Cruising With Unvaccinated Kids
Children may or may not be able to cruise, depending on the ship. Norwegian Cruise Line doesn’t allow children under the age of 5 to cruise, for example, because they can’t get vaccinated yet. In the specific event that you have a child turning 5 during the voyage, check in with your cruise line before buying a ticket.
Looking for a family cruise on Disney’s cruise line? Disney Cruise Line became the first cruise line to require passengers as young as 5 to be vaccinated for sailings starting Jan. 13.
While other cruise lines may not officially require vaccinations for kids that young yet, they may in the future. If you’re not comfortable vaccinating your child under 12, hold off on buying them a ticket or get confirmation on a timeline for requirements from your desired cruise line. Remember: Vaccine exemptions and refunds are not guaranteed.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
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What Does ‘fully Vaccinated’ Mean
It seems most cruise lines are following the CDC’s definition of fully vaccinated, which means two weeks have passed since your second shot of Pfizer or Moderna, or since your one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot. It’s possible a cruise line may accept one shot of a viral vector vaccine, such as AstraZeneca, and one shot of an mRNA vaccine, but this practice of mixing for a COVID-19 vaccine primary series isn’t authorized yet in the US.
Some cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, accept vaccines recommended or approved by the World Health Organization as well as the CDC. This includes vaccines such as AstraZeneca and Sinovac. See the full list of vaccines approved by the WHO here.
Bottom line: If you’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 outside of the US, check with your cruise line to make sure they accept your vaccine before putting any money down. It’s also important to know that while all adults in the US are now eligible for boosters, the definition of “fully vaccinated” hasn’t changed and you don’t need an extra shot to be considered fully vaccinated.
All guests, regardless of vaccination status, should expect to be tested for COVID-19 prior to boarding a cruise ship.
The Current Rules On The Major Ocean Cruise Lines
Note that in some cases, the restrictions may depend on your departure point and the ships home port so always check before sailing. Vaccines are also required to be administered at least 14 days prior to travel.
Azamara*Passengers no longer need to take pre-travel Covid tests except where required by local restrictions. All passengers over the age of 12 must be fully vaccinated. Booster jabs are required where eligible and are considered effective immediately. However, from December 1, 2022, Azamara will no longer require proof of vaccination for sailings starting and ending in the US or sailings starting and ending in Europe. All other sailings require proof of vaccination and booster until further notice.
Carnival Cruise LineFrom September 6 only passengers on sailings to Canada, Bermuda, Greece and Australia, plus cruises of 16 nights or more, need to be fully vaccinated. Vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers can go on all other cruises, with unvaccinated guests showing proof of a negative PCR or antigen test taken within three days of embarkation. Pre-boarding tests are not required for vaccinated guests.
From September 5, passengers sailing from the UK, Europe and the US will no longer need to be vaccinated. However, a pre-travel Covid test is required for those who are unvaccinated. A pre-travel Covid test is still required for all sailings longer than six nights.
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Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
All guests on all sailings through the end of 2022 with Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection are required to be fully vaccinated. Booster shots might also be required for entry into the specific country of embarkation as well as the destinations along the itinerary.
Children who are not old enough to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine must present a negative antigen or PCR test result taken within 72 hours of embarkation.
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What This Means For You
If youre considering booking a cruise this holiday season, assess your risk level based on your health status. If you do decide to set sail on a ship, take precautions before and during your trip to avoid getting sick. In the occasion of an outbreak on board, listen closely to instructions. If you feel sick, be sure to report your illness to the crew.
The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.
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How Cruise Lines Covid Vaccination And Testing Rules Have Changed
When cruise lines restarted operations in summer 2021, after being banned by the CDC from operating for 15 months due to COVID-19-related safety concerns, it was with strict CDC-imposed regulations. They included vaccination requirements for anyone age 12 and up , precruise testing requirements, mandatory masking in public areas, social distancing, and other measures the CDC said would help contain the spread of COVID-19 on cruise ships.
After two years of first banning and then advising against cruising due to pandemic-related health and safety risks, in late March 2022, the CDC dropped its warning to travelers about the health risks of cruising during the COVID pandemic.
In May, the CDC scaled back slightly on its tough restrictions for cruise lines by allowing ships to declare themselves as highly vaccinated if 90 percent of passengers and at least 95 percent of crew were vaccinated. Previously, the number was 95 percent for passengers. The change allowed more unvaccinated children who didnt yet qualify for a vaccine or had not obtained a vaccine to come onboard during the summer.
