Royal Caribbean Backtracks Vaccination Mandate for Florida, Texas Passengers
Royal Caribbean cruises are back — but vaccinations will be optional. The travel company announced on Friday that an additional six ships will resume trips from US ports in Florida and Texas starting in July and August.
In a statement, Royal Caribbean said that while all crew members will be vaccinated against COVID-19, guests are "strongly recommended to set sail fully vaccinated" but will not be mandated to do so nor show verification.
"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," Royal Caribbean said on Friday.
The decision is a stark reversal from the company's initial vaccine mandate announced last month, which required vaccinations for all passengers over 16 years old on ships sailing from the US and the Bahamas.
After Friday's announcement, Royal Caribbean's frequently asked questions page has been updated to show that vaccines will only be required for ships departing from Seattle, Washington and the Bahamas.
The reversal comes on the heels of efforts by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to prohibit vaccine requirements, including a recently passed bill that fines businesses $5,000 each time they request proof of vaccination. A similar policy that bans certain companies for requesting vaccine verification was enacted by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in April.