How Cruise Lines Covid Vaccination And Testing Rules Have Changed
When cruise lines restarted operations in summer 2021, after being banned by the CDC from operating for 15 months due to COVID-19-related safety concerns, it was with strict CDC-imposed regulations. They included vaccination requirements for anyone age 12 and up , precruise testing requirements, mandatory masking in public areas, social distancing, and other measures the CDC said would help contain the spread of COVID-19 on cruise ships.
After two years of first banning and then advising against cruising due to pandemic-related health and safety risks, in late March 2022, the CDC dropped its warning to travelers about the health risks of cruising during the COVID pandemic.
In May, the CDC scaled back slightly on its tough restrictions for cruise lines by allowing ships to declare themselves as highly vaccinated if 90 percent of passengers and at least 95 percent of crew were vaccinated. Previously, the number was 95 percent for passengers. The change allowed more unvaccinated children who didnt yet qualify for a vaccine or had not obtained a vaccine to come onboard during the summer.
The agency provided the cruise lines with greater leeway to set and monitor their own policies. Consequently, most cruise lines opted to make masks optional. But the CDC still maintained a close watch, publishing a color-coded chart of ship outbreaks that it updated regularly.
Carnival Cruise Line Vaccine Policy
Carnival will now allow all passengers — including those who are unvaccinated — to sail freely as of September 6, 2022. This simplifies the requirements to sail.
First and foremost, unvaccinated passengers of any age are allowed to sail the cruise line without having to first apply for an exemption as was previously required. However, before they cruise, those without the shot will need to have a negative test taken within three days of cruising .
There are a few exceptions. Cruises from Australia — or those 16 nights or longer — do still require a passenger be vaccinated to sail.
Vaccinated passengers don’t need to test unless visiting Canada, Bermuda, Greece or Australia and on trips of 16 nights or longer.
What If I Have A Certificate Of Recovery
Some countries issue “certificates of recovery” if someone has been infected with COVID-19 and recovered, issuing a certificate that proves a positive COVID-19 test and recovery, instead of vaccination as someone’s proof of immunity. The European Union’s Digital COVID Certificate, for example, includes certification of recovery from COVID-19.
For guests departing outside of the US who are cruising with Royal Caribbean, they may present a certificate of recovery. If you’re not in the US and have a certificate of recovery, contact your desired cruise line before purchasing the cruise.
The US doesn’t issue certificates of recovery at this time, so telling the cruise line you already had COVID-19 won’t get you a vaccine exemption.
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Cruise Lines With Some Restrictions
These cruise lines allow unvaccinated guests but still have some form of testing requirement in place for those who elected to pass on the vaccine.
- Carnival Cruise Line: Vaccines and testing are no longer required, with the exception of the few destinations that still require it. However, one major exception to note is that for cruises of 16 nights or longer, vaccines are still required for all passengers.
- Holland America Line: Unvaccinated guests must submit a negative test taken within 3 days of departure. For cruises of 16 nights or longer, all guests must be vaccinated and provide a negative test.
- MSC Cruises:Vaccines are no longer required, but unvaccinated guests are required to show proof of a negative COVID test prior to departure on some sailings.
Msc Cruises Vaccine Policy
MSC is a popular choice for passengers looking for relatively affordable fares. The cruise line has a limited — but growing — presence in the U.S., with cruises from Florida and New York.
MSC’s policy toward vaccination for sailing from the United States is that while kids under 12 years old are allowed to sail unvaccinated, those older than that must have the shot.
However, the cruise line did recently relax testing requirements for vaccinated passengers, with a reference that vaccine rules could also drop sometime in the future:
“MSC Cruises will continue to monitor pandemic conditions and port requirements outside of the U.S., with a goal to relax testing and vaccination protocols to open cruising to all guests, while prioritizing the health and safety of its guests, crew and destinations.”
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Norwegian Cruise Line Vaccine Policy
Starting September 3, 2022, Norwegian Cruise Line no longer requires passengers to be vaccinated to sail.
After that date, all passengers under 12 years and younger will be free to sail without needing a vaccine or requiring a test before boarding. In other words, it will be just as it was before the pandemic for kids
Passengers over 12 years old will no longer require a Covid test to cruise if they are vaccinated. If unvaccinated, passengers are now able to still cruise but must have a negative test taking within 72 hours of embarkation.
Note that there are still vaccine/testing requirements from ports including Greece, Canada, and Bermuda.
Cruise Lines With Heavy Restrictions
The following cruise lines still require all passengers to be vaccinated and exclude unvaccinated travelers.
- AmaWaterways:This river cruise line still currently requires all passengers to be vaccinated in order to cruise with them, although their official site states they hope to remove rules in 2023.
