • Temperature checks may also be conducted prior to disembarking at a port of call and before participating in certain onboard activities
    • Responsible physical distancing for all guests and crew managed by adjusting the flow, timing and size of groups
    • Hand Hygiene – Additional hand washing facilities and hand sanitizing stations positioned in high-traffic areas throughout the ship 
    • Health Information – providing regular health reminders about the ways to stay healthy onboard and when ashore

    Face masks

    • All guests over the age of two will be required to wear a mask when indoors except
      • Inside their own stateroom
      • Eating and drinking seated at a table
      • When using the cardio equipment at the gym and physical distancing is maintained
    • Guests are required to wear a mask outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained
    • Masks should have two or more layers and be worn over the nose and mouth.
    • Gaiters and bandanas are not allowed, and face shields are permitted when used with a mask.

    Social Distancing

    • Access to public spaces will be limited and venues/activities will operate at reduced capacity
    • Carnival may use a reservation system for our public areas, such as pools, gyms, casinos, restaurants, bars, and entertainment
    • Social distancing means staying at least six (6) feet (2 meters) apart from other people who are not the guest’s cruise companions (family or immediate travel group).
    • Guests can expect appropriately distanced seating in theaters, dining facilities and other common venues, modified entertainment showings and meal services to control capacity

    Contact Tracing

    • All guests may be required to provide identifying information and information about certain activities engaged in during the cruise so Carnival can perform contact tracing in the event any person on board is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.
    •  Various location tracking technologies may be used to assist in the collection of contact tracing information such as wearables, video surveillance, transaction data, and photographs taken during the cruise.

    Shore Excursions

    • Guests will only be allowed to participate in excursions or activities executed and escorted by vetted tour operators who maintain Carnival’s level of COVID-19 controls during the initial return to sailing.
    • Shore side visits may be also limited to port areas that have no public access. 
    • Self-exploration or non-Carnival sponsored excursions will not be permitted. 
    • Carnival may, in its sole discretion, avoid a pre-planned destination should a concern arise regarding the level of COVID-19 community spread in that destination or impose certain restrictions on shore excursions relating to capacity, participation, locations, times, eligible venues and persons with whom the guest may come into contact
    • Carnival may offer indoor excursions only if physical distancing, use of masks, and other recommended protective measures can be implemented.
    • Any noncompliance by guest or members of guest’s traveling party with Carnival COVID-19 Policies and Procedures shall be grounds for refusal to re-board after going ashore, or other steps deemed necessary in Carnival’s sole discretion to protect the health and safety of others.
      •  If a guest is denied boarding or disembarked due to failure to comply with Carnival COVID-19 Policies and Procedures, they will not be entitled to a refund, credit, or compensation of any kind. Guests will be responsible for all costs and fines, including without limitation travel expenses.

    You can read them all here.

    What about Royal Caribbean's rules?

    Thus far, Royal Caribbean has only announced its health policies for cruises on Quantum of the Seas from Singapore, although most are likely to be carried over to sailings elsewhere in the world.

    The Healthy Sail Panel, a joint venture between the Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, has been working since summer 2020 to craft policies for cruise ships to use onboard.

    The panel's 74 recommendations have become the cornerstone of the cruise industry's approach to a healthy return to sailing.  But those recommendations need to be converted into policy.

    Royal Caribbean has said the new protocols would be issued "relatively soon" for a while, although no timeline for its announcement has been shared.

    The delay in seeing Royal Caribbean's rules may be a product of the ever changing approach to the current health crisis.

    Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain spoke recently how the arrival of a vaccine has changed their outlook on the current situation.

    "Previously, we expected cruising to resume based on creating a virtual bubble of safety on a ship, even if the rest of the country was experiencing significant spread," he admitted to viewers.

    "Today we envision that the key, but not the exclusive factor, will be the vaccines rather than purely the protocols."

    Royal Caribbean's work in the two months that Quantum of the Seas has been sailing in Singapore has provided invaluable experience to run through a real-world situation that luckily had no repercussions.

    "The false positive gave us a real world chance to test our procedures, and they performed well."

    "Such experiences really allow us to test our processes and prepare better for a full operation."

    CDC hasn't provided technical instructions to cruises lines four months after lifting the No Sail Order


    There has been very little news on progress being made by any cruise line to conducting test cruises, and the reason might be because they are still waiting on what to do.

    When the U.S. Center for Disease Control Control (CDC) lifted the No Sail Order at the end of October and replaced it with the Framework for Conditional Sail Order, the agency outlined a series of steps required for cruises to be able to progress towards restarting.

    The first step was to provide technical instructions on what each ship needs to do in order to prepare itself for test cruises.

    Cruise Critic reported that cruise lines were still waiting for those instructions.

    In a statement from the CDC to RoyalCaribbeanBlog, the agency confirmed they have not yet delivered that first step.

    "Returning to passenger cruising is a phased approach and our current focus is on the protection of crew and working with cruise lines to implement the initial phase requirements of testing all crew and developing onboard laboratory capacity."

