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Norwegian Cruise Line drops covid rules for unvaccinated passengers

The cruise line no longer asks customers to test or mask unless a local government mandates it

The Norwegian Pearl sailing in San Miguel de Cozumel, Mexico. (Tramino/Getty Images)

Norwegian Cruise Line announced Monday it is removing the last of its coronavirus rules, allowing unvaccinated passengers to board without testing for the virus or wearing a mask unless otherwise specified by a local government.

While cruise lines all over the world have been gradually easing pandemic-era restrictions, Norwegian gave one day’s notice for the latest shift, which goes into effect Tuesday across the company’s 18-ship fleet.

Competitors including Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise Line still have testing rules in place for unvaccinated passengers.

Mask rules had largely gone away on Norwegian’s trips but were required at times depending on destinations, the cruise line said.

Welcome aboard, unvaccinated cruise passengers

Most recently, Norwegian allowed unvaccinated passengers, but they were required to show proof of a negative test taken no more than three days before boarding if they were 12 or older.

“With the relaxation of travel requirements around the world, we’re thrilled to welcome all guests back on our ships to cruise freely to the places they’ve been dreaming of — regardless of vaccination status and with no testing requirements,” the cruise company says on its website.

In a statement, Norwegian said its guidelines are “now more aligned with other global travel organizations.”

All major cruise lines will soon allow unvaccinated travelers

Norwegian will still follow travel rules required by specific destinations. For example, a company website listing requirements by country shows proof of vaccination or a negative test is still required in places such as Australia and Fiji, but Canada has lifted all covid-related travel restrictions.

“Health and safety are always our first priority; in fact, we were the health and safety leaders from the very start of the pandemic,” Harry Sommer, Norwegian Cruise Line president and chief executive, said in a statement. “Many travelers have been patiently waiting to take their long-awaited vacation at sea and we cannot wait to celebrate their return.”

Cruise lines once had strict vaccination and testing policies as they worked to recover from a shutdown of more than a year.

But after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped its mandatory rules for cruise ships earlier this year — and then ended its covid-19 reporting program for cruise lines in the summer — those policies have relaxed.

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