Four Cruise Lines to Drop COVID Vaccination Requirements

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Aug. 14, 2022 — Four major cruise lines are dropping their COVID-19 vaccination requirements for some sailings next month, according to USA Today.

Carnival Cruise Line won’t require unvaccinated guests to apply for an exemption to sail after Sept. 6. The changes are subject to local restrictions, such as those in Bermuda, Canada and Greece, and don’t include voyages in Australia or trips that are 16 or more nights.

Princess Cruises will remove vaccination requirements on Sept. 6 for most voyages that are less than 16 days. The cruise line currently requires unvaccinated guests to have a vaccine exemption before they sail.

Royal Caribbean Group, which includes Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, will welcome all travelers regardless of vaccination status beginning Sept. 5 “as long as testing requirements are met,” a spokesperson told USA Today.

For Royal Caribbean, the changes include sailings from Los Angeles, New Orleans, Galveston and Europe. For Celebrity, that means cruises leaving from Los Angeles, the U.K. and Europe — but not Ireland. Bahamas and Caribbean cruises that leave from Florida ports still have vaccine rules in place.

The announcements came on Friday after Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises said Monday that unvaccinated passengers would be allowed on many cruises starting Sept. 3, according to The Washington Post. The cruise lines, which are part of the same parent company, also dropped all pre-cruise requirements for vaccinated passengers. Those who are unvaccinated still need to test within 72 hours before boarding.

Testing rules have been rolled back on many cruise lines as well. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity require testing for unvaccinated passengers but only require vaccinated people to test on sailings that are six nights or longer. Carnival, MSC Cruises and Silversea Cruises have made similar changes since the CDC ended its COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships. At the time the program ended last month, nearly every ship that reported data to the CDC was under observation for COVID-19 cases, The Post reported.

Starting Sept. 6, Princess Cruises will require passengers on sailings of 16 nights or longer to take a test within three days of leaving, as well as those on full Panama Canal transits. Unvaccinated passengers will be required to show a negative test for all trips.

Cruise companies said they expect to further reduce some of their restrictions in coming days, which came in response to the CDC loosening its coronavirus recommendations for screening and testing in most settings on Thursday, the newspaper reported.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners around the world to develop updated protocols that provide for the continued safety of our guests and the communities we visit, better align with the travel and hospitality sector, and meet destination regulations,” Royal Caribbean said. “This means we’re transitioning to the point where everyone will be able to vacation with us.”

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