Royal Caribbean says boycott of the cruise line after it announced fully vaccinated cruises is based on a 'misconception'
- Royal Caribbean and its Celebrity Cruises brand have announced five fully vaccinated summer cruises.
- The announcement of these summer cruises has stirred up calls to boycott Royal Caribbean.
- However, Royal Caribbean has not announced a sweeping vaccine mandate for all its future guests.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
Throughout March, Royal Caribbean has announced a string of "fully vaccinated" cruises for this summer. While these vaccine mandates have delighted some eager travelers, they've also ignited calls from Twitter and Facebook users to boycott the cruise line.
However, these boycott demands have been based on a "misconception," according to a Royal Caribbean spokesperson.
On March 19, Royal Caribbean International uploaded a Facebook post about its new seven-night summer cruises from the Bahamas aboard its Adventure of the Seas ship. These trips, set to sail from June to August, will be cruising with a vaccine mandate: all crew members and adult guests must be vaccinated against COVID-19, while passengers under 18-years-old must test negative for the virus.
"The vaccines are clearly a game-changer for all of us, and with the number of vaccinations and their impact growing rapidly, we believe starting with cruises for vaccinated adult guests and crew is the right choice," Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said in the press release announcing the new sailings. "As we move forward, we expect this requirement and other measures will inevitably evolve over time."
Shortly after the cruising giant announced these new "fully vaccinated" sailings on Facebook, the comment section was set alight. While some Facebook commenters praised the vaccine mandate, others voiced their concerns and announced a personal boycott of the cruise line.
"I'll spend my vacation time and money elsewhere," Facebook user Crysti Horne said in a comment.
Other Facebook users like Jenny Mayer have called the vaccine mandate discriminatory.
A day after Royal Caribbean's comment section spiraled into a vaccine debate, Simone Gold — a doctor, vocal COVID-19 vaccine critic, and attendee of the January Capitol insurrection — announced she would be boycotting Royal Caribbean as well.
—Dr. Simone Gold (@drsimonegold) March 20, 2021
The post has since been retweeted over 2,400 times and liked by over 8,500 Twitter users, and echoes the anti-vaccination sentiment other people on the social media site have been feeling relative to major cruise lines.
Read more: Carnival and Royal Caribbean salaries revealed: From $32,000 to $383,000, here's how much the cruise industry's power players pay some of their employees
Jennifer Lindquist, a former Royal Caribbean customer, doesn't agree with any vaccine, face masks, and social distancing mandates, and told Insider "social distancing ruins the entire cruise experience," in an interview over Facebook messenger.
"We will not be getting the vaccine anytime soon, if ever," she said. "I do not agree with a company making it mandatory for their employees to be vaccinated with an experimental vaccine."
However, many of these Facebook comments and tweets have seemingly been based on a glaring mistake: Royal Caribbean never implemented a company-wide COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all of its future guests.
Ironically, its Quantum of the Seas ship already resumed sailing in Singapore in December, without a vaccine mandate.
"The misconception is that all of the cruises will be vaccinated, and that decision has not been made yet," a Royal Caribbean spokesperson told Insider in an interview. "If you look at the countries that are doing fully vaccinated cruises, it's mandatory by the government. We want to set sail, and that's part of the deal to cruise again."
Royal Caribbean currently has several health protocols in place ahead of its major return to sailing. These include social distancing, mask-wearing, and robust testing and quarantining guidelines for crew members.
But in regards to vaccines, Royal Caribbean – including its Celebrity Cruises brand — has only announced five "fully vaccinated" summer cruises so far. While crew members are required to be vaccinated before sailings return, the cruise giant has not implemented a sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all its future guests.
"We're following the science and medical advice, and we want to do what's best for our passengers and crew and obviously the communities that we visit as well," the Royal Caribbean spokesperson said.