Norwegian Cruise Line and its sister lines Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises are rolling back COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements next month, the latest cruise line to relax rules enacted during the pandemic.
The three cruise lines, all under Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, LTD, will adjust their protocols as of Sept. 3, under which vaccinated guests 12 and older will no longer be required to do any pre-cruise testing ahead of sailing, and unvaccinated guests will be allowed to sail.
Unvaccinated guests will still need to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of disembarkation.
Those 11 and under will not fall under any vaccination or testing guidelines, although everyone sailing may still be subject to local regulations of wherever the ships sail.
“The company will continue to evaluate its protocols and modify them as needed as the public health environment evolves,” reads a statement from the NCLH’s quarterly financial report released Tuesday. “These protocol revisions, in conjunction with continued easing of travel restrictions and reopening to cruise in more ports around the globe, are meaningfully positive as it reduces friction, expands the addressable cruise market, brings variety to itineraries, and provides additional catalysts on the road to recovery.”
The move comes after similar decisions from Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises to relax restrictions on short cruises of five days or less. Disney Cruise Line has yet to adjust its testing and vaccination requirements. Cruise lines began reassessing requirements in the wake of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ending its cruise COVID-19 guidance program in July.
The CDC’s cruise guidance program including the color-coded program that determined to what level COVID-19 was present on vessels was shut down on July 18. In its FAQ section, the CDC said travelers with COVID-19 outbreak concerns should contact individual cruise lines, although lines will continue to report cases to the CDC.
The industry was shut down for nearly a year and a half after the pandemic exploded in March 2020, with several outbreaks centered on cruise ships. The industry worked with the CDC to develop dozens of safety measures in an effort to get cruise lines back up and running, and out from under a no-sail order from the CDC.
The first ships began sailing from the U.S. in summer 2021, and over the following year brought most of their fleets back into service.©2022 Orlando Sentinel. Visit at orlandosentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.