Most major cruise lines have now dropped the requirement for passengers to be fully vaccinated following the release of the CDC’s, updated guidelines so that vaccination is no longer a requirement, instead it’s merely recommended. But when will ALL cruise lines change their conditions of sail and allow unvaccinated travellers onboard?
Several cruise lines, including Celebrity Cruises, Cunard, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises have said they will accept unvaccinated children, however there is an age limit for this, which varies from line to line and port to port.
So which cruise lines will now accept passengers who haven’t been vaccinated?
A-ROSA River Cruises was the first line to relax the health measures for passengers. On June 7 the company removed the need for guests to provide proof of vaccination, recovery, or a certified negative test result before embarking on its fleet of European ships. The cruise line also removed the mask-wearing rule for passengers, and the requirement for rapid antigen testing before boarding the ship in May.
The only exception to the latest move will be for passengers sailing on A-ROSA ALVA on the Douro in Portugal. Due to regional regulations, passengers over the age of 12 continue to require proof of complete vaccination or recovery from Covid in order to join the cruise. Additionally, the requirement to wear face masks when moving around on the ship, and rapid antigen testing prior to boarding, remains in place.
A spokesperson for the line said: “As always, the wellbeing and health of all guests and crew members remains a top priority and the care team will continue to monitor the situation and, if necessary, will adjust and adapt the protocols accordingly if required.”
Following the CDC announcement, Virgin Voyages has also updated its vaccine policy. While all of its crew remain fully vaccinated, it will begin to operate 90 per cent vaccinated sailings. That means on board every ship, there is capacity for 10 per cent of the passengers to be unvaccinated, although guests will have to call to check.
Princess Cruises say that they “rigorously follow guidelines from governmental, health and regulatory agencies and organisations throughout the world” and that guests have been “flexible in their ability to adapt”.
“We continue to operate in accordance with government health guidance that regulates the cruise industry and we have adapted and evolved our protocols based on changing circumstances.
“Guests have been flexible in their ability to adapt to ever-evolving circumstances and we truly appreciate their efforts.”
Celebrity Cruises has said they are “evaluating” their vaccination and testing policy following the updated CDC advice: “Now that the CDC has published their new guidance, we are evaluating our protocols to ensure the continued safety and well-being of our guests and crew. Should this result in any changes to our existing programs, we’ll reach out to our guests and travel partners directly.”
Azamara has announced the removal of its COVID-19 vaccination requirement starting December 1, 2022, for guests traveling on any Caribbean and European sailings, unless required by local regulations.
“The safety of our guests and crew is our top priority and we have continued to closely monitor the evolving global situation,” said President of Azamara, Carol Cabezas.
Regardless of vaccination status, Azamara will continue to encourage all guests departing from any port to get tested at leisure prior to travel to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience. These results will not be required to board the vessel.
Carnival Cruise Line has adjusted some of its Covid-19 protocols to reflect the lifting of CDC requirements including allowing unvaccinated cruisers to sail with them.
Effective for embarkations on or after Thursday (4 August), fully vaccinated guests will no longer have to take a pre-cruise test on cruises with itineraries five-nights or less. Pre-cruise testing for itineraries six-nights or longer can be conducted three days before departure and there will be no in-terminal testing for unvaccinated guests on day of departure.
All unvaccinated guests aged two and older must provide proof of a negative result of a lab-administered or supervised self-administered antigen test taken within three days before embarkation.
A spokesperson for the line said: “These changes will be made in phases, with the first of these updates effective on 4 August and focused on short cruise itineraries of five-nights or less. More changes will be announced shortly and all changes are subject to any requirements of destinations on the itinerary.”
Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean is now allowing unvaccinated cruisers onboard. As of August 8 the cruise line is accepting travellers who have chosen not to or are unable to take the Covid-19 vaccine. A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean International said that they are working towards a “point where everyone will be able to vacation with us”.
“Cruising has proven to be one of the safest environments anywhere, and starting Aug. 8. 2022, Royal Caribbean Group will follow these guidelines: Testing will be required for unvaccinated guests on all sailings and for vaccinated guests on sailings that are six nights or longer; Maintain a high percentage of fully vaccinated guests onboard all our sailings, far above the general population; Work with destination partners around the world to ensure the health and safety of the communities we visit; All crew will continue to be fully vaccinated and boosted when eligible; Keep our ongoing crew surveillance.”
From September 3, unvaccinated travellers can sail with Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas if they provide a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours.
Fully vaccinated travellers can board Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises without testing.
Children under 12 do not have to be vaccinated or be tested.
However, guests were reminded that local requirements superceede the onboard rules and some local regulations differ ‘including but not limited to Canada, Greece and Bermuda’.
This means that unvaccinated travellers will soon be able to cruise to certain destinations where vaccinations aren’t required for entry… but possibly only with particular crusie lines. This could mean a big boost business for those cruise lines as people flock to make bookings. But as we can see, this change may be slow in coming due to restrictions still being in place at some ports of call.
Effective September 5, Silversea Cruises will welcome all travellers on board its ships regardless of vaccination status where local regulations allow.
Silversea Cruises has also adjusted its COVID-19 testing requirements. Where local regulations allow, vaccinated travellers will not be required to take a COVID-19 test prior to embarkation. Unvaccinated travellers may sail aboard Silversea ships by providing proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen or PCR test within 72 hours prior to embarkation.