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More cruise lines are dropping vaccine requirements

Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruises are the latest to relax coronavirus protocols

(iStock/Washington Post Illustration)

Three giant cruise companies are dropping vaccine requirements for some ships, following a wave of recent moves to ease pandemic-era restrictions that precluded some travelers from boarding.

Sister cruise lines Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises said on their websites that as of Sept. 5, everyone “regardless of vaccination status” would be able to sail on specific cruises as long as they met testing requirements.

For Celebrity, that means cruises leaving from Los Angeles, the United Kingdom and Europe (except for Iceland). Royal Caribbean cruises that don’t require vaccination include sailings that leave from European ports, Los Angeles, Galveston, Tex. and New Orleans.

Bahamas and Caribbean cruises that leave from Florida ports — the busiest in the world — still have vaccine rules in place.

Carnival Cruise also announced Friday that unvaccinated guests are welcome on board starting Sept. 6, though they will still need to provide a negative coronavirus test result taken three days before sailing. Proof of vaccination will remain required for cruises to Australia and voyages longer than 16 nights.

Vaccinated guests will no longer need to test, Carnival said, with the exception of sailings to Canada, Bermuda, Greece and Australia, per local guidelines, and on cruises longer than 16 nights.

Norwegian cruises to drop vaccination requirement, ease testing rules

The updates late this week follow an announcement Monday by Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises that unvaccinated passengers would be allowed on many cruises as of Sept. 3. The operators, all part of the same parent company, also eased testing requirements for vaccinated passengers.

In recent weeks, Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Silversea Cruises said fully vaccinated travelers would need to show only proof of negative tests for cruises six nights or longer.

The new policies came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ended its covid-19 cruise program. At the time the program ended last month, nearly every ship that reported data to the CDC was under observation for coronavirus cases.

New Zealand welcomes back first cruise ship since covid hit

Thursday, the public health agency loosened its broad coronavirus recommendations even more. The revised guidance no longer advises screening or testing in most settings for people without symptoms or known exposure.

Cruise companies — which touted their strict health protocols earlier in the pandemic — have said that they expect to ease more of their restrictions in the coming days.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners around the world to develop updated protocols that provide for the continued safety of our guests and the communities we visit, better align with the travel and hospitality sector, and meet destination regulations,” Royal Caribbean said in a statement last month. “This means we’re transitioning to the point where everyone will be able to vacation with us.”