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After getting hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, cruise lines are racing to get back to a “new normal.” For the first time since 2020, Royal Caribbean cruises are slated to return to the seas. But with this long-anticipated re-opening, there will be requirements in place depending on whether travelers have elected to receive a vaccination for COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know about Royal Caribbean’s travel insurance requirements for unvaccinated travelers.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Requirements for unvaccinated travelers
- Travel insurance requirements
- How to choose a travel insurance policy
- Understanding COVID-19 travel insurance coverage
The New Rules of Cruising from Florida
Beginning with cruises departing in summer 2021, Royal Caribbean will require all guests (age 16+, dropping to 12+ after August 1) traveling from US ports to show proof of complete vaccination. Travelers who are starting their cruise from the state of Florida are the exception to this rule. That’s because, in Florida, it’s unlawful for the cruise line to ask passengers their vaccination status.
Royal Caribbean announced that it will enforce a rule that unvaccinated travelers cruising from Florida will need to instead purchase a travel insurance policy that fulfills the requirements outlined below. The rule is in effect for all sailings from August 1 through December 31, 2021, and it applies to all bookings except those made between March 19 and June 28, 2021.
In addition to obtaining a travel insurance policy, travelers must also pay for COVID-19 testing. As of the time of this article, Royal Caribbean estimates the cost of COVID-19 testing for a cruise 5 nights or less to be $136, while lengthier cruises will charge $178. Royal Caribbean will foot the bill for testing passengers between ages 2 and 11.
Further, unvaccinated guests may be unable to access certain areas of the ship such as select dining options, bars, shows, and the casino. They’ll also be subject to a mask mandate except while eating and drinking or in their stateroom.
Travel Insurance Options
To comply with the Royal Caribbean requirements for unvaccinated passengers, those who opt out of vaccines must purchase and show proof of a travel insurance policy in their name that includes:
- Coverage for all guests over age 12
- At least $25,000 per person in medical expense coverage
- At least $50,000 per person for quarantine and medical evacuation related to COVID-19
The policy can be purchased from any vendor as long as it meets this core set of requirements.
And as long as unvaccinated travelers are mandated to purchase a travel insurance policy, you may as well choose an option that’s going to be the most beneficial. That goes not only for COVID precautions but for financially protecting your entire cruising experience.
How to Choose a Travel Insurance Policy
Travel insurance policies can cover more than just medical expenses and evacuation. Many policies also cover:
- Lost or stolen baggage
- Travel delays for airlines or cruise line
- Trip cancellation
- Trip interruption
Policies vary dramatically in what they cover and for how much. When you’re looking for a travel insurance policy, it’s wise to follow the below three steps.
Figure Out What You Need
Unvaccinated passengers looking for a travel insurance policy to fulfill the Royal Caribbean requirement already know they’ll need medical coverage for quarantine and evacuation. But it’s wise to make a list of the other aspects of travel you’ll want to have covered, too.
For example, suppose you’re traveling with family and are concerned about canceling for medical reasons leading up to the trip. In that case, you may look specifically for policies that cover trip cancellation. And if you’ve had bad experiences with lost baggage on a particular airline, then lost or stolen baggage coverage might be a necessity.
Once you know what you need, it’s time to research and compare options.
Research and Compare Policies Side by Side
There are many travel insurance companies out there, each vying for your business. And to understand the best possible value for what you need, it pays to get a quote from multiple companies and compare them side by side.
To get an accurate quote, you’ll need to know:
- Your travel dates
- The cost of your trip (including flights, hotels, and the cruise)
- Number and age of passengers
Prices will fluctuate based on the inputs, which is why it’s so important to make a direct comparison between multiple insurers.
Also, keep in mind that while some policies may appear less expensive, they might not adequately cover your travel needs, including expenses related to COVID.
Check the COVID Coverage
Although it may seem tedious, you’ll need to read the fine print about COVID exclusions before purchasing any travel insurance policy. Even though most travel insurers are treating COVID like any other illness, it’s important to double-check the policy to clarify precisely which COVID-19 related expenses will be covered.
That means reviewing any COVID-specific rules (which are outlined under the “COVID-19 FAQs” link next to each plan when on TravelInsurance.com) and also checking the exclusions and coverage section of the policy. Combing through the fine print will alert you to things the insurer may not cover, like cancellation due to “fear of travel.”
Understanding COVID-19 Travel Insurance Coverage
Once you’ve purchased a travel insurance policy that meets Royal Caribbean’s requirements for unvaccinated passengers, it benefits you to know under which circumstances you’ll be covered. And the primary situation you may find yourself in is a mandated COVID-19 quarantine following a positive test.
If you tested positive for COVID-19 and are forced to quarantine before returning home, your travel insurance policy can help provide a daily stipend for meals and accommodations. Another beneficial aspect of the travel insurance policy is if your travel is interrupted due to a positive test. Your travel insurance coverage may be able to reimburse you for non-refundable or pre-paid expenses if you’re unable to finish your trip as planned.
It’s important to note that if you need to submit a claim for COVID-19 costs, you may need to provide:
- Proof of a positive COVID-19 test
- Medical bills for COVID-related testing and illness
- Receipts from accommodations and other expenses as a result of COVID-19
- Documentation that you were required to quarantine during travel
- Proof of exposure to someone that tested positive for COVID-19
Each insurer will differ. But keeping diligent tracking of your expenses and interactions as they relate to COVID-19 will increase your chances of getting more financial assistance in the event of a claim. And that means less stress as you work on getting well and returning home.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve opted out of COVID vaccination, you’ll still be able to sail the seas from a Florida port by purchasing an appropriate travel insurance policy. But keep in mind that not all travel insurance policies are created equal.
In addition to making sure your policy meets the COVID-19 medical requirements outlined by Royal Caribbean, you’ll also want to be sure it covers other areas of travel you want to be protected, like lost or stolen baggage or trip cancellation. Once your travel policy is in place, you’re free to relax and enjoy getting back out on the water once again!
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