    "Future orders and technical instructions will address additional activities to help cruise lines prepare for and return to passenger operations in a manner that mitigates COVID-19 risk among passengers, crew members; including simulated voyages, certification for conditional sailing, and restricted voyages."

    "We anticipate the next phase of technical instructions (Technical Instructions for Port and Local Health Authorities Agreements) to be released in the next few weeks."

    Nearly four months after the No Sail Order was lifted, cruise lines are not much closer to restarting sailings in the United States as they were in the fall.

    The realization that progress was slow in terms of getting test cruises going became apparent in various statements by cruise line industry officials.

    Read moreEverything you need to know about Royal Caribbean test cruises

    Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald told investors during an earnings call that they were still waiting on additional guidelines from the CDC for future phases.

    Florida Ports Council Vice President of Governmental Affairs Michael Rubin told Florida's Senate Transportation Committee cruise lines are working to meet an “onerous” list of requirements from the CDC.

    Prior to cruise ships sailing again from the United States, test cruises will need to be conducted to demonstrate the cruise line's new protocols are effective.

    These simulated voyages will require volunteers to be onboard to help go through the variety of scenarios cruise lines need to test.

    Read moreTop 14 things the CDC requires cruise ships do on test sailings

    The new protocols would apply to crew and passengers and include things such as rapid testing, requiring face masks, social distancing and more.

    What are the technical instructions?

    When the CDC issued the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order that said any cruise line that wants to restart from the United States needs to apply for a conditional sailing certificate 60 days before a voyage.

    First, ships must implement testing and other protocols for the safe return of crew. Non-revenue test sailings will follow, with vessels then required to request and receive approval to resume sailing with passengers onboard.

    The CDC promised that further technical instructions will be posted on the CDC's website at a later date.

    Read moreRoyal Caribbean's Chief Medical Officer explains what needs be done to get approval to cruise again

    On its website, the CDC says the instructions are meant to ensure health and safety protections for the crew prior to resuming passenger operations in a way that mitigates the risk of spreading COVID-19.

    "The cruise ship operator must conduct a monitored observation period and laboratory testing of volunteer passengers, as directed in CDC technical instructions or orders, prior to embarking volunteer passengers on a simulated voyage."

    Other activities as may be listed in the forthcoming CDC technical instructions and orders.

    Florida Ports: Significant cruise ship numbers may take another year to return


    The road to recovery for cruise lines is not going to be a swift or easy one.

    At a meeting of Florida's Senate Transportation Committee, Florida Ports Council Vice President of Governmental Affairs, Michael Rubin, said it will be a while yet before cruise ship operations return to "significant" numbers.

    "I’m not sure we’ll have significant cruise operations until perhaps next year and even beyond that," Rubin told the committee.

    "Some of the smaller luxury liners … may not be operating till further than that, until there’s actual vaccines available around the world. We are concerned. We’re hopeful that they’ll allow them to operate at least half capacity here maybe in April, maybe in June. Hopefully, before that timeframe, because this is really, really troubling."

    Rubin represents the Florida Ports Council, which is a nonprofit group that represents major seaports in Florida. 

    Rubin added that cruise lines are working to meet an “onerous” list of requirements from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), with the hope of having some ships operating at half capacity by the summer of 2021.

    According to Rubin, one issue that has remained is to figure out is how to handle cruise passengers getting on or off a ship in a port of call.

    Mr. Rubin believes some high profile stories about cases on cruise ships from early 2020 are hindering progress to resume operations, "As you know, there was some high-profile incidents of passengers trying to get off and a few deaths out there."

    "So, we’re living with those high-profile incidents, and it can’t seem to get past it. … I think all of our ports and the cruise lines are trying to work with the CDC to say, ‘Look, we’re gonna have protocols, we’ll have masks, we’ll sail at half capacity so we can quarantine people if they need to be quarantined.’"

    He believes when cruises do restart, the cruise lines will adopt a series of new rules, "I think all of our ports and the cruise lines are trying to work with the CDC to say we’ll have protocols, we’ll have masks, we’ll sail at half capacity so we can quarantine people if they need to be quarantined."

    The CDC recently added a new order that requires anyone on a cruise ship to wear a face mask.

    Mr. Rubin's comments come a few weeks after Port Canaveral estimated some cruises might return in July. Neither Port Canaveral nor Mr. Rubin's comments are based on any cruise line statements.

    Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain tackled the question of when cruises might restart with the answer everyone has known for months: no one yet knows for certain.

    "My answer is consistently, I don't know. But more recently, my answer has been, I don't know, but that's the good direction to be going in."

    "It's going to take a while and we just need to be patient."

    "But it is happening and these early cruises are going to give us information that will help inform how we can operate safely and that's going to give us all confidence in an earlier and safer restart."

    CDC will require everyone to wear face masks on cruise ships


    When cruises restart, passengers onboard will have to wear a mask.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) passed a new order that requires people to wear masks on public transportation.

