More cruise lines drop COVID vaccine requirements

The new policies came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ended its covid-19 cruise program.

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Two giant cruise lines are dropping vaccine requirements for some ships, following a flurry of recent moves to ease pandemic-era restrictions that kept some travelers from boarding.

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Sister cruise lines Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises said on their websites that from September 5 everyone ‘regardless of their vaccination status’ could sail on specific cruises as long as they met the requirements. of testing.

For Celebrity, that means cruises departing from Los Angeles, the UK and Europe (excluding Iceland). Royal Caribbean cruises that do not require vaccinations include sailings that depart from European ports, Los Angeles, Galveston, Texas and New Orleans.

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

“We are working with local governments in the Eastern Caribbean to align with vaccination requirements for more itineraries,” Royal Caribbean said on its website. “We want to ensure a great experience ashore in these ports, for guests of any vaccination status, while respecting local health regulations. We will have more information in the next few days.

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This week’s updates follow an announcement on Monday by Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises that unvaccinated passengers would be permitted on many cruises starting September 3. Operators, all part of the same parent company, also facilitated testing. requirements for vaccinated passengers.

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

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

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On Thursday, the public health agency further relaxed its broad coronavirus recommendations. The revised guidelines no longer advise screening or testing in most settings for people without symptoms or known exposure.

Cruise lines – which touted their strict health protocols earlier in the pandemic – said they expect to ease their restrictions further in the coming days.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners around the world to develop updated protocols that ensure the continued safety of our customers and the communities we visit, better aligning with the travel and hospitality industry. and comply with destination regulations,” Royal Caribbean said. in a statement last month. “It means we’re getting to the point where everyone can vacation with us.”

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Joan J. Holland