The agency provided the cruise lines with greater leeway to set and monitor their own policies. Consequently, most cruise lines opted to make masks optional. But the CDC still maintained a close watch, publishing a color-coded chart of ship outbreaks that it updated regularly.
Carnival Cruise Line Vaccine Policy
Carnival will now allow all passengers — including those who are unvaccinated — to sail freely as of September 6, 2022. This simplifies the requirements to sail.
First and foremost, unvaccinated passengers of any age are allowed to sail the cruise line without having to first apply for an exemption as was previously required. However, before they cruise, those without the shot will need to have a negative test taken within three days of cruising .
There are a few exceptions. Cruises from Australia — or those 16 nights or longer — do still require a passenger be vaccinated to sail.
Vaccinated passengers don’t need to test unless visiting Canada, Bermuda, Greece or Australia and on trips of 16 nights or longer.
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Find Out The Cruise Vaccination Requirements For Your Next Voyage
Its understandable why many voyagers can get muddled on what they need to do in relation to COVID-19 vaccination requirements for their next cruise. As with any rapidly changing scenario like this one, laws, and regulations change at a rapid pace, and this often affects your cruise vaccination requirements as well. In turn, each operator has prepared their own cruise vaccination policy that is designed to work across all destinations they service. If you want to ensure you have a worry-free voyage, we strongly suggest reading these cruise health policies carefully. Not sure where to go? Have no fear, we provide all the relevant links and information you need for all of the major cruise lines below.
What You Need To Know
- Check if you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines before cruise ship travel.
- If you have a medical condition or are taking medication that weakens your immune system, you might NOT be fully protected even if you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines. Talk to your healthcare provider about your risk before travel. Even after vaccination, you may need to continue taking precautions.
- The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters on board ships. If the virus is spreading on board a cruise ship, passengers and crew are at risk for infection.
- Check directly with your cruise line about their testing or vaccination protocols before travel.
- If your cruise line does not have a testing requirement, get tested for current infection with a COVID-19 viral test as close to time of cruise departure as possible .
- Get tested again with a COVID-19 viral test 3-5 days after your cruise.
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Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Inc
The three cruise lines under NCLH have also made amendments to their testing and vaccination policies.
Norwegian Cruise Line announced a large easing of vaccination requirements, effective August 11: all guests 12 and up will be required to either provide proof of full vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test result.
There will be, of course, some itineraries with different rules, due to specific destinations requirements, like Greece, Canada and Bermuda, which continue to require fully vaccinated guests.
Beginning September 3, Oceania Cruises will no longer require vaccinated travelers to test prior to embarkation. Unvaccinated travelers will be able to sail with a recently administered negative COVID-19 test result, with some exclusions.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises will also amend its testing and vaccination requirements beginning September 3. Fully vaccinated guests will no longer need to provide negative COVID-19 tests, while unvaccinated guests will be allowed onboard provided they test negative ahead of embarkation .
Travelers will also undergo a pre-embarkation health screening.
Will Cruise Lines Drop Their Vaccine Requirement
While most cruise lines require adults to be vaccinated right now, unvaccinated readers want to know when the vaccine mandate may go away.
There is no definitive answer as to when a vaccine requirement to go on a cruise ship may go away, but at the very least it stands to reason not until the public health emergency ends. As long as Covid-19 remains a pandemic, it seems unlikely cruise lines will change protocols.
As the threat of Covid-19 begins to diminish, there is a possibility cruise lines may relax health protocols, including allowing unvaccinated people to go on a cruise ship.
For now, none of the cruise lines that have a vaccine requirement have announced any plans to rescind that rule in the future.
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Norwegian Cruise Line Vaccine Policy
Starting September 3, 2022, Norwegian Cruise Line no longer requires passengers to be vaccinated to sail.
After that date, all passengers under 12 years and younger will be free to sail without needing a vaccine or requiring a test before boarding. In other words, it will be just as it was before the pandemic for kids
Passengers over 12 years old will no longer require a Covid test to cruise if they are vaccinated. If unvaccinated, passengers are now able to still cruise but must have a negative test taking within 72 hours of embarkation.
Note that there are still vaccine/testing requirements from ports including Greece, Canada, and Bermuda.
Virgin Voyages Updates Protocols And Removes Vaccine Mandate
Virgin Voyages updates its protocols to align with other cruise lines operating from the U.S. and allowing unvaccinated guests to sail.
Following the example set by a majority of cruise lines in the past weeks, Virgin Voyages has made various updates to its health and safety protocols. The cruise line will no longer require guests to be fully vaccinated, with only unvaccinated guests needing to provide a negative test result.
