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Royal Caribbean changes policy to make vaccines optional for cruise ship passengers

Royal Caribbean International on Friday announced a change in its policy, saying vaccinations against the coronavirus will be optional for cruise ship passengers.

Guests are strongly recommended to set sail fully vaccinated, if they are eligible. Those who are unvaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols, which will be announced at a later date,” the company said in its announcement.

The move comes after Florida passed a law that will fine companies $5,000 each time they ask customers if they are vaccinated against the coronavirus, the Miami Herald reported.

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“We also thank Governor DeSantis of Florida, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Broward County Mayor Steve Geller and Chairman of the Canaveral Port Authority board Wayne Justice and board commissioners for their steadfast support of our industry and for providing access to vaccines to the thousands of crew on our ships off the eastern seaboard,” CEO Michael Bayley said in the announcement.

This act of understanding and humanity has been deeply appreciated, and we are grateful for their support, which is enabling the health and safety of our guests, crew members and the communities we visit,” he added.

The cruise line is set to begin test cruises authorized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in June.

The announcement listed cruises that are set to take off this summer but are still pending approval from the CDC as the company must first pass the test cruises.

Florida’s move to ban companies from requiring vaccinations shook the cruise industry, with the CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. saying it might avoid the state due to the decision.