Royal Caribbean says vaccines will be mandated on all cruises, except ones setting sail from Florida

(Royal Caribbean)

Royal Caribbean clarified its vaccine policy ahead of the cruise line's return to U.S. ports next month, saying Monday that all passengers 16 and older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, except for on ships setting sail from Florida.

On Aug. 1, all passengers who are 12 or older must be fully vaccinated in Texas and Washington state, but the Florida policy will remain the same for now.

The cruise line said it expects 90% of passengers to be vaccinated in Florida, despite the lack of a mandate. The 10% who aren't vaccinated will "be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols at their own expense." 

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis banned "vaccine passports" in May, and sued the Biden administration a month before that over the CDC's "conditional sailing order," which says that 95% of cruise line passengers must be fully vaccinated. 

Two vaccinated passengers on board a Celebrity Cruises ship, which is owned by Royal Caribbean Group, tested positive for COVID-19 last Thursday.

"All guests on Celebrity Millennium were required to show proof of vaccination as well as a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before sailing from St. Maarten this past Saturday," the cruise line said in a statement

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Instances of vaccinated people testing positive for COVID-19, also known as "breakthrough infections," are exceedingly rare. Through April, only 10,262 of 101 million fully vaccinated Americans became infected, according to the CDC

Royal Caribbean's first ship to take off from a U.S. port since the pandemic began will set sail from Miami on July 2. Ships will set sail from Seattle starting July 19, and from Texas starting Aug. 15. 

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