On March 14, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lowered the Travel Health Notice for cruise ship travelers to Level 2 (moderate). This is down from the Level 3 (high) issued in February 2022 and, before that, Level 4 (very high) given in December 2021.
Phew! Did you get all of that? Keeping up with the rapidly changing guidelines can be tricky. The bottom line is that taking a cruise is now considered a moderate risk, and that is terrific news for cruise lines and cruise-goers, especially with all the good deals that wave season has to offer right now. But the CDC also warns that “cruise ship travel is not a zero-risk activity.” For the most up to date status of a particular cruise lines and ship, be sure to check CDC’s Cruise Ship Color Status webpage status classification before traveling.
Additionally, many major cruise lines have eased masking requirements and adjusted testing protocols for travelers. But don’t throw away your masks quite yet, as requirements differ from cruise line to cruise line, port to port. Below, we have collected guidelines for four major cruise lines:
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival continues to operate vaccinated cruises with enhanced protocols. There are limited vaccine exemptions based on age, medical necessity, and federal requirements.
Mask Requirements: Carnival recommends but doesn’t require masking while indoors on the ship. However, certain areas and activities require wearing a mask, such as in the medical center and during the boarding and de-boarding process.
Testing: Protocols differ based on vaccination status. Travelers who are up to date with vaccines (meaning, fully vaccinated + booster, if eligible) may take their test within three days before sailing. Those who are fully vaccinated but have not received the booster need to test within 48 hours of setting sail.
Travel Insurance Requirement: Carnival requires travelers sailing from Florida, Texas, South Carolina, and Virginia to provide proof of travel insurance coverage for each unvaccinated guest at check-in. If you live in one of these states, contact us to get a travel insurance quote.
Disney Cruise Line
All vaccine-eligible travelers ages five and up must be fully vaccinated as defined by CDC at the time of sailing.
Mask Requirements: Face coverings are not required in most indoor locations aboard the ship. But if you plan to go to the Walt Disney Theatre, bring that mask because everyone needs to wear one. Guests under five who are currently ineligible to be vaccinated are required to wear a mask in youth activity spaces and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
Testing: Those who are not vaccine eligible because of age must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken between three days and 24 hours before the sail date. Regardless of age and vaccination status, all travelers are required to take a COVID-19 test at the terminal before boarding.
Vaccination requirements for Royal Caribbean cruises vary by port of departure and age group. We highly recommend reading their FAQs on vaccination requirements by port before booking.
Mask Requirements Onboard the Ship: Masks are recommended but not required onboard the ship for fully vaccinated guests. Everyone must wear a mask at the cruise terminal during the boarding and screening process and disembarkation.
Unvaccinated children aged two and up must wear masks indoors and in crowded settings and while at the youth program.
Testing: Testing is required for all cruises, but as with vaccinations requirements, testing requirements vary based on the port of departure and age group. Be sure to check their FAQs on COVID-19 testing.
Norwegian Cruise Line
All guests aged twelve and over must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before departure to board. Unvaccinated children under the age of 12 are welcome, but it is the parents’ responsibility to be aware of any local protocols and travel restrictions at the visiting destinations at the time of sailing.
Mask Requirements Onboard the Ship: For most sailings, wearing a mask is recommended but not required since Norwegian cruises operate with 100% vaccination of crew and guests aged 12 and over.
On Europe sailings only, all guests must wear masks onboard while indoors except for when actively eating or drinking or when in their stateroom. Guests will also be required to wear masks outdoors when social distancing is not possible.
Testing: All travelers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test two days before the sailing date for cruises originating in a U.S. port, and three days prior for voyages departing from a non-U.S. port.
Always Check for Up-to-Date Guidelines
The guidelines listed above are just a starting point. There are many more cruise lines, each with its own set of rules and regulations. Always check the latest information on the cruise line website before booking your cruise to ensure you meet all the requirements and are comfortable with the guidelines in place.
Once you book a cruise, your next step should be protecting the investment you made into the cruise with travel insurance to help cover any non-refundable travel, event, and excursion costs associated with the cruise. Read our helpful article, Seven Things to Know About Cruise Insurance and get a quote on our award-winning cruise insurance.