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This page was last updated on May 3, 2021.
Whether cruise lines require passengers to receive COVID-19 vaccinations prior to boarding is a hot topic. So far, policies for international cruisers have varied, but for North Americans looking to sail closer to home and abroad, several brands have already said that COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory to sail.
Regarding those brands that have yet to announce specifics, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), to which most belong, has indicated that it currently does not have a policy related to vaccines. "The organization and its members are exploring a workable approach for how to consider vaccinations, once widely available, as part of robust protocols,” according to a recent press release.
Be sure to bookmark this page — it will be updated as each line’s polices are made official.
Sister brands American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines were first to indicate that they would be requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for guests. In fact, inoculations will be necessary for all passengers, as well as shipboard crew members and non-shipboard employees.
For the time being, the vaccine requirement is in addition to mandated pre-cruise COVID-19 testing of all guests and crew, and face coverings in all public areas where physical distancing is not possible.
The policy applies to all sailings beginning July 1, 2021.
Azamara has scheduled its return to service from Greece, provided that all guests and crew are vaccinated against COVID-19 no later than 14 days prior to departure.
This mandate is in addition to guidelines stipulated by the Healthy Sail Panel, which will be specifically outlined for clients when bookings open on May 11, 2021.
The policy applies to cruises onboard Azamara Quest beginning on Aug. 28, 2021.
When Celebrity Cruises resumes sailings in the Caribbean, passengers and crew will need to be vaccinated, and cruisers under 18 will be permitted onboard provided they test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of embarkation.
For now, this will coincide with Healthy Sail Panel safety measures as developed by parent company Royal Caribbean Group in partnership with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., which “will evolve in keeping with current public health standards,” according to the line.
The policy applies to cruises onboard Celebrity Millennium departing from St. Maarten starting on June 5, 2021.
Crystal Cruises, which plans to restart sailings in the Caribbean, will also require its passengers to have COVID-19 vaccinations at least 14 days prior to boarding any Crystal ship. Children who are not old enough to receive a vaccine cannot currently be accommodated onboard.
Meanwhile, staff are expected to be vaccinated as well.
“However, this may not be a viable option for all crew members given their age and/or the availability of vaccines in their home countries,” according to the line.
At least to start, vaccinations will be necessary above and beyond the line’s other Crystal Clean+ 4.0 health measures such as COVID-19 testing for both guests and crew, reduced capacity, physical distancing, a nimble mask policy and health screening questionnaires.
The policy applies to all Crystal cruises, beginning onboard Crystal Serenity on July 3, 2021.
While MSC Cruises does not currently require guests to be vaccinated prior to boarding, the line is rolling out a fleet-wide COVID-19 vaccination program for its entire crew.
"The plan is for all of MSC Cruises’ crew onboard operational vessels, as well as ships preparing to restart in parts of the world the company has served traditionally, to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” read a press release. "It has been developed and will be delivered with the support of a number of national government authorities, destinations and private sector entities.”
MSC will prioritize the 10 ships slated to sail during summer 2021 in Europe, plus those vessels set to eventually restart from the U.S.
Passengers who are 16 years old and older traveling with Lindblad Expeditions will be required to be vaccinated prior to sailing. Other health protocols include two
negative COVID-19 tests prior to boarding, daily guest temperature checks and
thorough sanitation procedures
“Led by our resident medical expert, Dr. David Lorber, we have enlisted the assistance of many health and safety experts and met with authorities in the regions we intend to explore to ensure we are welcome and meet or exceed their expectations," said Sven Lindblad, CEO of Lindblad Expeditions, in a statement.
Consistent with its sister brands — Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises — Norwegian Cruise Line plans to resume sailings from U.S. ports on or about July 4, 2021, with all guests and crew vaccinated against COVID-19. Proof of full FDA-, EMA- or WHO-approved protection will be required no less than two weeks prior to embarkation. As inoculations are currently not approved for children, kids will not be permitted to sail (at least initially).
For the time being, Norwegian will implement its SailSAFE health and safety program, which includes COVID-19 testing, physical distancing, reduced capacity and face coverings.
“With vaccine mandates and strict health and safety protocols in place, we believe we can provide a uniquely safe and healthy vacation experience,” said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
The policy applies to all Norwegian cruises, beginning on or about July 4, 2021, through Oct. 31, 2021, when the line will reevaluate protocols based upon the current science.
On April 28, Ponant updated its health protocols to require vaccinations for all guests and crew. The requirement specifies that all passengers over the age of 16 must be inoculated against COVID-19 prior to sailing, and must show proof of a negative PCR test conducted within 72 hours before boarding.
These measures are in addition to the company’s “double protection” principle, which further includes screenings and enhanced sanitary standards including social distancing and the use of face coverings.
The policy applies to Ponant’s eventual return to sailing.
Riviera River Cruises is the first European river cruise line to indicate that it will be requiring COVID-19 vaccinations, but not entirely. Guests will need to be inoculated or have tested negative for the coronavirus before boarding. Complimentary tests will be available to passengers who are not vaccinated. The same requirements apply to crew members, who will be health screened on an ongoing basis.
