How Requirements Could Change In The Future
One final thing to know is that requirements could change in the future.
Up until July 2022, cruise lines followed the CDCs voluntary program for Covid protocols on cruise ships. However, the health agency ended that program, giving cruise lines more leeway on how to implement rules around things like testing and vaccines.
As the world has learned to live alongside the virus and it appears less severe, restrictions have eased around the world and on cruise ships. It is possible that vaccine mandates put in place could ease as well. For example, Virgin Voyages recently went from requiring all passengers to have the vaccine to 90%.
You should look to your specific cruise line for the latest details on their policy. We expect that over time cruise lines will move toward being more relaxed on vaccine requirements. At this time, however, the vast majority of passengers must have the shot.
Below weve listed policies for major cruise lines. While all cruise lines offer the ability for younger kids to sail without the vaccine, those with an asterisk indicate cruise lines with exemptions for adults.
Cunard Luxury Cruise Line
Vaccination Requirements: Guests over the age of 16 are required to be fully vaccinated and have their booster shot a minimum of one week before sailing. Children ages 5-15 are required to be fully vaccinated but do not need a booster shot. Children ages 5-11 are eligible to apply for a vaccination exemption.
Testing Requirements: All guests 5 and older are required to take an official negative COVID-19 test before embarking.
Mask Mandates: Masks are not required on board, but are required during embarkation, disembarkation, and at certain port centers.
Destination Requirements: While Cunard does not have any regulations on who may go ashore during the sailing, all passengers are still required to comply with any and all local protocols.
For more information, please see here.
Grand Circle Cruise Line
Where they sail: Grand Circle Cruise Line sails small ships and river cruises all over the world, including an extensive list of European itineraries. The company plans to start sailing again in August, including to Greece, Turkey, and Italy.
Who needs the vaccine: All guests and crew are required to be fully vaccinated with the booster shot.
What other safety measures are in place: All ships have been equipped with High Efficiency Particular Air filters and buffets have been eliminated. The cruise line states some itineraries will require proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to travel, and that instructors will be sent out 30 days prior to travel.
Find out more: Grand Circle Cruise Line
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Sailing Princess Without The Vaccine*
Princess is among the most lenient when it comes to sailing unvaccinated. They offer the ability to apply for an exemption for any reason . However, it is currently limited to 10% of passengers and on a first-come, first-served basis:
We manage an exemption process for guests who are not vaccinated regardless of the reason, subject to the regulations of the ports we visit. Exemptions are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Children under 5 years old are not required to apply for an exemption but must still follow all other requirements for unvaccinated guests. Exemptions can be obtained by calling 1-800-PRINCESS.
Which Cruise Ports Require A Passport
You need a passport for any cruise that departs out of a foreign port that you need to fly to. Cruises departing from Europe, South America, Asia, Africa and Australia require passports. If youre flying to Caribbean islands like Barbados or the Bahamas, or Canadian homeports, such as Vancouver and Montreal, you will need to carry a passport.
Remember that cruise ports such as San Juan, Puerto Rico, and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, are actually part of the U.S. Treat those flights as domestic travel.
If you are sailing out of one U.S. homeport and disembarking at the end of your voyage in a different one, you also need a passport for your cruise. For example, a Panama Canal cruise that leaves from Miami and ends in Los Angeles will require a passport.
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First Major Us Cruise Line Encourages Unvaccinated Guests To Sail
Carnival Corporation brand, Princess Cruises, has become the first major North American cruise line to drop the green flag for unvaccinated cruisers.
On an update to their health and protocol page on July 14, the line said, We want to make sailing with Princess Cruises as easy, hassle-free, and safe as possible, regardless of your vaccination status, which is why we rigorously follow guidelines from governmental, health and regulatory organizations throughout the world.
With the recent easing of CDC vaccination requirements, the options available to unvaccinated guests continue to expand.
It went on to say, We can now accommodate up to 10% of unvaccinated guests on most sailings without burdensome exemptions or vaccine status justification, available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Previously, for approval, guests had to apply for a medical exemption that had to be backed by a note from the guests doctor. The new policy allows anyone the opportunity to sail, regardless of vaccination status.
