Updated: Cruise lines relax testing and vaccination rules - Cruise International

Updated: Cruise lines relax testing and vaccination rules

By Katie McGonagle | 22 Aug 2022

Couple on deck in the Caribbean

Couple on deck in the Caribbean. Picture: Cunard

Cruise lines including Royal Caribbean, Cunard and P&O Cruises have simplified strict Covid-19 protocols as travel rules ease worldwide

 

Royal Caribbean International, P&O Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line and Seabourn are among the latest cruise lines to relax the Covid-19 protocols brought in during the pandemic.

The changes for the Carnival-owned lines apply to voyages of up to 15 nights, departing on or after September 6, 2022, though some restrictions remain on longer or more-complex itineraries and for countries including Canada, Australia, Greece and New Zealand where different requirements are in place.

For sister brands Holland America Line and Seabourn, vaccinated guests will no longer have to show a negative Covid-19 test before embarkation; those who are unvaccinated will be able to cruise if they can provide a negative self-test taken within three days of the sailing.

For voyages of 16 nights or longer, guests will still need to show proof of vaccination (or exemption) and have a medically supervised Covid-19 test within three days of embarkation.

“Our guests have been excited to return to cruising, and these changes will make it easier for more guests to explore the world in a safe and enjoyable environment,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line.

“The new, simplified protocols recognize the evolving nature of Covid-19 while still ensuring we protect the health of our guests, team members and the communities we visit.”

P&O Cruises and Cunard, which are also owned by parent company the Carnival Corporation, have announced a similar scaling back of testing rules across most voyages under 16 nights in duration.

Self-testing before embarking on a cruise will go from “mandatory” to “highly recommended” for vaccinated guests. Those sailing on longer and more complex trips will still need to have an in-person antigen or PCR test and show proof of a fit to travel certificate before getting on board.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “These updated protocols reflect the current environment across the world and while certain key elements have relaxed, our commitment to protect the health and wellbeing of all guests, crew and the communities we visit remains an ongoing and vital consideration.

“They also ensure that the ease of cruising remains at the fore and that all guests of all ages can enjoy a holiday with unrivalled dining, relaxation and exploration options and unmatched service levels at extraordinary value for money.”

Cruise giant Royal Caribbean International has also updated its Covid-19 protocols. For sailings of nine nights or less, vaccinated guests can cruise without the need for a test, while those who are unvaccinated can board the ship but will need to show a negative test result, including one from a self-administered test.

The rules are different on sailings of 10 nights or more, when all guests – both vaccinated and unvaccinated – will need to provide a negative test taken within three days of embarkation. Children aged five and under are exempt from the requirement and can board the ship without any need for proof of a vaccine or a test.

Exact rules vary depending on local regulations, with sailings to or from Australia, Bermuda, Canada and Singapore still requiring guests to be vaccinated.

Windstar Cruises has also dropped the need for pre-cruise Covid-19 tests, other than where it is required by the country the ship is visiting. Guests (and crew) will still need to show proof of vaccination, with changes taking effect from September 6.

Small-ship line Azamara had also previously announced the removal of pre-embarkation testing, which took effect from July 25, as part of a “return to normalcy for the travel and cruising industry”, according to the line’s president, Carol Cabezas.

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