Cruise Lines Dropping Vaccine Mandate: What You Need to Know

Cruise lines are dropping their vaccine mandates, allowing unvaccinated passengers to board their ships. Disney Cruise Line was the last major cruise line to reduce its vaccine requirement in most of the United States, starting October 1.Unvaccinated travelers 5 years of age or older must submit a negative coronavirus test performed within two days of the departure date, either using an observed antigen test or a laboratory PCR test. Vaccinated travelers and children under 5 are not required to get tested. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ended its COVID-19 Program for cruise ships in July, allowing individual cruise lines to set their own standards.

Since then, all major cruise lines operating in the United States have removed their vaccination requirements for all but a few trips, according to their websites. Depending on the company, vaccines may be required for trips that last longer than 16 days or that visit ports of call with additional requirements, such as Bermuda and Greece. The only maritime cruise line that requires passengers to be vaccinated on US sailings is Cunard Line, a British luxury airline that operates three ships, including the only remaining ocean liner in service. Cunard requires that all adults get vaccinated, even with a booster if more than 270 days have passed since their initial vaccination, and that they get tested before departure. Travel agencies and cruise companies have seen an increase in bookings in recent weeks following the lifting of vaccination requirements, although company executives said they expect most passengers to remain vaccinated. The recovery is a boon for the industry after a 15-month shutdown, but COVID-19 remains a cause for concern, as experts have warned that the proximity of ships is particularly conducive to the spread of the virus. The CDC continues to recommend staying up to date with vaccines, including boosters, before traveling on a cruise ship and getting tested no more than three days before departure.

With more and more cruise lines dropping all COVID-related travel requirements, we're returning to sailing as usual. Norwegian Cruise Line, the world's third largest cruise operator by passenger number, announced Monday that it will remove COVID-19 vaccination, testing and masking requirements for travel starting this week. Disney Cruise Line will no longer require vaccines on most of its trips starting in October. Cruise lines are now allowing unvaccinated passengers to board their ships without having to provide proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test. However, it is still recommended that travelers get vaccinated and tested before embarking on a cruise ship.

The CDC also recommends wearing masks while onboard and practicing social distancing.

Elise Thorne
Elise Thorne

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