The cruise line industry has certainly been put through the wringer since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carriers have had to completely transform their operating procedures to follow international health and safety guidelines, including requiring passengers to be vaccinated, test negative for the virus before boarding, or both. With a few major cruise lines out there, you might be wondering which one has COVID policies that work for you. We’ve done the heavy lifting and are bringing you an overview of the COVID-19 policies for each major cruise line!
When it comes to choosing which cruise line you’re going to sail with, there are even more factors to consider these days than what we’ve seen in the past. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have ended their COVID-19 cruise monitoring program, effectively eliminating any sort of vaccination or testing requirement. It’s up to each cruise line to make that call, so we’re sharing an overview of each major cruise line’s COVID-19 vaccination and testing policies.
Disney Cruise Line
Let’s start with the Disney Cruise Line since it’s the one we have recent personal experience with! We were on the first sailing of Disney’s newest ship — the Wish — and got to go through the COVID-19 testing process ourselves. The current Disney Cruise Line COVID-19 policy states that all vaccine-eligible guests (ages 5 and older) must be fully vaccinated before boarding a Disney cruise ship, and all guests (regardless of vaccination status) must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test at the cruise terminal.
You can take a test at home before heading to the terminal, but Disney also has a testing site there as well. Either way, you’ll have to pay for the test. If you choose to test at home, once you have your negative COVID-19 test result, you must upload it to your Safe Passage account by midnight before embarkation day.
Safe Passage is a website where guests can upload proof of vaccination, and all guests who are vaccine eligible will have to upload their results.
Beginning on September 2nd, Disney Cruise Line will only be requiring all guests ages 12 and older to be fully vaccinated at the time of sailing. You can look at the specific requirements for sailing directly from the Disney Cruise Line website below.
COVID-19 testing is still required in order to board a Disney Cruise shop. Fully vaccinated guests must show proof of a negative test 1-2 days in order to be exempt from embarkation day testing. Guests who are not fully vaccinated have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test that is taken 1 to 3 days before the sail date. There is then a second COVID-19 test done on embarkation day.
If you’re thinking about heading out on a Carnival Cruise, there are some health and safety guidelines you’ll still have to follow in order to set sail. Vaccinated guests are not required to take a COVID-19 test prior to boarding on cruises that are five days or less. It will still require pre-cruise testing for sailings that are longer than six nights, but this can be done within three days of departure.
Carnival is no longer providing any testing at the terminal for unvaccinated guests, and all of those unvaccinated guests ages 2 and older must provide proof of a negative result for either a lab-administered or supervised self-administered antigen COVID test within three days of boarding.
Additionally, guests must present an original vaccination record issued by the country’s health authority (i.e., U.S. CDC’s Vaccination Record Card). A digital COVID-19 Certificate, a record of COVID-19 vaccination from a healthcare provider, and a personal electronic health record or government Immunization Information System record are also acceptable. They must be the original documents though, as copies will not be accepted.
Beginning on September 6th, Carnival is no longer requiring testing for vaccinated guests for cruises that are less than 16 nights. If the cruise is 16 nights or more or will make stops in Canada, Bermuda, Greece, or Australia, then all guests need to be tested prior to boarding. Guests from the United States under the age of five are exempt from vaccination and testing requirements.
For any Royal Caribbean cruise, you might have in your future, you should note that all Royal Caribbean guests age 12 and older must present proof of full COVID-19 vaccination with the final dose administered at least 14 days before sailing. Kids ages 11 and under do not need to be vaccinated to cruise.
But, Royal Caribbean has just updated its policy and will no longer require vaccinated guests to be tested for COVID-19 before boarding cruises that are less than 6 nights. The cruise line will require tests for unvaccinated guests ages 5 and up on all voyages, and for vaccinated guests on voyages 10 nights or longer on cruises that are departing from the United States and not visiting Canada or Bermuda. This policy will go into effect beginning September 5th, 2022.
Also beginning on September 5th, Royal Caribbean will start accepting self-administered, at-home COVID-19 tests. And for cruises that are heading to Europe (not including Greece), vaccinated guests are not required to test on cruises less than 10 nights, while unvaccinated guests 12 years and older will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of cruising.
Norwegian Cruise Line is still requiring that all guests age twelve and over must be fully vaccinated at least 2 weeks prior to departure in order to board. According to the cruise line, it is the responsibility of the guest to be aware of any local protocols and/or travel restrictions in place at the visiting destinations at the time of sailing.
Additionally, all vaccinated guests ages 12 and older, must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen or PCR test taken within 2 days of the embarkation date for cruises originating in a U.S. or Canadian port and within 3 days of the embarkation date for cruises originating from any other ports.
It’s also important to note that individuals that test positive within 90 days of their scheduled embarkation date are exempted from the pre-arrival testing, but will need to provide a COVID-19 Recovery document from a licensed healthcare provider.
As of September 3rd, Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Oceania Cruises (the latter two a part of the Norwegian Cruise Line family) are dropping their COVID-19 vaccination requirements. However, unvaccinated guests 12 years old and older will still need to show proof of a medically supervised negative COVID-19 test before sailing.
Also as of September 3rd, guests under 11 years old will not be subject to any vaccination requirements or testing protocols. Guests onboard the ship still must meet the vaccination requirements and testing policies of the destinations they visit while on board the ship.
Virgin Voyages was the first major cruise line to remove its COVID-19 testing requirements following the CDC’s termination of the cruise program. It was announced that Virgin Voyages would be removing the requirement that passengers submit a COVID-19 test before boarding.
It’s important to note, though, that Virgin requires 90% of sailors on their cruises to be fully vaccinated, though there are a limited number of spots reserved for unvaccinated guests. Unlike Royal Caribbean’s new policy, Virgin Voyages will not require unvaccinated guests to take a COVID-19 test before boarding.
Keep in mind that this information is subject to change, and chances are checking your respective cruise line’s website will have the most accurate and up-to-date information. We’re always looking out for the latest travel news that could impact your plans, so be sure to stay tuned to DFB for more!
Thinking about booking a Disney cruise? The itineraries have been announced for 2023, and you can read more about that here. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live on a cruise ship for six months, we’ve got all that info for you right here too!
Have you been on a cruise since the pandemic started? Let us know in the comments!