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New USVI COVID-19 Protocol For Cruise Ships Improves Royal Caribbean’s Safety

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Royal Caribbean International said the territory won’t allow cruise ships to visit its ports unless all passengers ages 12 and up are vaccinated against COVID-19.

The local government informed Royal Caribbean about its new policy on Monday, the cruise line said in a statement.

Because of the new policy, Royal Caribbean said it is now requiring that all eligible passengers must be fully vaccinated for the virus if the cruise includes a U.S. Virgin Islands port call.

“Guests unable to show proof of vaccination will not be allowed to sail,” Royal Caribbean said.

Guests under the age of 12 are exempt since they are not eligible for a COVID vaccine. However, they must test negative for COVID at boarding and follow certain protocols while on the ship.

Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas is scheduled to call in St. Thomas on a seven-day cruise departing Port Canaveral on August 8. In a communication with booked passengers, Royal informed them of the USVI’s new policy and offered unvaccinated passengers a full refund or the opportunity to take a different cruise.

The Allure cruise will be impacted by another change, showing the complexity of planning multi-port cruise itineraries during a pandemic. St. Kitts is restricting cruise visits to ships with 700 passengers or fewer, Royal said.

“We’ll now visit Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, instead,” Royal Caribbean said in the communication to passengers.

Grenada is another Caribbean island that is allowing only adult vaccinated travelers at airports and cruise ports.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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