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Richard Fain: Unvaccinated guests will face hassles

Unvaccinated adults who cruise on a Royal Caribbean International ship will face more restrictions and higher costs than guests who are vaccinated for Covid-19, Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain said Monday.

Just three days after Royal Caribbean International reversed its policy mandating vaccines for guests age 12 and older, Fain released a video for travel advisors saying the cruise must follow “the law of land” concerning Florida legislation that prohibits companies from asking for proof of vaccination. But that doesn’t change the line’s forecast that most guests will be vaccinated.

“We do not believe that we will have significant numbers of unvaccinated for several reasons,” he said. “Remember, the vast bulk of our guests want vaccinations, and in most cases, already have them. In addition, due to health and legal requirements of many jurisdictions, those who are unvaccinated will need to undergo additional testing and other restrictions. That necessarily adds to their cost and adds limitations on the cruise for those people who choose to be unvaccinated. There would be no additional cost for children who are not eligible for the vaccine.

“Our plan therefore continues to be that virtually everyone who’s eligible for a vaccine will have one,” Fain said.

Fain cited surveys that show “the vast majority have either already received the vaccination or were about to do so. Ideally everyone onboard would be vaccinated, but in practice, there have to be some exceptions.”

And while Fain said that children under age 12 are the primary exception, “studies have shown that children are a lesser source of infection than adults.”

Fain said that on Royal Caribbean Group brands that carry fewer children, Celebrity and Silversea, “We will ensure that the percent vaccinated will exceed 95%.” He did not address whether Celebrity would still mandate vaccines on its upcoming sailings from Florida on the Celebrity Edge.

Fain assured travel advisors that Royal Caribbean would not resume cruises unless the company was confident in passenger and crew safety. He added that the guest experience must “meet our exacting expectations.” He said Royal expects to achieve guest ratings “at least equal to what they were pre-pandemic.”

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