Hours after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an extension of the Conditional Sailing Order, Royal Caribbean released its health protocols for cruises departing the United States in November 2021.

Guests booked on November cruises received an email with the health rules they can expect if sailing on a cruise ship in November.

Protocols have been released for ships sailing from the United States, as well a separate policy for ships sailing from Puerto Rico. You should, refer to Royal Caribbean’s protocols online.

Here is the list of protocols for ships sailing from the United States (excluding Puerto Rico), including government mandates and CDC pre-cruise testing requirements. 

Required Pre-Cruise Testing: Guests will need to meet the new requirements recently issued by the U.S. CDC.

Vaccinated guests 12 years and older are required to present a negative COVID-19 Test Result (antigen or PCR) for a test taken no more than 2 days prior to the sailing’s departure date and before their arrival to the terminal.

Unvaccinated kids age 2 to 11 must show a negative test result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 3 days before boarding day. Kids’ pre-cruise test cannot be taken on boarding day, because that may affect the sample taken during the kids’ test at the terminal.

No testing required for guests under age 2.

Pre-cruise tests are at the expense of the guest sailing, as well as scheduling.

Royal Caribbean recommends guests use the at-home test they recently approved for use and now sell directly to passengers via RoyalCaribbean.com/HomeTestKit

Kids Age 2-11 Years: Additional Testing

In addition to the pre-cruise test, kids will take one or two more tests. 

At the Terminal:  Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 years are required to take a PCR test for COVID-19 when checking in at the terminal. Registration details for this test will be sent via email in advance. This test is complimentary.

Prior to Disembarking: Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 will take a complimentary antigen test prior to debark. Depending on sailing length, there may be additional testing. Registration details will be provided onboard.

Guests under 2 years of age will not be tested.

Masks are required in the terminal, in select locations inside the ship, and may be required at various destinations. Guests under 2 years old don’t need a mask. 

Masks are NOT required to be worn:

Masks ARE required to be worn:

Some venues and nightlife events will be for vaccinated guests age 12 and up, only. Masks won’t be required in these venues. Vaccinated parents are invited to enjoy these experiences while their kids not present.

For Main Dining, Royal Caribbean will designate areas for everyone, including parents and unvaccinated children, and areas for vaccinated parties only.

My Time Dining will not be available to parties that include unvaccinated guests. Some specialty restaurants will be open to everyone, while others will be for vaccinated parties only. 

Other venues

The ship’s venues are set up to easily allow for physical distancing and there will be signage to guide passengers.

Theaters and activity venues will offer spaced seating and more showtimes. Some activities, showtimes, or seating areas will be reserved for vaccinated guests only.

The Fitness Center has operating hours for everyone as well as hours reserved for vaccinated guests only.

Spa services, except those offered in treatment rooms, are available to everyone.

Shore Excursions

Fully vaccinated parties may book a shore excursion or visit most ports freely — with the exception of those listed below, which will require tours for all guests who wish to go ashore, regardless of their vaccination status.

Families traveling with unvaccinated kids must purchase a local tour through Royal Caribbean if they wish to go ashore. This applies to all ports of call except Perfect Day at CocoCay, and Port Canaveral, Florida. 

Cruises from Puerto Rico

Explorer of the Seas is scheduled to restart cruises from San Juan, Puerto Rico in November and there are slightly different protocols for these sailings.

I’ve noted the major differences for cruises from Puerto Rico, but otherwise the same protocols for U.S. sailings apply.

For guests above the age of 2, Puerto Rico requires a negative PCR or antigen Covid-19 test result for certain travelers to enter depending on their vaccination status and point of origin.

If you’re flying in from the U.S.

If you’re flying in from an international country

If you are already in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico does not require a test from you.

Embarkation Day

To board the ship, you will need to bring a negative PCR or antigen test result to the cruise terminal. It can be the same result you used to enter Puerto Rico, provided you time it right.

Kids Age 2-11 Years: Additional Testing

In addition to the pre-cruise test, unvaccinated kids will take two more tests. Royal Caribbean’s test provider will administer these, at no cost to guests.

At the Terminal
Kids will take a complimentary PCR test when checking in at the terminal. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.

Prior to Disembarking
Kids will take a complimentary antigen test onboard before the cruise ends. Vaccinated guests who require a COVID-19 test for re-entry into their country may receive one onboard as well. Guests will be notified onboard about how to register for this test.

Guests under 2 years of age do not have test requirements to board the ship.