Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruises are among those changing COVID-19 testing requirement policies following the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s official end of its COVID-19 orientation program. 19.
Carnival announced Friday that it will no longer require pre-cruise testing for those who have been vaccinated on its sailings of five days or less beginning Aug. 4. It will still require pre-cruise testing for sailings of six nights or more, but can be completed within three days of sailing.
The line will no longer provide terminal testing for unvaccinated customers on the day of departure, and all such customers aged 2 and over must provide proof of a negative result for a lab-administered or supervised self-administered COVID antigen . test, also within three days prior to boarding.
“Further changes will be announced shortly and all changes are subject to all destination requirements on the itinerary,” the line said in a press release. “We remain, as always, committed to the health and safety of our guests, our crew and the communities we serve.”
Royal Caribbean is taking a similar approach to Carnival with the removal of pre-cruise testing for vaccinated guests on sailings of five nights or less starting August 8.
“We are currently developing updated protocols that ensure the continued safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit, better align with the travel and hospitality industry and comply with destination regulations,” said said a statement on Royal Caribbean’s website. “It means we’re getting to the point where everyone can vacation with us.”
The CDC’s cruise guidance program was shut down on July 18, including the color-coded program that determined what level COVID-19 was present on ships. In its FAQ section, the CDC said travelers concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak should contact individual cruise lines, though companies will continue to report cases to the CDC.
Virgin Voyages was among the first lines to respond to the CDC’s loosening of COVID-19 cruise reports, announcing it was scrapping all pre-boarding testing requirements starting July 21, saying in a press release that ‘It will “mirror the rest of the travel industry by removing pre-boarding testing for departures from July 24 on EU departures and from July 27 on US departures.
It said it would maintain its vaccine requirements for Scarlet Lady sailing from Miami and Valiant Lady sailing in Europe.
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The change also opens the door for unvaccinated passengers to sail on Virgin, although US sailings still do not adhere to more than 10% of unvaccinated passengers.
Norwegian Cruise Line has also removed pre-cruise testing requirements for European Union sailings, but they remain in place for sailings from the United States, Canada and Greece.
Disney Cruise Line and MSC Cruises still have pre-board testing and vaccination requirements in place.
Despite the relaxation of testing requirements, the spread of the latest variant of COVID-19 has increased and remains a risk for those who travel.
The CDC still states that “cruise ships are densely populated gathering places where respiratory viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), can spread easily among travelers (passengers and crew) on board”.
The industry was shut down for almost a year and a half after the pandemic exploded in March 2020, with several outbreaks centered on cruise ships. The industry has worked with the CDC to develop dozens of safety measures in an effort to get cruise lines back up and running and emerging from a CDC no-sail order.
The first ships began sailing from the United States in the summer of 2021, and cruise lines have only recently recommissioned most of their fleets, having slowly put more and more ships into service. on line.