(5:55 p.m. EDT) -- Royal Caribbean outlined its vaccination requirements for cruises from a variety of U.S. homeports, and they are as varied and different as the destinations itself.
Royal Caribbean's Healthy Sail Center has clarified that all cruises departing from U.S. homeports -- excluding Florida -- will require passengers 16 and older to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Beginning August 1, that drops to all passengers 12 and over. Children who are not eligible to be vaccinated will still be allowed onboard, but families with unvaccinated children will have to follow additional protocols that will include additional PCR testing, masking and physical distancing.
With no standardized rule for vaccinations across Royal Caribbean's entire sailing schedule within the United States, the onus will be on cruisers to familiarize themselves with the line's policies and health and safety measures -- and ensure they know and understand them prior to setting sail.
A rundown of the line's U.S. departure requirements:
Cruises aboard Serenade of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas sailing from Seattle to Alaska will require all passengers over the age of 16 (12 after August 1) to present proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. The final dose must have taken place no later than 14 days prior to sailing.
Passengers under the listed ages will receive a COVID-19 PCR test before boarding.
All passengers must provide proof of vaccination, along with all other travel documents, upon arrival to the ship. Only original vaccination documents are accepted; no photocopies or screen captures will be accepted.
All passengers over age 12 are required to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination to embark Independence of the Seas in Galveston. The final dose must have been administered at least 14 days before embarkation.
Passengers under 12 do not need to be vaccinated and will be PCR-tested at the pier. Passengers younger than 12 years of age who happen to have been vaccinated should bring their vaccination cards with them.
Royal Caribbean will only accept original vaccination cards at embarkation.
Passengers sailing from Florida will be strongly encouraged to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Those who can't -- or won't -- present proof of COVID-19 vaccination will need to undergo additional PCR testing at their own expense and will need to follow other health and safety protocols such as masking and social distancing onboard.
Costs for the PCR testing for unvaccinated passengers sailing from Florida are still being determined.
International departures open to Americans and other citizens are much more straightforward. Basically, if you are an adult and able to be vaccinated, you'll need to be -- and be ready to present proof of vaccination as well.
Similar to Alaska, guests setting out onboard Adventure of the Seas from Nassau will need to present proof of vaccination against COVID-19. This applies to children 16 and older now, and children 12 and older beginning August 1.
Cruises departing from Cyprus and Spain this summer will require passengers over the age of 18 to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19. Passengers under the age of 18 will undergo PCR testing at the pier.
Across the board, those who are already fully vaccinated don't need to worry about a thing: They can embark their sailing without issue.
Those traveling with children who cannot be vaccinated yet, or those adults who have not yet been vaccinated, though, will need to read the rules and regulations carefully to determine where -- and when -- they can sail.
While these health and safety protocols will not be in place forever, they are in place for the foreseeable future aboard select sailings as Royal Caribbean restarts its domestic and global cruise operations.
Updated June 15, 2021