Cruising in the Time of COVID: Are Cruise Lines Still Sailing?

Cruise lines have been navigating the choppy waters of the pandemic, with some continuing to offer scheduled trips while others have had to cancel trips when necessary. Pre-cruise testing for vaccinated guests has been ended on most trips, except for those to Canada, Bermuda, Greece and Australia, depending on local regulations, and on trips of 16 nights or more. MSC Cruises is sailing with its full health and safety protocol in place, while Carnival Cruise Line has opted to sail with 95% of vaccinated guests. Exemptions are granted to a small number of passengers (mostly children) who request them.

Carnival has also instituted pre-cruise testing and mask requirements, regardless of vaccination status. Norwegian Cruise Line was the last of the three major cruise lines to resume service. The brand will sail with 100% vaccinated guests until at least the end of October. Pre-cruise testing is currently required, but masks are not required.

Norwegian Cruise Line already has three ships on board and Norwegian Epic is scheduled to start sailing on Labor Day weekend. Celebrity Cruises is sailing with at least 95% of passengers vaccinated. Recently, the cruise line has established a pre-cruise testing requirement, regardless of vaccination status, due to the increase in COVID status with respect to the Delta variant. Unlike other cruise lines, a mask mandate has not yet been established on Celebrity Cruises. According to Scrivanich, cruise lines are currently sailing between 70 and 100% of their capacity, depending on the destination.

So, can you still find an offer? The answer is yes! Carnival Cruise Line has been making headlines with the resumption of cruises since the beginning of July. MSC Cruises follows closely behind with the second highest number of cruise ships currently sailing. Travelers worried about getting sick aboard a cruise ship can rest assured that cruise lines aren't sailing alone in the ongoing pandemic. Celebrity Cruises withdrew its testing requirement for cruise ships of five days or less for vaccinated passengers in August. Carnival Cruise Line also changed its safety regulations, and Norwegian Cruise Line withdrew its mandate to wear masks on board this spring. The list of things you can't do on cruise ships is shorter than it was a year ago, so as long as you know what to expect, you can enjoy an open water vacation.

According to a recent survey among Cruise Critic readers, travelers consider cruises to be more attractive than other activities that carry a high risk of COVID-19. With reasonable rates available, travelers are taking full advantage and booking scenic cruises on the American river or bringing the little ones together for a cruise with children on the ocean.

Elise Thorne
Elise Thorne

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