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Royal Caribbean International will no longer require any of its cruise passengers to be vaccinated for COVID-19 as it had previously planned to.
In a press release Friday announcing cruises for sale on eight of its ships from U.S. ports this summer, starting with Freedom of the Seas from PortMiami on July 2, the company said it will recommend passengers get the COVID-19 vaccine, but not require it. The announcement is a reversal from previous statements andvaccine protocols the company submitted to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month that said it would require all passengers at least 18 years old and older to be vaccinated.
The about-face is an apparent submission to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has insisted that there will be no exception made for cruise companies to a newly passed Florida law that fines companies $5,000 each time they ask a patron to provide proof of vaccination. Royal Caribbean International’s sister brand Celebrity Cruises (both owned by Royal Caribbean Group) is still requiring all passengers 16 years old or older be vaccinated on its seven-night Caribbean cruises that are restarting from Port Everglades on June 26.
The recently passed Florida law crafted by the Republican-controlled state Legislature and promoted by Gov. Ron DeSantis bars businesses, schools and government entities across Florida from asking anyone to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination. Under the law, which takes effect on July 1, businesses can be fined up to $5,000 per violation.