The exception to the Rule
There is an exception to the rule for voyages that call to Canada.
The line says, Please note that cruises that begin, end or visit Canada will require sailing guests ages 12 and above who are not Canadian citizens be fully vaccinated, unless they are granted a medical exemption.
Regardless, a negative test result is still required on all Princess voyages through a PCR, Antigen, or NAAT test.
Can I Go On A Cruise With A Passport Card
Again, it depends on the cruise.
If youre not familiar with a passport card, its a government-issued I.D. that is the size of a drivers license. A passport card is different than a passport book, the multi-page booklets that customs officials stamp as you enter a country.
You can cruise with just a passport card if youre sailing within the Western Hemisphere to the Caribbean, Bermuda, Canada, Mexico, or Puerto Rico, as long as you dont need to take an international flight to get to or from your ship.
Boarding Cruises And Shore Excursions
Some requirements for boarding a cruise, either at the beginning of the cruise or as part of a shore excursion, may be different depending on where you are boarding and which countries your ship will visit.
Mandatory requirements for all travellers, including Canadians, include pre-embarkation testing and can include ArriveCAN if your ship is coming to or returning to Canada.
Choose the scenario below that best fits your cruise plans:
These requirements apply to cruises:
- arriving in Canada from a foreign country
- starting in Canada, but travelling outside Canadian waters and then returning to Canada
All travellers are required to:
The Current Rules On The Major Cruise Lines
Note that in some cases, the restrictions may depend on your departure point and the ships home port. Vaccines are also required to be administered at least 14 days prior to travel.
Celebrity Cruises has different vaccine requirements for different destinations so do double check. In the US, Canada and Bermuda, all passengers over 12 must be vaccinated, but in Europe, only those over the age of 18 need to be vaccinated. For the Galapagos Islands, anyone over the age of three must be vaccinated. Boosters are not required but are recommended. Those over the age of two will need a pre-embarkation Covid test. From August 8, vaccinated passengers travelling from the US will not need a pre-travel Covid test for short sailings .
Princess Cruises will accept unvaccinated passengers with advance booking but you may be prevented from disembarking at certain destinations depending on the local restrictions in place. Generally everyone over the age of four will need to be vaccinated and pre-travel testing requirements vary according to departure port and your vaccine status.
The requirements can vary between ports but on the whole, Royal Caribbean requires all passengers over the age of 12 to be fully vaccinated. On European sailings, this includes booster jabs where eligible. All guests over the age of two will need a pre-departure Covid test.
Additional reporting by Qin Xie
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When Your Cruise Ends
- If youre symptomatic at final disembarkation, a Quarantine Officer may require you to isolate.
- If you take a test after your cruise ends in Canada , and the test result is positive, you will be required to follow the requirements of the local public health authority, which may include isolation. Plan to have enough funds to cover the costs of a suitable place to isolate, food, and any medical bills.
- A positive test, including a recent positive within the last 10 days, may prevent you from boarding a flight departing Canada, or being able to take other public transit.
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.
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Can I Get A Covid Test At The Embarkation Port From The Cruise Line
Some cruise lines offer covid testing at the terminal as an option, but not all.
In some cases, the testing is only available as a backup option, in case your testing options prior to the sailing fall through. A few will offer testing at the terminal as a primary option.
You’ll need to check with your cruise line as to if they offer any testing at the embarkation port, but you should not count on it being an option.
If you’re travelling internationally for your cruise, you could bring an acceptable at-home Covid test with you, or make an appointment for a test at the airport you fly into.
In nearly all cases, the pre-cruise covid test you take will be your financial responsibility.
One Final Note About Cruising Unvaccinated
As a reminder, with the CDC lifting its voluntary program, its possible that rules around vaccine requirements could ease in the coming weeks and months. That means if you dont have the shot, then you might have more options to sail in the future.
That said, by far the easiest and healthiest way to take a cruise right now is to simply be vaccinated. It offers you the ability to sail any line at any time, without having to go through an exemption process.
