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Monday, May 12, 2008

Royal Caribbean Quietly Changes Its Infant Policy

Royal Caribbean has quietly adjusted its infant policy from having no minimum age restriction to requiring babies to be either 6 or 12 months old in order to sail, depending on the itinerary. Although the new policy is currently on the line's Web site, it won't be strictly enforced until October 2008.

According to the new policy, infants on most cruises must be 6 months old by the first day of the sailing in order to board. However, babies on trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific, Hawaii, select South America cruises and cruisetours, and other select cruises and cruisetours must be 12 months old to sail.

Passengers who try to bring a child onboard who does not meet minimum age requirements will be denied boarding for the child and possibly for one of the parents as well. In such cases, the cruise line will not reimburse the family for the missed sailing.

Royal Caribbean spokesman Michael Sheehan says the change in the policy comes from the cruise line's recognition that infants have special needs and at times may require medical attention that can only be provided for at shore-based hospitals. Though Sheehan tells us the timing is coincidental, a recent incident on Majesty of the Seas aptly illustrates his point: This past April, a 7-month-old child became sick onboard and had to be put off the ship with her family to seek medical treatment. The family complained to the media they had been mistreated, but Royal Caribbean was simply following procedures to ensure the health of the child.

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