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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.
What Kind Of On
Cruise lines still have on-board protocols in place, as well. For its part, Carnival requires passengers who are exposed to or in close contact with anyone who tests positive for COVID or displays symptoms to be tested, along with their close contacts, according to its website. Those passengers may have to quarantine in their rooms until medical staff clears them.
Other cruise lines have similar protocols in place, like Norwegian, which advises passengers who have COVID symptoms while sailing to contact the ship’s medical center, which is equipped to test on board, per its website. Royal Caribbean Group’s namesake brand, Royal Caribbean International, also offers testing to travelers who feel sick, and its medical lab “allows for rapid, accurate onsite PCR testing with results in under an hour, alongside a multitude of other evaluative tests,” its website reads.
What If I Have A Certificate Of Recovery
Some countries issue “certificates of recovery” if someone has been infected with COVID-19 and recovered, issuing a certificate that proves a positive COVID-19 test and recovery, instead of vaccination as someone’s proof of immunity. The European Union’s Digital COVID Certificate, for example, includes certification of recovery from COVID-19.
For guests departing outside of the US who are cruising with Royal Caribbean, they may present a certificate of recovery. If you’re not in the US and have a certificate of recovery, contact your desired cruise line before purchasing the cruise.
The US doesn’t issue certificates of recovery at this time, so telling the cruise line you already had COVID-19 won’t get you a vaccine exemption.
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Major Cruise Line Drops Vaccine Requirement From Us Ports
- Publish date: Jul 22, 2022 5:26 PM EDT
As the cruise industry has made its way back from its covid-related March 2020 through July 2021 closure, a lot of people have put off cruising until it returned to “normal.” That’s a relative word, however, as your normal and my normal may not be the same.
Some people waited to cruise until masks were no longer required while others won’t step onboard until every covid-related protocol goes away. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control stopped tracking the presence of covid on ships and issued a new set of guidelines for the cruise industry. These included recommendations that ships continue to require pre-cruise testing and for passengers to be vaccinated.
Here’s what the CDC currently recommends when it comes to vaccines.
“CDC recommends all eligible travelers be up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccines. In addition to the protection COVID-19 vaccines provide to individual travelers in preventing severe illness or death from COVID-19, having a high proportion of travelers on board who are up to date with COVID-19 vaccines reduces the likelihood that cruise ships medical centers are overwhelmed by cases of COVID-19.”
The guidance also makes it clear that 90% is what a “high proportion” of travelers means. That number has come down from 95% and it was generally believed to be a number to account for kids too young to get vaccinated to be onboard.
Which Cruise Lines Accept Passengers Who Havent Been Vaccinated
A-Rosa River Cruises* was the first line to relax the health measures for passengers. On June 7 the company removed the need for guests to provide proof of vaccination, recovery, or a certified negative test result before embarking on its fleet of European ships.
The line also removed the mask-wearing rule for passengers, and the requirement for rapid antigen testing before boarding the ship in May.
The only exception to the latest move will be for passengers sailing on A-Rosa ALVA on the Douro in Portugal. Due to regional regulations, passengers over the age of 12 continue to require proof of complete vaccination or recovery from Covid in order to join the cruise. Additionally, the requirement to wear face masks when moving around on the ship, and rapid antigen testing prior to boarding, remains in place.
Measures such as extended cleaning and disinfection protocols across the fleet will remain in place to ensure hygiene standards are upheld.
A spokesman for the line said: As always, the wellbeing and health of all guests and crew members remains a top priority and the care team will continue to monitor the situation and, if necessary, will adjust and adapt the protocols accordingly if required.
Several cruise lines, including Celebrity Cruises*, Cunard*, Disney Cruise Line, and Holland America Line*, will accept unvaccinated children. There is an age limit for this, which varies from line to line and port to port.
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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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Many Cruise Lines Have Rolled Back Testing Rules
Royal Caribbean Group, parent company of Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity, also rolled back its testing requirements this month, following the end of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships. The company requires vaccinated passengers to take a test only on sailings six nights or longer, but testing is still required for unvaccinated passengers on all sailings.
Many other cruise line operators and brands made similar protocol changes, including Carnival Cruise Line and MSC Cruises.
First-time cruisers:3 things to know before stepping foot on the ship
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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.
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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Can I Go On A Cruise Without Being Vaccinated
Friday August 5 2022, 15:00pm
As travel returns to normal, many destinations are scrapping their Covid-related requirements. For the cruise industry, which suffered from multiple outbreaks at the beginning of the pandemic, some of the most stringent health measures remain.
Most major cruise lines still require passengers to be fully vaccinated, including having the relevant booster jabs. Norwegian Cruise Line*, Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean* International, for example, are all headquartered in the US, which means they must follow the guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even when theyre sailing outside of the country.