    "Persons must wear masks over the mouth and nose when traveling on conveyances into and within the United States. Persons must also wear masks at transportation hubs as defined in this Order."

    The order pertains to forms of travel including aircraft, train, road vehicle, vessel or other means of transport.

    The order goes into effect as of February 1, 2021.

    It applies within any state, locality, territory, with the exceptions of while eating, drinking, or taking medication, for brief periods.

    Children under 2 years old are exempt, as well as a person with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, because of the disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Cruise lines must provide adequate notice of the rule and disembarking any person who refuses to comply. Moreover, guests should be made aware that Federal law requires wearing a mask on the conveyance and failure to comply constitutes a violation of Federal law.

    The new rules require what the cruise lines have already agreed to do on their own.

    The Healthy Sail Panel proposed passengers and crew members wear face masks on cruise ships back in September 2020.

    Read moreRoyal Caribbean new cruise ship health protocols include masks, social distancing, testing and more

    Royal Caribbean specified in its rules face masks will be required on its cruise ships when they return to service, with exceptions similar to what the CDC outlined.

    Specifically, Royal Caribbean says guests should wear face masks in nearly all public settings regardless of physical distancing measures but will not be required to wear face masks in their own stateroom.

    There are exceptions, however, such as dining venues, where guests can eat and drink without face masks while seated, provided physical distancing is observed. All restaurant seating will be arranged to allow for physical distancing, so guests can eat and drink without face masks while seated, and tables and chairs will be disinfected.

    Read moreWhere and when will you have to wear a mask on a Royal Caribbean cruise

    Also, guests should not wear masks while engaged in activities that may cause the mask to become wet, like when swimming in our pools, or when participating in strenuous activities, such as jogging, running, or fitness classes at the Vitality Spa and Fitness Center.

    Face masks will be required at all bars or nightclubs when not seated and actively eating or drinking with your party. 

    Crew members will wear masks at all times, and gloves.

    It is unclear yet if Royal Caribbean will change any of these protocols based on this new order.

    The rationale for the new rule is aimed at ensuring people in close contact are not putting the public health at risk.

    "Traveling on multi-person conveyances increases a person’s risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 by bringing persons in close contact with others, often for prolonged periods, and exposing them to frequently touched surfaces.

    "Air travel often requires spending time in security lines and crowded airport terminals. Social distancing may be difficult if not impossible on flights. People may not be able to distance themselves by the recommended 6 feet from individuals seated nearby or those standing in or passing through the aircraft’s aisles."

    Read more5 ways cruise ships have tougher COVID-19 protocols than airplanes

    "Travel by bus, train, vessel, and other conveyances used for international, interstate, or intrastate transportation pose similar challenges."

    The CDC believes using masks along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched
    surfaces, is one of the most effective strategies available for reducing COVID-19 transmission.

    More information

    Canada will require tourists to quarantine in hotels in order to discourage international travel


    While it remains unclear what will happen with Alaska cruises in 2021, it looks like Canada is not yet moving in a direction friendly to cruises.

    The Canadian government has added a mandate for travelers entering the country to quarantine at a hotel at their own expense.

    The Canadian government is looking to discourage international travel by adding these tougher rules. By requiring isolation in a hotel instead of a house, it would mean an added expense for travelers to incur.

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement on Friday.

    "Travelers will then have to wait for up to three days at an approved hotel for their test results, at their own expense, which is expected to be more than $2000," Trudeau said.

    "Those with negative test results will then be able to quarantine at home under significantly increased surveillance and enforcement."

    The cost includes the hotel stay, as well as a private PCR test, security, food and the cost of measures the designated hotels will have to take to keep their workers safe.

    Read moreWill there be any Alaska cruises in 2021?

    Canada's new rule mirrors Australia's rule, which requires most travelers to quarantine at a government-arranged hotel for 14 days for $2,800 AUD per adult and $4,620 AUD for a family of four.

    The U.K. also introduced a similar rule earlier this week to require citizens arriving from dozens of high-risk countries to quarantine in hotels for 10 days at their own expense.

    Since March, Canada has banned non-essential travel into the country by anyone that is not a citizen, as well as banning cruise ships from its waters until at least February 28, 2021.

    There is already a rule that requires those entering Canada to self-isolate for 14 days and to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days before arrival. 

    Rules like this, as well as the ban on cruise ships, makes operating cruise ships to Alaska or New England effectively impossible because U.S. cabotage laws require foreign-flagged vessels leaving from a U.S. port of call to first call on a "distant foreign port" before returning to the United States.

    Read moreComparing the Royal Caribbean ships sailing in Alaska 2021

    Along with the No Sail order in the United States, Royal Caribbean was unable to offer cruises to Alaska in 2020, but a ban from Canada would prevent any Alaska cruises from operating.

    Those who do not comply with the prohibition could be subject to penalties: $5,000 per day for individuals and $25,000 per day for corporations.