Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ended its COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships Operating in U.S. Waters, the U.S. doesn’t have any federal requirements for cruise passenger vaccination, testing or masking. But, that doesn’t mean that all such requirements have disappeared. Because COVID and its variants can spread between people in close quarters, including cruise ships, cruise lines have their own requirements and protocols, which continue to evolve.
So, what does this mean for you the next time you cruise?
First, keep in mind that cruise lines’ COVID-related requirements for vaccination, testing, and masking can change at any time in response to COVID developments. And, the CDC still provides COVID management guidance and recommendations to cruise lines.
Regarding vaccination, some cruise lines continue to require all passengers to be fully vaccinated (although some of them make exceptions for children). Some cruise lines accept a limited number of unvaccinated passengers, often with the requirement of a negative COVID test completed shortly before boarding. Others have begun to eliminate vaccination requirements for passengers, except where vaccination is required by ports of call.
As for testing, some cruise lines no longer require pre-cruise COVID test requirements for fully vaccinated passengers, though testing may still be required in order to disembark at certain ports on the itinerary. Some lines now require pre-cruise COVID tests only for longer cruises (often defined as two weeks or more). But most cruise lines still have onboard testing requirements for guests who are exposed to people who have symptoms or test positive for COVID during a cruise.
Many cruise lines have made masks optional for passengers, though they may still encourage masking in indoor common areas. For now, you can expect to see crew members wearing masks as they do their jobs. Cruise lines also continue to follow heightened cleaning and sanitation protocols to help prevent any spread of illness among guests and crew.
Any time you make plans to cruise, it’s important to consider your personal health, especially if you have a higher risk of developing serious illness if you catch COVID or any other virus. Before you make your reservations, check in with your doctor’s office. They can help you ensure you’re prepared to sail and advise on any precautions that you should take while cruising.
Finally, stay connected with Anita, your professional travel advisor, for the latest updates on COVID vaccination, testing, and masking requirements for your favorite cruise lines.
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