As we have said could happen given the rise of Delta cases in the United States, cruise lines are stepping up their protocols to combat potential cases on ships.
In the latest move, Carnival Cruise Line is implementing masks in “certain indoor areas” of its ships. It is also requiring all vaccinated guests to have proof of a negative virus test taken within three days of boarding.
The company announced the change today in a press release:
As it continues with its successful restart of guest operations, Carnival Cruise Line is adapting to the evolving public health situation by advising booked guests of temporary changes in onboard mask and pre-cruise testing requirements.
Carnival will continue to operate with vaccinated cruises as defined by the CDC, including having its crew fully vaccinated. However, in an abundance of caution, and following the lead of similar sectors and venues – including Nevada casinos, Disney theme parks, and Broadway theaters – all guests will be asked to wear masks in certain indoor areas of Carnival’s ships. This new policy goes into effect with all cruises that depart on or after Saturday, Aug. 7, through Oct. 31, 2021.
In addition, Carnival has added a pre-cruise testing requirement for all vaccinated guests. Effective with cruises departing on Saturday, Aug. 14 through Oct. 31, 2021, all fully vaccinated guests must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) taken within three days of their embarkation. Testing in the terminal will not be available. Vaccinated guests are required to come with their negative test results and proof of vaccination for boarding.
Carnival also updated their health protocols on their website with more details on the mask requirement:
“All guests age 2 and older will be required to wear face masks in elevators and in designated indoor entertainment areas, all retail shops, and in the casino, except when eating or drinking. Guests will be required to wear face masks prior to being seated in our main dining rooms and in the Lido Buffet area and occasionally in other designated areas where larger number of guests may congregate (signs will be posted). Additionally, masks are required at any indoor activity with children under 12 years.”
Before the change in policy, Carnival did not require masks around the ship as they sail with nearly everyone vaccinated. Masks were recommended for the small number of unvaccinated passengers. Those without the shot also required testing before boarding, but vaccinated passengers did not.
The policy change comes as Delta cases soar in the United States. From a 7-day average of around 12,000 cases per day in late June, the number has jumped to more than 90,000 cases per day roughly a month later.
Royal Caribbean also announced it would begin requiring tests for vaccinated passengers before boarding for its cruises. The cruise line had several positive cases recently found among vaccinated passengers on a recent sailing from Nassau.
While cruise lines have returned to sailing with no major outbreaks reported, cases have certainly been found on ships.
Of the 65 ships tracked by the CDC that are sailing or plan to sail from the United States, 24 of them (37%) currently have “yellow” or “orange” status, indicating possible cases on the ship within the last seven days. Eight of 17 Carnival ships are listed as either yellow or orange. (Note: Color status can change with as little as one potential case.)
With cases increasing on land, that means cruise lines like Carnival will need to fight that much harder to keep cases low on ships.
“These new requirements are being implemented to protect our guests and crew while on board, and to continue to provide confidence to our homeports and destinations that we are doing our part to support their efforts to protect public health and safety,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “We expect these requirements will be temporary and appreciate the cooperation of our guests.”