Virgin Voyages became the first cruise line to remove pre-cruise testing in July 2022 but seemed to have waited to see how other cruise lines fared with removing the mandatory vaccination status. The new protocols will come into effect later this month.
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Unvaccinated Adults And Vaccine Exemptions
Most major cruise lines require proof of vaccination for all passengers age 12 and up, and some require them for kids as young as 5 years old . Last week, Disney Cruise Line became the first cruise line to require passengers as young as 5 to be vaccinated for sailings starting Jan. 13.
While some cruise lines state they’ll accept medical exemptions, others do not, and it also might depend on the port. Carnival, for example, says it’ll accept some vaccine exemptions from those ages 12 and younger, as well as adults who have “” that they can’t be vaccinated — but only at their Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, South Carolina and Alabama ports until the end of March 2022. COVID-19 vaccine exemptions at Carnival’s Long Beach, California port will only be accepted for kids under age 12 and when “required by US federal law” due to religious beliefs or medical reasons.
How long will the vaccine requirement be in place for cruise passengers? That’s hard to say because it depends on the state of the pandemic at any given time. It also varies based on different rules for cruise ships or territories, and evolving guidance from the CDC.
The testing and masking requirement specifics may differ by cruise or length of sail, but everyone age 2 and older should be prepared to be tested for COVID-19 before boarding, or during the journey when applicable, regardless of vaccination status.
Will I Need A Covid
Editors note: This post has been updated with new information.
When the first cruises allowing Americans restarted in spring 2021, all major lines were sailing with at least 90% of passengers vaccinated against COVID-19. That meant they required just about everyone on board to have their shots, with few exceptions allowed for young children and people who cant be vaccinated due to medical conditions or religious beliefs.
But now, little more than a year later, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has withdrawn its opt-in guidance for cruise lines, and many are now allowing more unvaccinated passengers to sail.
So, will you need a vaccine to cruise? Click on your favorite cruise line below to find out.
For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPGs new cruise newsletter.
Note: In order to be considered “fully vaccinated,” passengers must have received their final shot at least 15 days prior to embarkation. Most lines only accept vaccines recognized and approved by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Generally, proof of inoculation must include your name, the type of vaccine you received and the dates on which you received all required doses.
Check out our recap of youth immunization policies for details on cruise vaccination requirements for kids. For general information on testing, please refer to our article on cruise testing requirements.
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The Current Rules On River Cruise Lines
At present most river lines, including AmaWaterways, Avalon, Emerald Cruises, Scenic, Tauck, Uniworld and Viking, require passengers to be fully vaccinated. The only exception is A-Rosa where there is no longer any obligation to provide proof of vaccination. However, the line recommends passengers carry out a self-test before boarding.
Pre-boarding testing for other lines is mainly dependent on the current requirements in the country of embarkation and passengers should check with their line prior to travel.
Virgin Voyages Welcomes Unvaccinated Passengers
The three major cruise lines sailing from U.S. ports — Royal Caribbean International , Carnival Cruise Lines CCL, and Norwegian Cruise Line NCLH — still require pre-cruise covid tests taken no more than two days before your cruise and that all guests ages 12-and-over provide proof of vaccination.
Virgin Voyages, a fledgling cruise line sailing one of its two ships, the Scarlet Lady, out of Miami, dropped the pre-cruise testing requirement after the CDC stopped monitoring covid on cruise ships. Now, the cruise brand owned by billionaire Richard Branson has quietly decided to allow some unvaccinated “sailors,” as it calls its passengers, on its upcoming voyages.
The company shared that information in an email that was sent to people booked on upcoming sailings.
“Were still requiring that the majority of Sailors be vaccinated, but were opening up our voyages for a limited number of unvaccinated Sailors to join us. Our Crew will remain fully vaccinated as they are now. As always, your safety is our first priority, so we will continue with our other protocols to keep you well while enjoying your relaxing vacation,” the cruise line shared in the email.
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Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line requires all guests 12 and older to be fully vaccinated and present proof of vaccination.
Cruisers ages 3 through 11 must provide negative Covid test results from a PCR test taken within 72 hours of sailing and take an antigen test at the cruise terminal on embarkation day at their family’s expense. The cost is $75 per person for this test at the terminal.
If guests are unable to provide a PCR test, one can be done at the port. The cost of this is $150 per person non-refundable and will be charged to their onboard account.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s original policy was that unvaccinated travelers should get tested at least three days before their trip, as well as after. The cruise line recommends all unvaccinated travelers self quarantine for a week after travel.
In addition, the Bahamas requires Cruise & Stay and one-way travelers to Freeport to present a Bahamas Health Travel Visa.