Last-minute Royal Caribbean COVID changes causing possible cancellations

A last minute COVID-19 protocol change from Royal Caribbean last Thursday left passengers scrambling to get tested for COVID-19 or be forced to cancel their cruise.

Doug and Sharon Ward, of Sammamish, told KIRO 7 News they received an email from Royal Caribbean with a last minute “protocol update.”

The update said, “All guests ages 2 and up, vaccinated or unvaccinated are required to provide a negative PCR or antigen test. This test must be taken no more than 3 days prior to your sail date.”

Their understanding when they booked the cruise was it was supposed to be a 100% vaccinated cruise.

The Wards said the change left them with only three-and-a-half days to get tested and get the results before their ship was set to sail.

Appointments near them would have cost $200 each and the closest free tests they were able to find were in Yakima.

Due to Doug Ward’s recent Parkinson’s diagnosis, traveling to Yakima was not a viable option.

The Wards were told if their results weren’t in on time, they would be considered “no shows” and they would be out $4,000.

More frustration came from Royal Caribbean’s policy to only offer free testing to unvaccinated to children ages 2 to 11.

The Wards felt like they were forced to cancel or pay the $200 each to get tested.

Royal Caribbean released to the following statement to KIRO 7 News:

In an abundance of caution and to ensure that our guests, our crew and the communities we visit remain healthy, we are requiring all guests over the age of 2, regardless of vaccine status, to provide a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding sailings 5 nights or longer. This new policy is for all Royal Caribbean International cruises departing the U.S. from July 31 to Aug. 31. The test must be taken no more than three days prior to sailing, and proof of negative results must be shown at check-in.

All other testing requirements and policies are still in place. This is an additional layer of precaution for everyone’s well-being. We will continue to monitor public health circumstances as they evolve and make necessary adjustments to our measures.