Following last month’s announcement the CDC was ending its COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships, more and more cruise lines are dropping COVID-19 testing.
Since the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) lifted it’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships last months, more and more cruise lines are adjusting their health and safety protocols.
Azamara first announced the removal of its COVID-19 embarkation testing requirement. “The easing of our testing policy marks a step in the right direction towards a return to normalcy for the travel and cruising industry,” said Carol Cabezas, President of Azamara. From July 25 on the boutique cruise line no longer requires pre-cruise COVID-19 testing for guests, excluding ports where pre-travel testing is still needed in accordance with country regulations. Azamara however highly recommends guests get tested prior to travel but those results will not be required to board an Azamara vessel. In ports where testing is required in accordance with country regulations, guests will still need to produce a negative COVID-19 test before sailing. Furthermore Azamara does requires all guests 12 years of age or older to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before sailing.
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE, OCEANIA CRUISES and REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES
Prior to the CDC’s decision to lift its COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises) announced it would no longer require guests to complete pre-cruise COVID-19 testing unless required by local regulations. On 8 August 2022 NCLH revised its SailSAFE health and safety protocols. Effective 3 September 2022 vaccinated travellers will not need to test prior to embarkation, subject to local regulations. Unvaccinated travellers may embark with a negative COVID-19 antigen or PCR test from a lab or pharmacy taken within 3 days prior to embarkation, subject to local regulations. Testing and vaccination requirements will differ for guests travelling on voyages departing from destinations with specific local health regulations, including but not limited to Canada, Greece, the Bahamas and Bermuda.
In response to the CDC’s decision, Virgin Voyages decided to remove pre-embarkation testing for sailings aboard Valiant Lady from July 24 in Europe, and from July 27 on US sailings aboard Scarlet Lady. The cruise line however is still requiring that the majority (90%) of guest be vaccinated, but is opening its voyages for a limited number (10%) of unvaccinated guests. Unvaccinated guests are required to bring a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24-hours, or at the terminal for a fee of $30 on their embarkation date.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL, CELEBRITY CRUISES and SILVERSEA CRUISES
Royal Caribbean has updated their health protocols to align more closely with the travel industry. From September 5 the cruise line will welcome both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests. Vaccinated guests sailing on cruises that are shorter than 10 nights will no longer need testing. Unvaccinated guests can sail with a negative test result from any commercially available test, including self-tests. For sailings longer than ten days all guests, vaccinated and unvaccinated, need to provide a negative test taken within three days of their sailing date. Guests sailing to or from Australia, Bermuda, Canada and Singapore and those going on an Alaska Cruisetour still need to be vaccinated and take a test within 2 days of boarding.
Starting September 5, 2022, all guests, vaccinated and unvaccinated, departing on most Celebrity Cruises sailings from the U.S. and Europe can go on a cruise as long as they meet local testing requirements to board. For sailings from the U.S. that are shorter than 10 days, fully vaccinated guests no longer need to be tested, excluding sailings that visit Canada and Bermuda. A negative test result from a self-administered test will be accepted for all sailings, excluding sailings to Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Greece and New Zealand. For sailings to and from Canada, Australia and New Zealand all guests (ages 12 and up) need to be fully vaccinated. For Galapagos cruises all guests aged three and older need to be vaccinated.
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE
Carnival Cruise Line‘s new guidelines are effective for cruises departing on September 6, 2022 or later. Vaccinated guests must continue to provide evidence of their vaccination status prior to embarkation. Pre-cruise testing is no longer required, except for cruises to Canada, Bermuda, Greece and Australia, and on voyages 16 nights or longer. In addition to lab administered tests, self-testing is accepted for unvaccinated guests on cruises 15 nights and shorter. Certain destinations (including Bermuda, Canada, Greece, or Spain) however do not accept unsupervised pre-cruise testing. If used for visiting these destinations, self-testing must be supervised by a medical professional. Unvaccinated guests are welcome to sail and are no longer required to apply for a vaccine exemption, except for cruises in Australia or on voyages 16 nights and longer. Unvaccinated guests or those who do not provide proof of vaccination must present the results of a negative PCR or antigen test. Regardless of the type of test taken, unvaccinated guests will be required to present their negative test results via VeriFLY, or as part of the embarkation process. If the test taken is supervised by a medical professional, guests can show the negative result in the form of a printout, an email, or an app screen from the test provider. On voyages where destinations accept self-testing, guests can provide a picture of their negative home test or present the actual negative test itself at embarkation. Guests should write their name and test date on a piece of paper, place the negative test on the paper, and take a photograph of this on a mobile device.
