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Carnival, Royal Caribbean and more to drop vaccination requirements for select sailings

  • August 12, 2022

Four major cruise lines are dropping their vaccination requirements for some sailings next month, the cruise lines said.

Carnival Cruise Line will no longer require unvaccinated guests to apply for an exemption in order to sail as of Sep. 6, according to a news release. That does not include voyages in Australia or trips that are 16 or more nights, and the changes are subject to local restrictions.

Princess Cruises will also remove vaccination requirements on “most voyages of less than 16 days so that anyone can cruise” starting Sept. 6, according to a news release Friday. Princess currently requires unvaccinated guests to have a vaccine exemption before they can sail, according to its website.

Similarly, Royal Caribbean will welcome all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, as well on sailings from Los Angeles, New Orleans, Galveston, Texas, and Europe beginning Sept. 5 “as long as testing requirements are met,” a spokesperson told USA TODAY via email Thursday.

“We are collaborating with local governments throughout the Caribbean to align on vaccination requirements for additional itineraries,” the spokesperson added.

Royal Caribbean currently requires guests 12 and older to show proof of vaccination before they can sail from North America, according to its website.

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And starting on the same date, Celebrity Cruises will welcome all passengers who follow testing rules on sailings from Los Angeles, the United Kingdom and Europe – excluding Iceland – according to its website.

The changes come after Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. announced plans to adjust its COVID-19 rules as well, allowing all passengers to embark.

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.

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When do cruise lines still require COVID-19 testing?

► Carnival Cruise Line will require testing for vaccinated passengers only on trips 16 nights or longer or where local rules mandate it, such as on sailings to Canada and Bermuda, starting on Sept. 6, according to a press release.

Passengers who are unvaccinated or do not show proof of vaccination will still need to “present the results of a negative PCR or antigen test taken within three days of embarkation.” Those under 5 years old are exempt from vaccine and testing requirements in the U.S.

► Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. will drop all pre-cruise requirements for vaccinated passengers ages 12 and over as of Sept. 3, according to a news release.

Guests ages 12 and older who are unvaccinated or do not show proof of vaccination will still need to test within 72 hours before boarding. The company said it “continues to strongly recommend all guests be up to date on vaccination protocols and test at their convenience prior to travel.” Changes are subject to local requirements.

► On sailings from the U.S., MSC Cruises requires tests for fully vaccinated passengers sailing on trips six nights or longer and for all unvaccinated passengers age 2 or older, regardless of trip length, according to a press release. Tests must be taken within three days of embarkation. The cruise line recommends guests test within one day of the trip when possible.

Princess Cruises will require passengers sailing on trips 16 nights or longer to “take a supervised test within three days of embarkation (guests 5 and older),” starting Sept. 6, as well as those on full Panama Canal transits and certain other voyages.

Unvaccinated passengers must show a negative result from a self-test taken within three days of their trip on sailings 15 nights or less, though unvaccinated children under 5 are exempt.

► Holland America Line requires all guests age 2 and older to test before their trip. All guests 12 and up must be vaccinated, according to the cruise line’s website. Passengers ages 5 and 11 can also be unvaccinated but will need an exemption.

Guests who are up to date on their vaccines and have received a booster when eligible can test within three days before sailing. If they are vaccinated but not up to date, they will need to test within two days.

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