Guests will need to have had all doses of a COVID-19 vaccine at least seven days prior to departure.
Additional measures will include passenger health screening, daily temperature checks, physical distancing in public areas and potentially face coverings when moving about ships or on excursions.
“As we eagerly await our return to Europe’s rivers, we’ve decided to require full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before departure to increase safety,” said Marilyn Conroy, executive vice president of sales and marketing North America, in a press release. “This new requirement, combined with our comprehensive customer care policies and health and safety protocols that will be in place aboard our ships, will allow guests to travel with us with confidence.”
The policy applies to Riviera sailings once they resume, but no specific date has yet been given.
Royal Caribbean International’s regional return will include a vaccine requirement for guests, onboard crew and employees at its Perfect Day at CocoCay private island. Children will also be permitted on trips so long as they test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of embarkation.
Additional safety measures are expected to evolve over time, according to the line, but in the near future, Healthy Sail Panel standards as developed by Royal Caribbean Group in collaboration with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. will also be implemented.
The policy applies to cruises onboard Adventure of the Seas departing from Nassau, the Bahamas, starting on June 12, 2021, as well as those on Vision of the Seas leaving Bermuda beginning on June 26, 2021.
When Seabourn Cruise Line restarts operations this year in Barbados and Greece, the luxury brand will require guests to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, having received the final dose at least 14 days before boarding. Proof of inoculation and dates administered will be required.
"Beyond these voyages, we are consistently reviewing the various vaccines and conferring with the various countries we sail to and the associated health authorities,” said Steve Smotrys, vice president of sales for Seabourn. "Beyond Greece, we have not made any decisions on next steps at this point. We will share more information when we have more updates.”
At least for now, vaccine requirements will be in addition to the line’s other Travel Safe protocols, including health screening questionnaires, required face coverings, physical distancing and limited capacities.
The policy applies to Seabourn’s Greece sailings, beginning on July 3, 2021, and to Barbados, starting on July 18, 2021.
Silversea Cruises will require COVID-19 vaccinations for its guests and crew starting in Greece (onboard the new Silver Moon). This requirement will then apply to all worldwide voyages, except those departing from Australia, where protocols are still under evaluation.
As part of Royal Caribbean Group’s Healthy Sail Panel, further measures extend to coronavirus testing, mask wearing at certain times and physical distancing.
"Silversea will continue to work closely with relevant governing bodies and health authorities to evolve its health and safety procedures, as new health recommendations are issued and as the fluid situation advances,” according to the line.
The policy applies to all Silversea sailings, save for Australian departures, starting on June 18, 2021.
Looking to return to Alaska and its other destinations, UnCruise Adventures now requires guests and crew to be vaccinated, with the exception of those under 18. Negative pre-cruise testing is still required of all passengers within four days of boarding.
At this time, the line continues to emphasize the need to wash hands, wear a mask and physically distance. Face coverings will not be required when eating or drinking, while in private cabins, or on deck and during activities provided physical distancing is observed.
“If the federal government eases mask requirements for vaccinated cruises, we will act accordingly,” reads the line’s current health and safety measures.
The policy applies to all UnCruise Adventures sailings (except those in the Galapagos where crew vaccinations are currently harder to come by) effective immediately.
As it continues to launch its “Welcome Back” ocean voyages, Viking will require COVID-19 vaccinations for guests, plus PCR testing via shipboard labs. Further health and safety measures will include physical distancing, and face masks may be required for all guests and crew while onboard, “depending on conditions at time of sailing,” according to the line.
“We applaud the governments of the United Kingdom, Bermuda and Iceland for their collaboration and support in restarting the cruise industry safely,” said Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking, in a press release. “No other travel company has implemented the same science-led approach that includes a vaccination requirement for all guests, plus frequent non-invasive saliva PCR testing among all guests and crew. Therefore, we believe there will be no safer way to travel the world than on a Viking voyage. We look forward to welcoming guests back on board—and welcoming them back to the world.”
This policy applies to Bermuda and Iceland sailings beginning in June 2021.
Virgin Voyages will require vaccines onboard its adults-only ship, Scarlet Lady, when it embarks on its long-delayed maiden cruise in the Caribbean. According to Tom McAlpin, president and CEO of the cruise line, the rule will apply to both passengers and crew.
This requirement is in addition to testing everyone for COVID-19, as well as the line’s other Voyage Well protocols such as physical distancing and mask wearing until recommendations change.
The policy applies to Scarlet Lady’s inaugural voyages.
On March 30, 2021, Windstar Cruises announced that it will require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine for all passengers sailing on the line's yachts, beginning with its phased return to operations in June 2021. Guests will be required to provide proof of the vaccination (finished within two weeks of the embarkation date) before boarding. Negative COVID-19 test results will also be required.
“Vaccination is another layer of safety for all of us, and it’s the responsible course of action as our yachts resume cruising and our guests travel the world,” said Christopher Prelog, president of Windstar Cruises, in a press release.
Crew members will be required to be vaccinated as soon as a vaccine is made available to them, and the company will routinely review the policy as the pandemic evolves.