Vaccination exemptions are limited to a small number of guests aged five and above, and their capacity is determined based on the total number of vaccinated guests expected to be on board. Children under five years of age are not required to apply for a vaccination exemption, but they must still meet the requirements for unvaccinated guests, including testing before the cruise and on the day of boarding. Requests are not guaranteed and will be processed once the reservation has been paid in full, in order of departure date and once the estimated count of vaccinated guests has been finalized. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently lifted its two-year-old travel advisory that warned Americans against boarding cruise ships.
This move could help the cruise line industry recover from the billions of dollars in losses it suffered during the coronavirus pandemic. Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean have already dropped their mask mandates earlier this year as cases and deaths related to COVID-19 decreased. However, these requirements have not stopped passengers from contracting the virus. An unknown number of passengers and crew members aboard a Princess cruise ship in California tested positive last weekend while on a 15-day cruise to the Panama Canal.
The CDC still recommends that passengers get vaccinated one day before boarding, and suggests that travelers see a doctor if they are immunocompromised or at greater risk of becoming seriously ill. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) expects the cruise lines to fully recover from the pandemic next year. In March, the CDC withdrew its warning against cruise travel for the first time in two years, and told Americans to do their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a cruise ship, as they do with all other travel environments. While face masks are optional on American Cruise Lines, they are still mandatory on Pearl Seas Cruises in indoor public spaces unless you are sitting and actively eating or drinking.
If you are planning to cruise around Europe or other parts of the world, your cruise company may also ask you to get a booster shot depending on the government travel policies of the countries you are sailing to due to COVID-19. While traveling on a cruise ship used to be as simple as packing a swimsuit and setting sail, the new COVID-19 protocols have complicated the perfect summer vacation for many travelers. Passengers who test positive when boarding and their traveling companions in the same cabin, along with other close contacts, will not be able to travel by cruise ship and will be granted a cruise credit in the future. Cruise lines that have vaccination requirements to sail will likely request a voucher upon boarding.