Cruising into Fall and Beyond
While airlines are busy cutting flights to help temper the chaos that was summer travel, cruise lines are adding more sailings and easing up on vaccination and testing requirements. July was a big month for cruise lines, with the CDC ending the COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships and effectively giving cruise lines back the ability to set their own vaccination and testing guidelines. That led to most major cruise lines dropping testing requirements for vaccinated cruise-goers and some allowing unvaccinated cruise enthusiasts more of an opportunity to join the party at sea.
Below are a few of the most recent vaccination and testing guidelines — current as of this writing, but things are changing fast so be sure to check the cruise line website for the most up-to-date guidelines.
Royal Caribbean started operating under its new protocols as of August 8, with no testing for vaccinated guests on cruises for five days or less. Beginning September 5, they will drop the vaccination requirement entirely for all sailings departing from U.S. home ports, as long as they do not visit Canada or Bermuda.
Carnival, too, is already operating with its new protocols, which means vaccinated guests do not need to be tested on cruises that are five days or less. They now allow a small percentage of unvaccinated guests aboard their ships, to be based on the total number of vaccinated guests who have booked that particular cruise. Unvaccinated guests will still have to take a test before boarding.
Of special note for Carnival, travel insurance is required for unvaccinated guests aged 12 and up for Florida, Texas, South Carolina, and Virgina-based ships, as well as those visiting Bermuda. The insurance policy must name the unvaccinated guest as the policyholder or beneficiary and may be purchased from a travel insurance company of your choosing or through Carnival Vacation Protection (available for purchase until 14 days prior to sailing). Unvaccinated guests without the required proof of insurance will not be permitted to sail and no refund will be provided.
Norwegian Cruise Lines is updating their protocols beginning with September 3 sailings – vaccinated guests won’t need to test regardless of cruise length, and unvaccinated guests 12 and up can board as long as they present a negative test taken within 72 hours of departure. Those aged 11 and younger will not need to be vaccinated or tested.
Princess will begin welcoming vaccinated guests ages five and up sans test on September 6, for voyages departing from the United States, United Kingdom & Europe. Guests who are not fully vaccinated are welcome to cruise but will need to test within three days of departure, and if the cruise includes a Canadian port, an additional medical exemption will be needed.
Viking still requires all guests to be vaccinated. They recommend but do not require a pre-departure COVID test unless one is required by the destination.
Disney Cruise Lines will only require guests 12 and older to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at the time of sailing for departures from US and Canadian ports, beginning September 2. Guests 11 and younger are not required but are strongly recommended to be fully vaccinated before sailing. All guests will be required to take a pre-departure test.
Virgin Voyages removed their testing requirements for vaccinated sailors in July. It allows up to 10% of unvaccinated sailors on their cruises, as long as 90% of guests are vaccinated, and they are required to have a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours, or at the terminal for a fee of $30 on their embarkation date.
Wave Season Starts...Now!
With all this good news and new-found freedom to make their own rules, cruise lines are feeling both relieved and generous. Those deep discounts typically reserved for wave season – January through March each year – can be found right now. So if you are thinking about booking a cruise for the fall or in 2023, now is the time to take the plunge! Wondering where the best place to take a cruise is? Read about 5 of the top cruise destinations for 2023 and beyond in our latest blog. Once you book that dream cruise, don’t forget to protect yourself and your cruise investment with our award-winning Cruise Travel Insurance.