Updated: Royal Caribbean says USVI prohibiting ships with unvaccinated passengers

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Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas is scheduled to call in St. Thomas next week. Pictured: Ships in the Charlotte Amalie cruise port.
Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas is scheduled to call in St. Thomas next week. Pictured: Ships in the Charlotte Amalie cruise port.

This report was updated to clarify that St. Kitts does not have a capacity cap on cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean International said the U.S. Virgin Islands is not allowing cruise ships to visit its ports unless all passengers ages 12 and up are vaccinated for Covid-19.

The USVI government informed Royal Caribbean about its new policy, the line said in a statement on Aug. 2.

Because of the new policy, Royal Caribbean said it is now requiring that all eligible passengers must be fully vaccinated for the virus if the cruise includes a USVI port call.

"Guests unable to show proof of vaccination will not be allowed to sail," Royal Caribbean said.

Guests under the age of 12 are exempt since they are not eligible for a Covid vaccine. However, they must test negative for Covid at boarding and follow certain protocols while on the ship.

Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas was scheduled to call in St. Thomas on a seven-day cruise departing Port Canaveral on Aug. 8. Royal informed them of the USVI's new policy and offered unvaccinated passengers a full refund or the opportunity to take a different cruise.

The USVI government could not be reached for confirmation of changes to its policy. Travel requirements for travelers arriving in the territory, currently published on the USVI's tourism website do not reference the requirement cited by Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean will skip St. Kitts

The Allure cruise will be impacted by another change in the itinerary, Royal said: The ship will skip its call in St. Kitts and sub in St. Maarten.

In its communication with booked passengers, Royal said that St. Kitts was restricting cruise visits to ships with 700 passengers or fewer, Royal said. However, a statement Aug. 3 from St. Kitts and Nevis said that there were no capacity limitations. "The cruise protocols for the resumption of cruise tourism do not place limits on the number of passengers allowed to enter the Federation on a cruise ship," said Lindsay Grant, the country's minister of tourism, transport and ports. 

A Royal Caribbean spokeswoman later said that St. Kitts was removed from the Allure itinerary "due to additional health protocols that will limit our ability to visit the island."

Updated: This report was updated Aug. 3 to include a statement from St. Kitts regarding a non-capacity cap for cruise ships, and an additional statement from Royal Caribbean about its reason to drop St. Kitts as a call on the Allure Aug. 8 cruise.  It also was updated to include informtion about the USVI's published entry requirements for visitors.

Gay Nagle Myers and Johanna Jainchill contributed to this report.

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