Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas will begin cruising July 2 from Miami on three- to four-night trips.
Unvaccinated and vaccinated passengers aboard the ship will have different cruising experiences.
Unvaccinated guests can't access the vaccinated-only parts of the ship and will have to pay extra for COVID-19 tests.
Royal Caribbean doesn't have a sweeping vaccine mandate for cruises sailing out of Florida. But if you're unvaccinated and sailing with the cruise line this July, you might not have the same cruising experience as your fellow vaccinated passengers.
Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas will bring passengers on three or four-night trips from Miami to the Bahamas and the cruise line's private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay, beginning July 2. All onboard crew and the majority of guests will be vaccinated, according to the cruise line's frequently asked questions page. Most of the unvaccinated passengers will be children.
Now, let's take a look at the differences between a vaccinated and unvaccinated passenger's experience aboard the upcoming Freedom of the Seas sailings.
Fully vaccinated guests can access every part of the ship, and won't need to wear a face covering at "vaccinated-only venues." Unvaccinated passengers won't have this same luxury: they'll have to wear masks indoors or in crowded outdoor locations unless they're eating and drinking, and won't be able to access select venues.
Locations that are vaccinated-only include:
Chef''s Table (restaurant)
Izumi Hibachi and Sushi (restaurant)
the main dining room on the third deck
Viking Crown Nightclub
Solarium Bar (for 21-years-old or older guests) and Pool (for 16-years-old or older guests)
70s Party in Studio B
some Studio B Ice Skating Show times
Casino Royale and Bar
The full list of vaccinated patrons-only venues is on Royal Caribbean's website.
Places open to both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests will have "spaced seating." Outdoor venues like pools and open-air decks will be available to all passengers.
On top of these onboard restrictions, unvaccinated guests will have to undergo several COVID-19 tests that vaccinated guests won't have to do. This amounts to an extra $136 out-of-pocket payment per unvaccinated passenger for Florida cruises sailing five nights or less in July. In August, this additional cost increases up to $178 for cruises sailing six nights or more (cruises five nights or less will still have a $136 payment per unvaccinated guest for the tests).
Over a week ago, the Freedom of the Seas also served as Royal Caribbean's "simulated voyage" cruise full of volunteers. The trial voyage was done to test the safety of the cruise ship - as per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's protocols - and was meant to precede the COVID-19 Conditional Sailing Certificate application needed for major cruise lines to resume passenger voyages.
After the sailing was complete, the cruise line received the aforementioned certificate for the ship, a Royal Caribbean spokesperson told Morgan Hines for a USA Today report.
Unlike other Royal Caribbean sailings, cruises out of Florida - including Freedom of the Seas - won't be sailing with a vaccine mandate due to the state's ban on vaccine passports. Any company - including cruise lines - that violates the ban could be fined $5,000 for every patron required to show proof of vaccination.
As a result, beginning August 1, all unvaccinated passengers 12-years-old or older will also be required to show proof of travel insurance in order to cruise out of Florida, the cruise line said Tuesday. This new policy was announced a week after two unvaccinated teenagers tested positive for COVID-19 aboard the Adventure of the Seas ship.
Read the original article on Business Insider