HOLLAND AMERICA LINE & SEABOURN
For most voyages (excluding full Panama Canal transits, trans-ocean and designated remote voyages aboard HAL ships) up to 15 nights, vaccinated guests will no longer have to test before cruising. Unvaccinated guests must provide results of a negative medically supervised or self-test taken within three days of embarkation. The new protocols apply to cruises departing on or after September 6, 2022 and do not apply to itineraries for countries where local regulations may vary, including Canada, Australia and Greece. For cruises 16 nights or longer (plus full Panama Canal transit, trans-ocean and designated remote voyages on HAL ships), all guests will be required to submit a medically supervised COVID-19 test with written negative result. The test must be taken within three days of embarkation. Guests must be vaccinated or request an exemption.
Starting September 6, vaccinated guests sailing with Princess Cruises on voyages of less than 16 days with the exception of Panama Canal transits, trans-ocean and other special itineraries will no longer have to test before boarding and only need to upload proof of vaccination. Unvaccinated guests, or those who do not provide proof of vaccination, on those itineraries will self-test within three days of sailing and upload proof of a negative test before boarding. Guests (guests 5 and older) sailing on voyages 16 nights or longer, or sailing on full Panama Canal transits, trans-ocean and other specific itineraries, need to take a supervised test within three days of embarkation. These new guidelines apply to itineraries from all departure ports except where government regulations and protocols may vary like Canada, Greece and Australia. For sailing from the United Kingdom, vaccinated guests must have received their final dose of an authorized COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days, as well as a booster for guests 18 and older, before the beginning of the cruise and provide acceptable proof at terminal check-in. At terminal check-in guests must attest of a negative viral COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) taken at any time in the three days before the day of embarkation. A limited number of unvaccinated guests are welcome on a first-come, first-served basis. For sailings from Europe: Vaccinated guests must have received their final dose of an authorized COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before the beginning of the cruise and provide acceptable proof at terminal check-in. Boosters are highly recommended for those eligible. At terminal check-in guests must provide proof of a negative viral COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) taken before or at embarkation. Following local regulations, Princess is managing an exemption process for guests 12 and older, that supports medical, religious and other guest considerations for unvaccinated guests. For voyages departing from Australia fully vaccinated guests must have received their final dose of an Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved or recognised COVID-19 vaccine, with the last dose being administered at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise and can provide proof of vaccination. Guests aged 12 years or older who are not fully vaccinated require a medical exemption to sail. For sailings to or from Western Australia, guests aged 5 years or older who are not fully vaccinated require a medical exemption. Under local protocols, prior infection with COVID-19 is not grounds for a medical exemption. Medical exemptions need to be submitted to Princess for validation before a booking can be guaranteed. All guests need to take a self-administered Rapid Antigen test (RAT) within 24 hours or PCR within 72 hours.
For sailings beginning September, MSC Cruises no longer requires U.S. residents to be fully vaccinated and tested prior to sailing. Pre-cruise testing is recommended, but not required for travelers who are fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated guests are still required to show proof of vaccination at embarkation. Unvaccinated guests are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test (NAAT or antigen) taken within 3 days of embarkation. Non-U.S. Residents are required to be fully vaccinated and must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test (NAAT or antigen) taken within 3 days of embarkation. All policies are subject to local destination requirements.
CUNARD and P&O CRUISES
From Tuesday September 6, 2022 self-testing prior to travel will change from mandatory to highly recommended for vaccinated guests on the vast majority of holidays aboard Cunard and P&O Cruises. Only guests sailing on longer, more complex itineraries will be required to have an observed or in person antigen or PCR test with a fit to travel certificate prior to departure. These include a number of holidays of 16 nights or more and other specific voyages. These new guidelines apply to all Cunard itineraries sailing from Southampton and all other departure points with the exception of countries where government regulations and protocols may vary including Canada and Australia.
Windstar Cruises has revised its COVID-19 protocols and procedures and will no longer require a pre-cruise COVID-19 test for embarking guests. These changes will go into effect for cruises departing on or after Sept. 6, 2022.
The exception to this new testing procedure is that currently Canada, Greece, Australia and New Zealand still require COVID-19 pre-testing prior to boarding any ship in their respective waters. Windstar will still require all guests to be fully vaccinated and show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
Following the evolving public health situation cruise lines are constantly updating their protocols. For the most recent testing protocols please visit your cruise line’s website.
Updated August 29, 2022