Do you need to wear a facemask if you cruise? Rules vary from cruise line to cruise line, and even on specific lines the rules are in a regular state of change. First they were not required, then they were, and now rules have (quickly) eased again.
If you’re a passenger with an upcoming trip, then it can make it hard to know exactly what the requirements are and if you’ll have to pack the mask or if you can vacation on a cruise ship without worrying about it.
Below we’ve covered the current mask requirements on major cruise lines, as of the published date of this article. One thing to keep in mind is these rules are changing regularly, especially as cases subside at the time of this article. In other words, it could be that the requirements on your cruise are different by the time you sail.
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Cruise Terminals (Embarkation & Debarkation)
No matter which cruise line you sail, you’ll have to go through a cruise terminal to board. At this time, federal mandates require masks on while boarding and getting off the ship. So even if you sail a cruise line that does not require a mask, it is required as you enter the terminal and go through the boarding process. Think of it as the same as traveling through an airport.
However, once on the ship then you follow that cruise line’s specific rules.
Carnival Cruise Line Mask Policy
As of March 1, Carnival relaxed mask requirements on its ships. As of now, passengers do not have to wear a mask onboard, except in “certain venues and events.”
“Effective with sailings departing March 1, masks are recommended on board but not required. However, masks may be required in certain venues and events. Please pay close attention to onboard signage.
“All guests must wear masks during the entire embarkation and debarkation process (at the home port and ports of call, including the onboard pre-debarkation process), during any Carnival-approved shore excursions and while on any transportation vehicles, including water shuttles.”
In other words, apart from a few spots here and there and when boarding, masks aren’t required around the cruise ship.
Royal Caribbean Mask Policy
Royal Caribbean adjusted their mask policy starting in February 2021 to relax the rules for passengers.
“Masks are optional for fully vaccinated guests. We expect unvaccinated children to continue wearing masks indoors and in crowded settings. Masks are required for all children age 2 and older while at the Adventure Ocean youth program. Guests under 2 do not have to wear a mask at any time.”
Masks are also not required on the cruise line’s CocoCay private island and Labadee. You will, however, have to mask up when embarking and disembarking the ship.
Norwegian Cruise Lines Mask Policy
NCL is another cruise line that’s eased restrictions recently. As of March 1, 2022, masks are not required anywhere on the ship whether indoors or outdoors.
“Our cruises will operate with 100% vaccination of crew and guests age twelve and over, therefore face coverings are not required while onboard. However, we recognize the added protections provided when wearing a mask covering and recommend that all guests do so onboard when indoors, except when actively eating or drinking, or seated at a table in a dining setting, or when in their stateroom. “
If sailing in Europe, then the cruise line says local rules call for masks when indoors on the ship, except when eating or drinking.
Celebrity Mask Policy
Starting in late February 2022, Celebrity relaxed masking rules on its ships. If you are vaccinated, then you don’t have to wear a mask. Unvaccinated passengers must mask at all times while indoors except when dining.
According to the cruise line:
“Effective February 25, 2022 face masks will be optional on board for all vaccinated guests. Masks will continue to be required for unvaccinated guests, at all times indoors, except while eating or drinking. This policy will be re-evaluated on a continuous basis.”
Princess Cruises Mask Policy
If you are sailing on Princess, then know that the cruise line has largely removed the requirement to wear a mask while on the ship. However, there may be some spots where it is required, in addition to inside the cruise terminal.
“Effective March 1, 2022, masks on board will be recommended, but not required in the vast majority of venues. There may be select venues or certain situations in which masks are required. This will be clearly designated with signage and onboard communications.”
Disney Mask Policy
While most other cruise lines have eased masking rules,
Disney still requires all guests aged two years or older to be masked when indoors on the ship as of now.
Update: Disney has now followed other lines and eased masking rules as of March 11 sailing.
According to the current policy on the Disney Cruise website:
“For sailings originating from a U.S. port of departure beginning March 11, 2022, face coverings will be optional in most indoor locations throughout our ships. Guests ages 2 and up, including those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, will still be required to wear face coverings in the Walt Disney Theatre. Guests under 5 years of age who are currently ineligible to be vaccinated will be required to wear face coverings in Youth Activity spaces and in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique; and, while not required, we continue to strongly recommend these guests wear a face covering in all other indoor locations.”
Virgin Voyages Mask Policy
Virgin Voyages is known for being adults-only, which means it’s easier to require vaccines. In fact, the cruise line requires all passengers to have the shot to sail.
Starting in late February, Virgin Voyages adjusted its policies from requiring masks when indoors to going completely mask-free. You will have to follow mask rules for terminals and local rules in ports of call.
“Masks are required for the test site, terminal, and while on shuttle services. And based on the latest developments and the CDC’s recommendations, until February 27th, we are requiring Sailors wear masks indoors except while eating and drinking. After that date, we aim to return to a full maskless experience on board.“
MSC Mask Policy
While other cruise lines are sailing under a “highly vaccinated” status by the CDC’s rules (meaning 95% of passengers have the shot) MSC is not. Therefore, it should be no surprise that the cruise line is keeping masks on for longer.
In this case, vaccinated passengers aren’t required to wear masks in vaccinated areas, but they are required elsewhere until late April. After that, the cruise line will go to a masks not being required if vaccinated.
“Until April 22, 2022, for ships departing from U.S. ports, fully vaccinated guests are not required to wear masks at venues designated for vaccinated guests only, such as select bars, lounges, restaurants, shows, spa thermal area, the casino, or during events and activities that are geared towards fully vaccinated guests only. Guests who are not fully vaccinated (over 2 and under 12 years old) are required to wear masks on board in indoor public areas. Masks are required for all guests in the terminal at embarkation and disembarkation.
“Beginning April 23, 2022, for ships departing from U.S. ports, masks will be recommended but not required on board in public areas for fully vaccinated guests. Guests who are not fully vaccinated (over 2 and under 5 years old) are required to wear masks on board in indoor public areas. Masks are required for all guests in the terminal at embarkation and disembarkation.”
Holland America Mask Policy
For sailings from the United States, Holland America recently updated their rules as of March 1. They currently state:
“Effective with sailings departing March 1, masks are recommended on board but not required. However, masks may be required in certain venues and events. Please pay close attention to onboard signage.”
The Bottom Line on Mask Policies
As mentioned at the start of this article, masking rules are in a state of transition. Many cruise lines are easing the requirements and the trend is definitely toward requiring masks in fewer places or not at all.
In other words, if you are planning to sail soon, it’s likely that masks won’t be required on your cruise.
However, all that depends on cases on land. Should they continue to move lower and stay low, then you can likely say adios to masks going forward. But should cases spike, expect cruises to keep them around for a little longer.