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Can You Go On A Cruise Without A Passport
First time cruisers often ask if they need a passport to go on a cruise. The answer is that you generally need a passport to travel to a foreign country, but select itineraries sailing roundtrip from U.S. homeports do not require passports as travel documents.
Here, we answer the most common questions about passports for cruises. Remember: Its always the travelers responsibility to make sure they have the correct identification and documentation for your cruise. Otherwise, you could get turned away at the cruise port.
Other Cruise Lines Also Allowing Unvaccinated Onboard
Royal Caribbean’s announcement follows other cruise lines that have already relaxed their vaccine restrictions recently.
Norwegian Cruise Line made headlines when it announced it would end its vaccine requirement.
Beginning September 3, cruisers that are 12 or older who are unvaccinated or don’t show proof of vaccination will be allowed onboard as long as they can show the results of a negative antigen or PCR test taken in the 72 hours before boarding.
Children under 12 will have no testing or vaccination requirements.
NCL’s policy also applies to sister brands Oceania and Regent Seven Seas.
NCL’s rule change is subject to certain local guidelines, so cruises visiting Canada, Bermuda, or Greece will still require adults to be vaccinated.
Princess Cruises will also begin welcoming a small amount of unvaccinated adults onboard.
Princess said it will allow up to 10% of unvaccinated guests on most sailings without exemptions or vaccine status justification. Unvaccinated cruisers must apply on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests will need to notify the reservations team at time of booking to ensure that they are counted as part of the 10% threshold.
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Sailing Celebrity Without The Vaccine
Celebrity currently says that it operates cruises with crew and guest vaccination rates approaching 100%.
For cruises from the U.S., the cruise line currently requires that All guests who are eligible to be vaccinated must be fully vaccinated with all initial doses administered at least 14 days prior to sailing. As of May 5, 2022, this will include all guests 12 years of age and older on all Celebrity Cruises sailings.
So kids under 12 do not need to be vaccinated, however, adults do need to have the shot.
When Will Covid Vaccine Requirements Go Away
I think that its likely to be a requirement that is in place through this fall and winter, Gottlieb said. Im talking more about CDC and the policy environment. I think that the public health officials — CDC — is going to want to see what the epidemiology of this disease is when it gets to a quote, unquote, normal state.”
The decision depends largely on how the pandemic progresses and whether we see a new variant flare up.
I think CDC is going to want to see what does that looks like. Well hopefully get our first glimpse of that this year. This is like a transition year. Then theyll make decisions about whether or not they continue to require vaccines in certain settings,” he said,
Cruise lines have generally not been a priority for the CDC which kept the industry grounded for more than a year. Despite that, Gottlieb does see some light at the end of the tunnel.
The short answer to the question is: I think this is kind of a springtime thing from a CDC policy standpoint. They are going to want to make a decision around this after we get through another fall and winter with covid and see if we are truly in an endemic phase with this.
While vaccination requirements could go away in 2023, testing requirements are likely to continue for the foreseeable future .
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Carnival Cruise Line Updates Protocols For Unvaccinated Passengers
Carnival Cruise Line announced updated rules and protocols for unvaccinated passengers sailing on its ships through the end of December.
The most notable changes include unvaccinated guests now being permitted to go ashore to enjoy one of Carnivals tours or independent sightseeing events. Several destinations still do not welcome unvaccinated travelers, as the cruise line revealed on its official website:
San Juan – age 12 and older will have to remain on board
Bonaire – age 12 and older will have to remain on board
Grand Cayman – age 12 and older will have to remain on board
St. Kitts – age 12 and older will have to remain on board
Tortola – age 12 and older will have to remain on board
Grand Turk – age 16 and older will have to remain on board
Cartagena, Colombia – age 18 and older will have to remain on board
The cruise line revealed certain destinations have continued to impose restrictions for unvaccinated passengers and cannot guarantee that more will not be added. All unvaccinated guests aged two and older must present a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 and 24 hours before the sailing date.
Regardless of the cruise length, antigen testing will be provided on a complimentary basis to children ages 2-4. Children ages 5-11 will be charged $60 per person and guests ages 12 and older will be charged $150 per person.
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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