With virus cases still at high levels, Carnival Cruise Line announced that it will continue with current health protocols — including testing and vaccine requirements — for the “foreseeable future.”
In addition, updates to masking rules and bans on smoking in casinos on its ships were also made.
In a change to Carnival’s page outlining COVID-19 protocols, we noticed that mask rules now have no end date mentioned. Previous rules requiring masks in indoor areas of the ship were put in place in late last year, with a tentative end date of January 31. For February and March sailings, the page had said that masks were strongly encouraged, but only required in certain areas.
Now there is no end date mentioned, and Carnival simply says that masks are required for all passengers two and above “all times when indoors, except when eating or drinking or when in their own staterooms and when outdoors if in large gatherings and physical distancing cannot be maintained.”
There was a similar adjustment to casino smoking rules. Carnival eliminated all smoking in casinos through January in response to Omicron. For sailings in February and March, its website previously said there was no smoking unless “seated and playing.”
As with mask rules, the mention of any sort of end date has been removed. Instead, the rule now simply states “there is no smoking in the casino at all times.”
We reached out to Carnival for comment, but didn’t immediately hear back.
New Changes to Make Boarding Easier
While we all look forward to a day when the health requirements aren’t needed anymore, the cruise line also announced some upcoming changes that should make the process of preparing for a trip much easier for passengers.
First, Carnival is testing a new way to present your proof of vaccination and test results before boarding. Instead of checking these document by hand, the cruise line is testing out a program known as VeriFLY.
Used by other travel players like American Airlines and Hyatt, this program allows you to upload your test results and vaccine proof via your phone before you ever arrive at the terminal. Then, they can be verified ahead of time, making it easier and faster to get on the ship when arriving on cruise day.
Carnival is testing this in a pilot program for sailings on Mardi Gras from Port Canaveral. It says that it “intends to move quickly” to roll out the service across all its ships.
That’s not the only change. Carnival says that it is also looking at providing testing at terminals for shorter cruises.
Right now, cruise passengers are required to get their own test taken within two days of sailing. That step is an extra hassle that passengers must take before they can enjoy their cruise.
Instead, Carnival says they are working to expand testing at the terminal to make things simpler:
“Carnival is also working to expand testing capabilities at the terminal for vaccinated guests, specifically for short itineraries (3- and 4-day voyages). Once implemented, vaccinated guests will be able to meet the pre-cruise testing requirement as part of the embarkation process. Pre-registration will be required, and there will be capacity limits based on the resources of testing providers. Testing sites to support short itinerary cruises will be phased in and announced by the end of January.”
There was no word if these tests would be included with your cruise fare or be an additional charge.
For the time being it looks as though the “new” way of cruising is set to stick around, but these changes should make the boarding process much more convenient.