TORONTO — After more than a year’s pause, the cruise industry is finally gaining some momentum with a growing number of cruise lines announcing their resumption of operations this summer.
Major cruise companies like Holland America, NCL, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Crystal Cruises have all announced their return-to-service in the coming months with cruises departing from non-U.S. ports. And though Canada’s cruise ship ban will remain in effect until Feb. 28, 2022, the CDC hinted just last week that cruise ships could possibly return to U.S. waters as early as mid-July, on the condition they meet certain requirements.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccination will be “critical” in the safe resumption of passenger operations. As such, it is recommending that “all eligible port personnel and travellers (passengers and crew) get a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available to them.”
Britain-based Saga Cruises was the first to announce a vaccination requirement back in late January, with American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines following suit soon after. In mid-February, Crystal was the first major cruise line to mandate vaccination for all guests and since then, most major cruise companies have also come forward with a similar requirement. Now, with cruises set to resume, proof of vaccination against COVID-19 has become the new normal for the cruise industry.
Here are the cruise lines that now require proof of vaccination from guests. For the most up-to-date protocols, please go to each individual cruise line’s website.
AMERICAN QUEEN STEAMBOAT COMPANY
COVID-19 vaccination is required for all guests and crew, for all sailings beginning July 1, 2021, as well as for American Empress guests and crew beginning June 14, 2021. In addition, guests must check-in at the pre-cruise hotel stay on the day before embarkation, at which time they will complete a health questionnaire and take a COVID-19 test.
Celebrity will be one of the first lines to offer fully vaccinated sailings, where guests age 18 and over will be vaccinated against COVID-19. The company is set to resume operations with the Celebrity Millennium sailing seven-night itineraries in the Caribbean starting June 5.
Guests must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with both doses if recommended by the manufacturer, at least 14 days prior to boarding any Crystal ship. Guests must also provide proof of vaccination before embarkation. Crystal expects all crew to be vaccinated as well, however, it acknowledges that this may not be a viable option for all crew members given their age and/or availability of vaccines in their home countries. As such, crew members are required to be tested for COVID-19 prior to leaving their home location to join the ship and must receive a negative result, as well as take a COVID-19 test at embarkation, quarantine for seven days upon arrival and take another test at the end of their quarantine period.
Cunard’s initial cruises will depart Oct. 1, 2021 for only U.K. residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. For these voyages the definition of ‘vaccinated’ is a minimum of seven days following the second dose of currently approved COVID-19 vaccines. Proof of vaccination and dates will be required prior to boarding.
All other voyages currently on sail do not require guests to be vaccinated at this time. These include voyages departing on Queen Elizabeth on or after Oct. 2, on Queen Mary 2 on or after Nov. 13, and on Queen Victoria on or after Aug. 28. Pre-embarkation COVID-19 tests may be required as part of Cunard’s protocols and will be included in the price of the vacation.
HOLLAND AMERICA LINE
Holland America will be resuming sailing operations from Athens this August aboard the Eurodam for guests who have received their final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise. Proof of vaccination will also be required.
Guests 16 years of age and older must present proof of COVID-19 vaccination, as well as a negative COVID-19 test result prior to embarkation. They will also receive a second rapid antigen COVID-19, administered by staff, prior to boarding, undergo a temperature and symptom check at embarkation, and complete two health questionnaires, one prior to leaving home and another before boarding.
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
NCL’s ‘Sail Safe Health & Safety Program’ includes mandatory vaccination requirements for all guests and crew on all sailings through Oct. 31, 2021. NCL is scheduled to restart sailings on Norwegian Jade, Joy and Gem out of the Mediterranean and the Caribbean starting July 25, 2021.
All guests and crew must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to embarkation in order to board. All guests will also be required to take a COVID-19 antigen test, administered and paid for by Oceania, prior to boarding and receive a negative result. They’ll also take a second antigen test prior to disembarkation.
All passengers and crew over 16 years of age must be vaccinated before the cruise and show proof of a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours of boarding the ship. In addition, as part of PONANT’s ‘Covid-Safe’ protocols, a health questionnaire must be completed by a personal doctor, a vaccination certificate must be sent, a PCR test must be done and a second medical questionnaire must be completed, all prior to boarding.
Princess’s ‘Summer Seacation’ voyages on Regal and Sky Princess are only available to fully-vaccinated U.K. guests. For these cruises the definition of ‘vaccinated’ is a minimum of seven days following the second dose of currently approved COVID-19 vaccines. Proof of vaccination and dates will be required. All other Princess Cruises holidays currently on sale do not require guests to be vaccinated.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL
At this time, guests 18 years of age and older sailing from Bermuda or The Bahamas must provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, completed two weeks prior to sailing. Guests may also need to provide a negative RT-PCR test result to enter these countries. A health questionnaire must also be completed within 24 hours prior to sailing. Booked guests will be provided full details before their cruise.
REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES
All guests and crew must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to embarkation in order to board. All guests will also be required to take a COVID-19 antigen test, administered and paid for by the cruise line, prior to boarding and receive a negative result. A second COVID-19 antigen test will be administered prior to disembarkation.
Seabourn’s Greece and Caribbean voyages this summer, which are now open for booking, are only available for guests who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Guests must also complete their pre-boarding health questionnaire and a PCR COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours prior to departure. Guests can also expect another COVID-19 test during the embarkation procedure.
Starting June 18, all embarking crew and guests will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to embarking on any Silversea cruise, with the exception of sailings departing from Australia. All crew and guests will also be required to take a COVID-19 test prior to boarding with only those who test negative permitted to board.
All adult guests and crew must be fully vaccinated prior to boarding, excluding Galapagos. ‘Fully vaccinated’ means 14 days after a final COVID-19 vaccine shot. A negative pre-cruise molecular test is also required for all guests two years of age and older within the four days leading up to boarding.
All guests will need to provide proof of one of the following upon embarkation:
- Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination with the final dose given at least 14 days prior to the start of the cruise
- A verifiable and negative result of a PCR test taken within 72 hours of the start of the cruise
- A verifiable and negative result of a rapid antigen test taken within 72 hours of the start of their cruise
VICTORY CRUISE LINES
COVID-19 vaccination is required for all guests and crew for all sailings beginning July 1, 2021. Guests must also check in at the pre-cruise hotel stay on the day before embarkation and complete a health questionnaire and take a COVID-19 test prior to boarding.
Proof of a current COVID-19 vaccination will be required for all guests sailing aboard Windstar’s yachts. Proof includes the original vaccination record document issued by either the country’s health authority that administered the vaccination, or the guest’s medical provider that administered the vaccination. At the cruise terminal, guests will be required to provide proof of a completed current vaccine course (one or two shots, depending on the brand) finished at least 14 days prior to the embarkation date.
A COVID-19 PCR test is not required at the pier. Windstar will, however, require and administer a free COVID-19 antigen test at the pier prior to boarding, with only those testing negative allowed to board.