Another day, another major cruise line announcing that it is dropping the requirement for testing… at least on some of its cruises.
Following the announcement yesterday by Royal Caribbean that it would no longer require vaccinated passengers to present a negative Covid test before boarding, Carnival changed its policy today.
The new rules that go into effect with sailings departing on August 4. At that time, the cruise line says protocols will see the following changes:
- No pre-cruise testing for fully vaccinated guests booked on cruises with itineraries 5 nights or less.
- Pre-cruise testing for itineraries 6 nights or longer can be conducted three (3) days before departure.
- There will be no in-terminal testing for unvaccinated guests on day of departure, but all unvaccinated guests ages 2 and older must provide proof of a negative result of a lab-administered or supervised self-administered antigen COVID test taken within three (3) days before embarkation.
In other words if you’re taking a week-long cruise with Carnival, then not much is changing. However, if you’re taking a shorter getaway, then you have one less hurdle to being able to sail.
This move mirrors the relaxation of Covid protocols seen across the industry since the CDC retired its voluntary program for cruise ships earlier this month. Virgin Voyages dropped its testing requirement. Royal Caribbean plans to remove testing rules for its short cruises starting in August.
More Changes on the Way
Carnival also said in its announcement that this is just a starting step in the relaxation of Covid rules for passengers to sail:
“We remain, as always, committed to the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we serve. These changes will be made in phases, with the first of these updates effective on Thursday, August 4, 2022 and focused on short cruise itineraries of 5 nights or less.
“More changes will be announced shortly and all changes are subject to any requirements of destinations on the itinerary.”
So what might these other changes be? Obviously there could be further removal of testing rules for longer cruises, but we also recently questioned whether a removal or relaxation of vaccine rules might be on the table in cruising. For example, Royal Caribbean recently stated that it was “transitioning to the point where everyone will be able to vacation with us…”
Carnival’s statement of more changes to be announced certainly catches our attention.
The cruise line currently requires passengers 12 years and older to be vaccinated to sail. However, they do allow a small percentage of passengers to receive an exemption in order to cruise. This includes children 5-11 (under 5 years old do not require an exemption to sail) and teens/adults with a medical reason to prevent taking the vaccine.
With the trend toward easing restrictions in day-to-day life, as well as comments from the major cruise lines as they relax testing rules, it’s certainly something to watch.