Three major cruise lines have announced they will accept self-administered COVID-19 tests in many cases where requirements remain.
Carnival Cruise Line said the line will accept self-administered tests in addition to lab-administered tests from unvaccinated guests on voyages that are 15 nights or shorter beginning Sept. 6, according to a news release.
Some destinations, however, including Bermuda and Canada, require self-tests to be medically supervised.
Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises also announced a similar change. Royal Caribbean will allow guests on US cruises to take a home test or one “professionally administered by a health professional” as of Sept. 5 according to its website, as will Celebrity, starting on the same date. Those changes are also subject to local restrictions.
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The changes come as the lines have dropped vaccine requirements and rolled back testing rules for many voyages after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ended its COVID-19 cruise ship program.
Major cruise lines have dropped vaccine requirements
Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity announced this month that they would welcome all passengers regardless of vaccination status on many sailings. Other major cruise lines have made similar announcements, including Holland America Line and Princess Cruises.
Some exceptions apply, so passengers should check their cruise line’s policy. Carnival, for example, will allow unvaccinated passengers to board without a vaccine exemption – which are currently “limited to a small number of guests (age five and above),” according to its website – starting Sept. 6. But that does not include sailings 16 nights or longer, and the change is subject to local rules.
Major cruise lines have also dropped testing rules for vaccinated passengers, but testing is still required in a number of cases.
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When are cruise lines still requiring testing?
► Carnival Cruise Line will require pre-cruise testing for vaccinated passengers only on trips 16 nights or longer or where local rules mandate it, such as on sailings to Canada and Bermuda, starting on Sept. 6, according to a press release.
Passengers who are unvaccinated or do not show proof of vaccination will still need to “present the results of a negative PCR or antigen test taken within three days of embarkation.” Those under 5 years old are exempt from vaccine and testing requirements in the US
► Royal Caribbean will require vaccinated guests 5 and up to take a pre-cruise test on US sailings 10 nights or longer within three days of boarding beginning Sept. 5, according to its website. Unvaccinated guests 5 and older must take a test within three days of their trip on all sailings. The changes are subject to local rules.
► Celebrity Cruises will only require vaccinated passengers to test on voyages that are 10 nights or longer within three days of sailing as of Sept. 5, according to its website, where local rules permit. Unvaccinated travelers age 5 and older must take a test within three days before boarding for US sailings.
► Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. will drop all pre-cruise requirements for vaccinated passengers ages 12 and over as of Sept. 3, according to a news release.
Guests ages 12 and older who are unvaccinated or do not show proof of vaccination will still need to test within 72 hours before boarding. The company said it “continues to strongly recommend all guests be up to date on vaccination protocols and test at their convenience prior to travel.” Changes are subject to local requirements.
► On sailings from the US, MSC Cruises requires tests for fully vaccinated passengers sailing on trips six nights or longer and for all unvaccinated passengers age 2 or older, regardless of trip length, according to a press release. Tests must be taken within three days of embarkation. The cruise line recommends guests test within one day of the trip when possible.
► Princess Cruises will require passengers sailing on trips 16 nights or longer to “take a supervised test within three days of embarkation (guests 5 and older),” starting Sept. 6, as well as those on full Panama Canal transits and certain other voyages.
Unvaccinated passengers must show a negative result from a self-test taken within three days of their trip on sailings 15 nights or less, though unvaccinated children under 5 are exempt.
► Holland America Line will no longer require pre-cruise testing for vaccinated guests on sailings 15 nights or less, per a news release. Unvaccinated guests 5 and older must show a negative result from a medically supervised test or self-test taken within three days of sailing.
On cruises 16 nights or longer, all guests 5 and up must provide “a medically supervised COVID-19 test with written negative result.” Passengers must get tested within three days of embarkation, and unvaccinated travelers will still need an exemption.