Royal Caribbean Group, Norwegian likely will require crew to get COVID-19 vaccines before boarding cruise ships

Royal Caribbean and Norwegian are planning to require crew members to be fully vaccinated.

Royal Caribbean Group, parent to Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea cruise lines, will likely require its crew members to be vaccinated before boarding ships, Jonathon Fishman, spokesperson for Royal Caribbean Group, told USA TODAY Friday.

“We sent a crew letter out saying that we’d require vaccines,” Fishman said, confirming the veracity of the letter to crew published on Crew Center, a website run by ex-crew members, on Wednesday. 

“So far, several vaccines have shown to be effective at preventing both mild and severe symptoms of COVID-19, and we intend to make them a key component of our healthy return to service,” the letter reads. “Therefore, we expect vaccinations will be required for our crew as part of our plan for your return to working on our ships.”

Fishman added that the company “expects” that vaccines will be required, though nothing is “set in stone.”

In the letter to crew members, Royal Caribbean said it didn’t have answers yet as to “how, when and where” crew members could get the vaccine.

Fishman was unable to answer whether passengers would be required to be vaccinated to board a cruise with Royal Caribbean.

However, in the letter to crew, Royal Caribbean said that based on decisions from other cruise lines, including American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines, to require COVID-19 vaccines before boarding for passengers and crew members, that the industry seems to be headed in that direction. 

“The health of our crew and guests remains our No. 1 priority,” Fishman said. “At this point in our planning, based on science and the guidance of our experts, we are shifting from a strategy based primarily on protocols to one that is based on vaccines, supported by protocols.”

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., which is parent to Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, is closely monitoring the “evolving impacts” of COVID-19 along with vaccine developments, Andrea DeMarco, senior vice president of investor relations for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., told USA TODAY Friday.

“We are exploring all options regarding vaccinations for guests and crew, and it is our intention that all crew members be vaccinated before boarding our vessels to begin their duties, subject to availability of the vaccine,” DeMarco said.

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