Vaccine requirements may soon change, however. The CDC updated its guidelines on July 18 so that vaccination is no longer a requirement instead, its merely recommended. A number of cruise lines are now reviewing their policies following the change. Heres what you need to know.
Main photo: a cruise ship docked near Gran Turk beach
*This article contains affiliate links.
Advice If Your Cruise Ship Travel Is Outside Of Canada
- Ensure that your passport is valid beyond the duration of your trip and check with your transportation company and destination countries about passport requirements.
- Check the Travel Advice and Advisories page for your destination or shore excursion locations to find local COVID-19 restrictions and requirements.
- Buy a comprehensive travel health insurance and plan to have access to sufficient funds to cover unexpected medical bills, including COVID-19 related expenses or medical evacuation while you are abroad. The cost of required medical care could be very high and you may need to pay medical bills upfront or immediately after treatment. The Government of Canada doesnt pay hospital and medical bills.
- Access to consular services while travelling on cruise ships may be quite limited, particularly in quarantine situations.
- You could be subject to mandatory testing, quarantine and isolation procedures onboard the ship or in a foreign country.
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Why Can Cruise Lines Now Allow Unvaccinated Passengers Onboard
The change in policy is rooted primarily in a change in policy by the U.S. government.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ended its Covid-19 program for U.S. cruise ships July 18, 2022. This allowed the cruise lines to develop their own protocols, instead of it being mandated.
The CDC still makes recommendations to the lines, but ultimately, cruise lines craft protocols as they see fit, similar to other forms of leisure travel.
Virgin Voyages Welcomes Unvaccinated Passengers
The three major cruise lines sailing from U.S. ports — Royal Caribbean International – Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, 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.
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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.
No Covid Vaccines Needed To Cruise On Royal Caribbean Ships
Starting July 2, Royal Caribbean ships will not be requiring passengers to have covid vaccines for sailings from the U.S. Meanwhile, Hawaii is set to abolish inter-island travel restrictions, but United Airlines will require new employees to prove they are vaccinated.
The Washington Post:Royal Caribbean Announces Cruises With No Vaccine Requirement Cruise giant Royal Caribbean International on Friday announced plans to bring back six more ships including some of its largest for U.S. sailings starting July 2. The Miami-based operator will not require passengers to be vaccinated. Guests are strongly recommended to set sail fully vaccinated, if they are eligible, the cruise line said in a news release. Those who are unvaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols, which will be announced at a later date. Crew members will be fully vaccinated.
USA Today:Flying To Maui? Travelers Will No Longer Be Tested For Coronavirus On ArrivalTravelers to Maui who aren’t vaccinated will no longer be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, a move that eliminates one travel restriction as vacationers flock to the island this summer. The popular Hawaii destination ended the testing program on Friday after a month of test results found just a handful of positive cases among visitors and residents. “I think the time has arrived,” Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said this week in announcing the end of the testing.
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Can Cruise Lines Require Crew And Passengers To Get Covid
In an article published by Cruise Critic, Member Ron Schirtzer is quoted discussing whether travel companies can legally impose vaccine requirements.
From a legal standpoint, there is nothing at this point that would suggest that if you wanted to impose a pre-cruise vaccination requirement that either a government will stop you from doing it or that’s there is a likelihood for civil liability, Schirtzer said.
While mandatory vaccination requirements are not a new concept, exceptions are typically required for those who can demonstrate that taking the vaccine imposes a health risk.
All in all, while a vaccine requirement would potentially inspire some kind of lawsuit, it likely would not be successful, Schirtzer said.
For the full article, click here.
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.
Vaccines Masks And Testing: What Cruise Lines Require Now
As the cruise industry resumes operations around the world, lines have introduced mandates that require some, or all, passengers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — and that can include children, as well.
But not all cruise lines have the same policies and cruise requirements vary from port to port, ship to ship, itinerary to itinerary, country to country and state to state. To complicate things even more, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on July 18 that it was dropping its blanket COVID-19 requirements for cruise lines. That means that lines will have more leeway than ever to come up with their own policies.
Additionally, many cruise lines are beginning to modify testing requirements on short, U.S.-based departures, as of August 2022.
Here is a list of all the cruise lines that require proof of vaccination before cruising — and what you need to know in order to be able to board without a hitch .
These requirements can make things difficult for families traveling together .
Also worth noting: these requirements, particularly in terms of vaccines that are accepted and required antigen and PCR testing, can — and do — change regularly. Check with your cruise line frequently to ensure you meet all the current requirements for embarkation, as their information may be updated sooner than our guide.