Will Royal Caribbean Require Passengers To Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?

Explorer of the Seas leaving Seattle

The work of the Healthy Sail Panel in 2020 was pre-vaccine and the rollout of a vaccine changes things, according to Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain.

Speaking on the company's business update call on Monday morning, Fain would not commit to requiring a COVID-19 vaccine for passengers.

A number of cruise operators have already committed to requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for guests to sail, but Royal Caribbean has yet to follow suit. 

"We're really in an interim period where the vaccines are still relatively new," Fain said.

"They're coming out amazingly quickly, but it still is going to take months to get huge numbers of people vaccinated. And so we and the CDC and governments around the world are looking at how that would change it. And we don't have answers yet."

Fain said people would look to see how effective vaccines are first, pointing to Israel, where the vaccination level is among the highest in the world he said.

"And, therefore, they're able to make some very significant statistical correlations," Fain continued. "And one of the things that you've seen coming out of there, for example, is that the number of people who get the disease or who have been vaccinated is the efficacy is as high or higher than the trials that were done, and this is now on larger numbers of people. So that makes it even more reliable.

"But more significantly, they're also saying the ability to prevent the disease being serious in people is even better than that. So these are -- in the history of vaccines in the world, these are really exciting levels that give us all a lot of hope. But we really need to see it in practice, and it's really hard to say while we're not yet at a point where enough people have been vaccinated that you could say, okay, everybody onboard will have to be vaccinated."

Fain called the vaccine the ultimate weapon, but said that governments around the world, nor the Healthy Sail Panel, have been able to define what a approach for requiring a vaccine to cruise would look like.

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