- Cunard Line:All guests over the age of 18 are required to show proof of vaccination and a booster shot. Unvaccinated passengers between the ages of 5 and 17 are required to submit a negative test prior to departure.
- Viking: This river cruise line enforces a strict vaccine and booster policy and periodically tests guests once they are onboard.
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Cruise Lines That Have Dropped All Restrictions
The following cruise lines have dropped all restrictions, including vaccine, testing, and mask rules, with exceptions only for itineraries that visit countries with restrictions still in place.
- Norwegian Cruise Line: NCL was one of the first cruise lines to drop vaccine mandates and pre-cruise testing. The only exceptions are for the few countries that still require vaccines and/or testing, such as Bermuda.
- Royal Caribbean:Vaccines and testing are no longer required, except for on sailings that visit a small number of ports such as Haiti or Colombia, where restrictions are still in place.
- Princess Cruises:Travelers no longer need to provide proof of vaccination or testing on most voyages, with the exception of select enhanced guidelines voyages to destinations that still have restrictions.
- Celebrity Cruises: Vaccine and testing requirements have been dropped for all travelers, with exceptions for itineraries that include destinations such as Bermuda, Honduras, and Turks & Caicos.
- Disney Cruise Line:The latest cruise line to drop all requirements is Disney Cruise Line, with exceptions only for select ports of call.
The Role Of Cruise Ships In Viral Spread
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, cruise ships experienced major outbreaks of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as it spread across the globe.
But even before the COVID-19 pandemic, cruise ships didn’t have the best reputation for being disease-free. It wasn’t uncommon to see reports of outbreaks of norovirus, a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea.
There are a few reasons why viruses and diseases can spread quickly on cruise ships. According to the CDC, “cruise ship travel presents a unique combination of health concerns.”
A couple of the factors in that unique combination are crowded spaces and tight quarters. When people are in a small space, keeping distance from one another is more difficult. That enables a virus to spread more easily from person to person. People can also pick up pathogens from port visits and bring them back onto the ship, infecting others.
Cruise ships often have food buffets, which can be easily contaminated and lead to the rapid spread of illnesses like norovirus. Also, crew members may work multiple voyages, passing on germs transmitted from previous passengers.
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What To Know About Cruising Right Now
With more and more cruise lines dropping all COVID-related travel requirements, its back to cruising as usual.
However, with certain destinations still enforcing vaccine and/or testing requirements, be sure to research your cruise itinerary thoroughly before booking if you want to avoid potential restrictions in countries that have still not fully reopened to all travelers.
Currently, more than 120 countries have dropped all restrictions, including many popular cruise destinations in the Caribbean and Europe.
However, Asia and Oceania, and some countries in Central and South America, still have stricter rules in place.
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Royal Caribbean Vaccine Policy
As of September 5, 2022, Royal Caribbean will no longer require passengers to be vaccinated to sail if departing from ports in California, Louisiana, and Texas. As well, no vaccine will be required if sailing from Europe. No special request or exemption is need to sail unvaccinated.
Cruises from Florida and other ports of departure will still require the shot for those 12 and older in order to sail for the time being. According to Royal Caribbean’s website, the cruise line is “working with local governments in the Eastern Caribbean to align on vaccination requirements for more itineraries.”
As well, even if not required, Royal Caribbean asks that you still bring proof of vaccination to your cruise.
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Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection
Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection welcomes all guests regardless of vaccination status. Pre-voyage testing is not required for guests with proof of vaccination unless local regulations stipulate otherwise. To be considered ‘vaccinated’ guests must have been vaccinated at least two weeks prior to boarding. Unvaccinated travelers must present a negative COVID-19 antigen or PCR test taken within three days prior to embarkation. All guests will be required to complete a health questionnaire prior to boarding.
Are Vaccines Mandatory For Cruises
For Australians, anyone currently looking to sail internationally will need to be fully vaccinated. For domestic sailings, this will be entirely dependent on your chosen cruise line and their cruise vaccination requirements and the current laws of the state or territories you plan on travelling from/to. To avoid the chance of you missing your next cruise, whether domestic or international, we suggest being fully vaccinated. This ensures you can sail stress-free knowing you wont have your voyage cut short due to any cruise vaccination policy when entering another state or territory.
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Cruising With Unvaccinated Kids
Children may or may not be able to cruise, depending on the ship. Norwegian Cruise Line doesn’t allow children under the age of 5 to cruise, for example, because they can’t get vaccinated yet. In the specific event that you have a child turning 5 during the voyage, check in with your cruise line before buying a ticket.
Looking for a family cruise on Disney’s cruise line? Disney Cruise Line became the first cruise line to require passengers as young as 5 to be vaccinated for sailings starting Jan. 13.
