(3:05 p.m. EDT) -- Royal Caribbean International has unveiled health and safety protocols for its Summer 2021 cruises to Alaska, the first of which sets sail in less than three weeks' time.
Royal Caribbean's Alaska sailings begin from Seattle on July 19, when Serenade of the Seas sets out for Alaska on its first revenue cruise in 16 months. A staple of the Alaskan cruise scene, it will be joined by larger fleetmate Ovation of the Seas beginning on August 13.
The line recently unveiled its onboard health and safety protocols for the Florida-based Freedom of the Seas, which include heavy restrictions on non-vaccinated passengers and a mandate to purchase required COVID-19 tests and medical insurance.
Protocols for Serenade of the Seas, however, are a bit different, owing to the fact that all passengers over the age of 16 (and over 12 beginning August 1) must present proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Only children under the cut-off age will be allowed onboard unvaccinated.
For unvaccinated passengers between the ages of two and 15, a PCR test will be mandatory at the terminal prior to embarkation. Booked passengers will be notified by email about how this process will take place.
Unvaccinated passengers will also require an antigen test prior to the end of the voyage. Passengers who need an antigen or PCR test in order to re-enter their home countries will be able to receive these onboard, free of charge.
Mask usage and physical distancing will be required onboard, except when actively eating or drinking, when inside their cabins or out on deck.
Families travelling with unvaccinated children will be unable to use My Time Dining, and certain public rooms will be designated for fully-vaccinated passengers only. This includes the casino and spa treatment rooms, and other public areas as designated.
Ship-sponsored shore excursions will also be mandatory for those going ashore with, or travelling with, unvaccinated children. That means no independent exploration in any ports of call for those travelling with unvaccinated children.
Fully vaccinated passengers not travelling with unvaccinated children may take part in ship-sponsored tours, or explore independently ashore at their leisure.
In addition to packing their passports, COVID-19 vaccination certificates and cruise documents, there is another important necessity cruisers should familiarize themselves with: the Royal Caribbean app.
The app will be key to making onboard dining and entertainment reservations, booking shore excursions, and more. It doesn't cost anything to use (and does not require the purchase of an internet package), but it is a good idea to download this to your smartphone at home prior to setting sail.
Passengers will also be able to choose a check-in time via the app. Passengers who arrive earlier than their check-in time will not be accommodated and will have to wait until their designated time. Passengers who miss their designated time slot will need to wait until they can be placed in a later group.
While Royal Caribbean has already sold out its July departures to Alaska, voyages aboard Serenade of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas are still available for booking this August and September.
View the entire list of protocols for Alaska sailings here.