In preparation for the upcoming Christmas season, several major cruise lines have reverted to pre-pandemic practices by abandoning COVID-19-related testing protocols.
Starting this month, more and more cruise lines are following the industry trend of easing or eliminating pre-boarding requirements linked to COVID-19. This includes Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Virgin Voyages.
This news comes just a few weeks after Norwegian Cruise Line made headlines as one of the first cruise lines to eliminate all testing, vaccination, and mask requirements.
Disney has announced that beginning this month, all guests, regardless of vaccination status, would no longer be required to undergo a COVID-19 screening.
All unvaccinated passengers must now get tested one to two days before boarding.
On 14 November, the regulation will go into effect.
Adults-only cruise line Virgin Voyages also removed all vaccine and testing requirements for all its ships on Oct. 30, according to the company.
The change was made to align with the rest of the tourism industry.
Unvaccinated passengers 12 and older departing from a U.S. or Caribbean port must be tested within three days of embarkation, according to Royal Caribbean, although vaccinated passengers are excluded from testing entirely.
Previously, Royal Caribbean required vaccinated passengers to be tested for cruises of 10 nights or longer and unvaccinated passengers aged 5 and older.
As verification to the board, Royal Caribbean will accept a number of tests, including merely photographing a self-administered home test.
Several other cruise lines have also eased entry requirements, notably MSC Cruises, which has eliminated testing entirely for vaccinated passengers going to the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
Similarly, Carnival has removed both vaccine and testing requirements for all passengers on cruises of 15 nights or less.
When cruise lines first began sailing in a post-pandemic environment, several instituted strict testing and vaccination restrictions in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
However, the CDC formally ended its pandemic-era cruise ship programme this northern summer and now recommends that all passengers be “up to date” on their COVID-19 vaccines before embarking on a cruise.