While other cruise lines may not officially require vaccinations for kids that young yet, they may in the future. If you’re not comfortable vaccinating your child under 12, hold off on buying them a ticket or get confirmation on a timeline for requirements from your desired cruise line. Remember: Vaccine exemptions and refunds are not guaranteed.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
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What Cruise Lines Need To Admit To Unvaccinated Passengers
Unvaccinated cruises passengers must wear masks, while vaccinated passengers don’t.
As the major cruise lines prepare to relaunch from U.S. ports this summer, they have not yet been as frank with unvaccinated passengers as they need to be about how their cruise experience will stack up next to that of their vaccinated cruise mates.
Royal Caribbean made headlines a week ago when it announced that it would begin sailing from Florida in early July with ships where vaccinations would be recommended but not required. Guests are strongly recommended to set sail fully vaccinated, if they are eligible, said Royal Caribbeans news release. 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.
Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, : For Freedom, Odyssey, Allure, Symphony and sailing out of Florida ports in July and August we are strongly recommending all guests eligible for vaccines are fully vaccinated. We expect approximately 90 percent of our guests will be vaccinated. Guests who choose not to be vaccinated or not willing to verify vaccination will be subject to testing and additional health protocols which will be at their expense.
Despite Floridas law, Norwegian Cruise Line is also insisting it will require everyone on board its ships to be fully inoculated against Covid-19.
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The Cruise Lines That Have Dropped Travel Restrictions
4 weeks ago
Which cruise lines have dropped COVID-related travel restrictions?
Heres everything you need to know about which cruise lines have dropped vaccine mandates and pre-cruise testing requirements
According to recent research from Squaremouth, 65% of cruise travelers said they arent concerned about COVID anymore.
With many countries dropping all entry restrictions in recent months, cruise lines have been following suit and removing onerous requirements like mask-wearing, vaccine mandates, and pre-cruise COVID testing.
However, not all cruise lines have returned to normal cruising yet.
Heres an overview of which cruise lines have dropped restrictions and which ones still have rules in place:
Dropping Cdc Programs Means An Easing Of Vaccine Rules
Up until July 2022, cruise lines followed the CDCs voluntary program for Covid protocols on cruise ships. However, the health agency ended that program, giving cruise lines more leeway on how to implement their own rules around things like testing and vaccines.
As the world has learned to live alongside the virus, restrictions have eased around the world and on cruise ships. This includes dropping testing requirements for vaccinated passengers and allowing unvaccinated passengers to sail again in many cases .
Even so, some cruise lines still have vaccine requirements for some cruises. Since cruise lines sail to multiple countries, they have to adhere to the rules set out by those places. So a line may let unvaccinated sail on some cruises, but not others. That makes it easier to simply have the vaccine and be allowed to sail no matter where the ship goes.
As well, you should know that if there are vaccine requirements, they are usually relaxed for children under 12 years old. Its common across cruise lines to allow passengers under 12 to sail freely without needing the shot. So if you are sailing with a smaller child that you dont want to be vaccinated, then thats normally not an issue.
Still, each cruise line has made their own policies, which can make it more difficult for passengers to understand whats required. To help you out, weve highlighted all the latest announced policies from major cruise lines below.
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What Does ‘fully Vaccinated’ Mean
It seems most cruise lines are following the CDC’s definition of fully vaccinated, which means two weeks have passed since your second shot of Pfizer or Moderna, or since your one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot. It’s possible a cruise line may accept one shot of a viral vector vaccine, such as AstraZeneca, and one shot of an mRNA vaccine, but this practice of mixing for a COVID-19 vaccine primary series isn’t authorized yet in the US.
Some cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, accept vaccines recommended or approved by the World Health Organization as well as the CDC. This includes vaccines such as AstraZeneca and Sinovac. See the full list of vaccines approved by the WHO here.
Bottom line: If you’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 outside of the US, check with your cruise line to make sure they accept your vaccine before putting any money down. It’s also important to know that while all adults in the US are now eligible for boosters, the definition of “fully vaccinated” hasn’t changed and you don’t need an extra shot to be considered fully vaccinated.
All guests, regardless of vaccination status, should expect to be tested for COVID-19 prior to boarding a cruise ship.
Find Out The Cruise Vaccination Requirements For Your Next Voyage
Its understandable why many voyagers can get muddled on what they need to do in relation to COVID-19 vaccination requirements for their next cruise. As with any rapidly changing scenario like this one, laws, and regulations change at a rapid pace, and this often affects your cruise vaccination requirements as well. In turn, each operator has prepared their own cruise vaccination policy that is designed to work across all destinations they service. If you want to ensure you have a worry-free voyage, we strongly suggest reading these cruise health policies carefully. Not sure where to go? Have no fear, we provide all the relevant links and information you need for all of the major cruise lines below.
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