(Updated 5:05 p.m. EST) -- Royal Caribbean has paused bookings for cruises departing through mid-January 2022 in response to the omicron variant of COVID-19.
The line made the decision to do so in order to limit capacity on near-term sailings.
"Royal Caribbean International has a set of multilayered health and safety protocols that safeguards the well-being of our guests, our crew and the communities we visit," the line said in a statement provided to Cruise Critic.
"Cruises departing through early January 2022 are unavailable to new reservations because our ships will continue sailing with a limited capacity to accommodate physical distancing. These sailings were removed from our website as we’ve done with previous cruises in 2021.
"Additional layers of our measures include vaccination requirements for our guests and crew, a facemask policy, pre-cruise testing for all guests, and weekly testing for every crew member."
Vicki Freed, Senior vice president of Sales, Trade Support and Service with Royal Caribbean, also sent a statement out, adding that, "Sailings departing through early January 2022 are no longer open to new reservations because they’ve met the limited capacity we’ve set. Changes to existing bookings, such as upgrades or stateroom adjustments are still being accommodated, although subject to availability.”
The sailings affected have only been removed from the website and booking engine in order to limit capacity and are still planned to sail as scheduled.
Cruise lines had been starting to increase capacity in the fall as restart operations continued. With the emergence of the omicron variant in late November, lines have begun implementing more stringent health and safety protocols, including updating masking mandates and banning smoking in onboard casinos.