Is Cruise Travel Safe Again? Online Resources for Cruise Lines’ COVID Policies
If you enjoy sailing the seas on a cruise ship, the last few years with strict COVID policies have surely dampened, and at times halted your cruising experiences. As we round the corner into a new year, you may wonder when it will be safe to cruise again. Like the rest of the world, we too, are eager to get back to enjoying things like taking cruises.
Like all things related to COVID and travel, news changes all the time. To show you how fast things change, from the time we assigned this article to our writer to the time it’s been published, Canada announced that it would be doing away with COVID-19 border restrictions starting Oct. 1, 2022.
Because countries and travel companies are changing their safe health policies all the time, please click the links and check the cruise lines’ most up-to-date policies.
US CDC’s Guidelines for Cruises
The CDC stopped monitoring the COVID protocols for cruise lines in the U.S., on July 18, 2022. As a result, individual cruise lines have been able to create their own policies, although the CDC will continue to help guide cruise ships to provide a safe and healthy environment for crew, passengers and those in regions they service. In addition to recommending that you check with individual cruise lines for their policies, the CDC offers some guidance for travelers.
Do not board a cruise ship (or travel) if you’re sick with COVID, tested positive within the last 10 days, or have had close contact with someone who has COVID in the past five days. Other pre-travel guidance includes:
- Ensure you’re up-to-date on your COVID vaccines if your destination still requires them
- Check airline and cruise line requirements such as proof of vaccination, pre-embarkation testing, or other documents
Once aboard a cruise ship, the CDC recommends you wash your hands routinely or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. This is a good idea anyway, COVID or no COVID!
Follow the ship mask protocol and if you develop COVID symptoms, remain in your cabin and notify the ship’s medical team. Upon arriving home, you should self-check for COVID symptoms and get tested 3 to 5 days after your trip, regardless of whether you’re symptomatic.
Canada’s Guidelines for Cruises
Canada has a set of requirements for those wanting to go on a cruise. Until Oct. 1, 2022, with only a few exceptions, anyone over the age of 12 was required to be fully vaccinated against COVID. Some cruise lines required children as young as 5 to have vaccinations. As of Oct. 1, 2022, Canada ended the requirements. However, you should check Canada’s travel requirements page for the latest info.
Anyone entering Canada by land or air can still use the ArriveCAN tool, but as of Oct. 1, 2022, they will no longer be required to within 72 hours of boarding your flight or entering the country by land.
What Cruise Lines Are Saying About COVID
Several cruise lines have eliminated mandatory vaccines and testing. While this allows more people to take a cruise, individual cruise lines have their own COVID regulations that passengers must follow.
Carnival’s Protocols for Cruises
The Carnival cruise vaccine policy requires anyone 5 years old or older who is fully vaccinated against COVID to provide proof prior to embarkation. Passengers age 5 years or older who are not vaccinated, must provide a negative PCR or antigen test within three days of cruise departure.
All guests must complete an online check-in and choose an arrival appointment. However, the cruise line suggests passengers download the VeriFly app to submit their health information, including vaccination status.
They recommend guests wear face masks when indoors, and cruises 16 nights or longer may require masks indoors. Carnival recommends practicing social distancing and handwashing. For further information, visit Carnival.com.
All travelers, regardless of COVID vaccination status, can sail with Celebrity Cruises, as of Sept. 5, 2022. Passengers may be able to submit a self-test for sailing from the U.S.; however, they may have different requirements, depending on the rules of the countries they visit. Celebrity has a Healthy At Sea online resource that helps travelers understand the latest requirements based on country of origin, as well as countries to be visited.
Disney Cruise Line
As of publication date (Sept. 26, 2022), Disney required all passengers 12 years of age or older to be fully vaccinated against COVID. Kids ages 11 and under, Disney Cruise recommends being fully vaccinated prior to sailing. No testing is required for fully vaccinated passengers, but a test may be required 1 to 3 days prior to boarding for unvaccinated guests. Passengers 18 years of age or older must create an account on the Safe Passage website and upload documentation that includes proof of vaccination. Guest must complete an online check-in and health questionnaire. Face coverings may be optional while on board. You can view updated requirements at the Disney Cruise line website.
Holland America Line
Only fully vaccinated guests can sail with Holland America Line, as of Sept. 26, 2022 (last updated on Holland’s site Feb. 18, 2022). You must receive your final vaccine within 14 days of sailing. Guests must present proof of vaccination or digital COVID certificate, record of vaccination from your healthcare provider, government immunization information system record, or an electronic personal health record. Fully vaccinated guests must test within 3 days of boarding. Passengers must complete an online health questionnaire using the Navigator app within 72 to 24 hours before boarding, in addition to pre-embarkation health screening. You can find further information at HollandAmerica.com.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Regardless of vaccination status, all guests may sail with Norwegian Cruise Line. Unvaccinated guests ages 12 and older must show proof at the terminal of a negative PCR or antigen test performed no later than 72 hours before embarkation. No proof is required for passengers under 11 years of age. Masks are optional. Get the latest COVID NCL guidelines (updated Sept. 3, 2022) at NCL.com.
Vaccinated guests on most Princess Cruises do not need to test for COVID. Unvaccinated guests, or those who don’t show proof of vaccination, must upload a negative self-test via the MedallionClass app within 3 days of sailing. All guests must complete an online health questionnaire via the MedallionClass app within 24 of sailing and verify your information during a pre-embarkation in the terminal. Some Princess cruises have their own vaccination and testing requirements, which they refer to as Enhanced Guidelines voyages.
Royal Caribbean International
The Royal Caribbean vaccine policy requires all guests 12 years of age or older be fully vaccinated against COVID (as of Sept. 26, 2022). The final dose must be a minimum of 14 days prior to boarding. Guests must present proof of vaccination via the Royal Caribbean app, online at RoyalCaribbean.com, or at the terminal. This cruise line does not require children under the age of 11 to be vaccinated. For more information on COVID guidelines, visit RoyalCaribbean.com.
Regardless of vaccination status, passengers may sail on the Valiant Lady or Scarlet Lady cruise ships. Virgin Voyages requires unvaccinated travelers to provide proof of a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of boarding, or pay $75 and get tested at the terminal on their embarkation date. All passengers must fill out a health check form via the Virgin Voyages Sailor app within 24 hours of sailing. You can view additional guidelines at VirginVoyages.com.
Is It Safe To Travel Now?
Policies are continuing to change, and safe travel depends on where you are going, where you’re departing from, and how you’re traveling.
Travelers departing from the United States should check with the U.S. Department of State’s website for the latest rules for coming into and traveling out of the U.S.
If you are flying, check with your airline, as well as the airports that you’ll be traveling through.
If you are sailing, check with your cruise lines, as well as the ports of authority through which your cruise travels.