The return of cruises has had many jumping for joy, but with each cruise line adhering to different COVID-19 protocols, booking a cruise can be terribly confusing.
There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding what rules apply to cruise ships after the tight restrictions during the pandemic.
“The cruise industries have seen a slower return to normal since the pandemic, but are definitely making a comeback,” Dr Jan Jones of the University of New Haven’s hospitality and tourism department told Condé Nast Traveller. “Cruisers have been patiently waiting and there is pent-up demand. The slow return was impacted by low consumer confidence, continued health and safety concerns, and issues with air travel to and from ports.”
According to the Australia’s Department of Health, as of July 2022, travellers to and from Australia no longer need to provide evidence of their COVID-19 vaccination status, though travellers are encouraged to be vaccinated for their own protection.
But the department warns that cruise operators may have specific requirements for their passengers, and must also meet any requirements of the state or territory they are operating in – meaning it’s best to check the requirements of your cruise operator and the states and/or territories and countries in which you will be travelling.
We’ve rounded up the cruise lines that have adjusted their approach to COVID-19 in a post-pandemic world.
Azamara does not require a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding unless this is required by local country regulations (those embarking from Australia, however, require testing).
They also highly recommend that guests take a COVID-19 test prior to starting their travels. Azamara will provide a complimentary test for their pre-cruise land program or hotel stay guests prior to embarkation.
Vaccinated cruises are available for guests 12 years and older, who have received their final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the sailing day (not counting embarkation day) and have proof of vaccination.
All guests ages 12 and older must be fully vaccinated to sail, and while COVID-19 booster vaccine shots are not currently required to sail, they are highly recommended.
Guests are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if 2 weeks have passed since their second dose in a 2-dose series (such as Pfizer or Moderna vaccines); or, 2 weeks after a one dose series such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. All guests must test negative for COVID-19 in order to board their sailing.
Vaccination or COVID recovery certificate are required for all guests ages 12 and above. Vaccination boosters after the elapse of nine months (270 days) is required for all guests ages 18 and above, as well as a COVID-19 Antigen Rapid test or PCR test for all guests ages 12 and above. Self-tests are not accepted.
Disney Cruise Line
Starting September 2, 2022, for voyages from the United States and Canadian ports, Disney Cruise Line requires that all vaccine-eligible guests (ages 12 and older) be fully vaccinated in order to cruise, including children.
Unvaccinated children five to 11 years old will no longer need the vaccine to sail, though cruises that visit Australia, Canada, and Greece must still have passengers test before setting sail.
Holland America Line
It is highly recommended that guests are fully vaccinated and boosted (if eligible) at time of sailing.
To find out what vaccine and testing requirements apply to your voyage, click here. Enhanced testing and vaccine requirements may apply to certain itineraries, so it is important that guests check the requirements for their specific booking by using the link above.
All guests embarking are strongly encouraged, but not required, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. For vaccinated guests, it’s not required (but strongly recommended) to present a negative test.
Unvaccinated guests, guests without a vaccine certificate, or guests who have recovered from COVID-19, ages 5 and older are required to present a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR or Antigen test taken 48 hours prior to embarkation. Tests must be laboratory certified – a rapid antigen self-test is not valid for travel purposes.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Beginning October 4, 2022, Norwegian Cruise Line will drop all vaccination requirements on its global sailings, making them the first major cruise line to announce it will discontinue requirements for all guests.
NCL will continue to follow the travel requirements of the destinations it visits, as some countries require a negative test for vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers 12 and older, or a certificate of recovery.
Fully vaccinated travellers aged 12 and older will not need to test to embark, but unvaccinated travellers will need to present a negative, medically administered covid-19 test. Antigen and PCR test results may not be more than 72 hours old at the time of boarding.
Travellers aged 11 and under are not subject to any cruise line vaccination requirements or testing protocols. Fully Vaccinated travellers must meet the generally-accepted definition of “fully vaccinated” based on the destination they are embarking and/or travelling to and must provide proof of vaccination.
Travellers who cannot provide proof of vaccination will be able to travel but subject to any required testing protocols.
P&O Cruises Australia
Prior to boarding, guests will complete a health declaration which includes verification that they do not have COVID symptoms. All guests 12 years and older are required to be fully vaccinated with a TGA-approved or recognised vaccine. It is strongly recommended that eligible children under 12 years of age are also fully vaccinated.
Minimum 95% of guests must be fully vaccinated on each P&O Cruises departure.
Guests must also declare their vaccination status at the time of booking and provide proof of vaccination status before boarding.
Guests must have received their final dose of an authorised COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before the beginning of the cruise and provide acceptable proof at terminal check-in.
Boosters are highly recommended for those eligible at least seven days before cruising.
At terminal check-in, guests must attest to a negative viral COVID-19 test (PCR or rapid antigen) taken before embarkation.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Fully vaccinated guests are not required to test prior to embarkation. Unvaccinated guests may embark with evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR or Antigen test from a registered test provider taken within 3 days prior to embarkation.
All Royal Caribbean guests departing from Australia must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with the final dose administered at least 14 days before sailing. Children aged 11 and under do not require COVID-19 vaccination to cruise, however it is highly recommended.
As part of Australian Federal and State Government guidelines for cruising, at least 95% of guests must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Children aged 11 and under, and guests with a valid medical exemption are permitted to travel – however, there is a limit on the number of unvaccinated guests that can travel on each cruise departure.
For most cruises under 16 nights, fully vaccinated guests will no longer need to submit a pre-cruise COVID-19 test, and unvaccinated guests will only need to submit a self-administered test taken within three days of sailing.
The protocols do not apply to itineraries for countries where local regulations may vary including Canada, Australia, and Greece.
Before you cruise, check their Enhanced Protocol Lookup to find out if your voyage requires additional health regulation requirements.
All embarking crew, and all guests aged 12 years and older, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at least two weeks prior to embarkation.
Only guests with vaccines approved by the WHO will be permitted to board. A copy of the vaccination certificate must be uploaded to the guest’s ‘My Silversea’ in advance of their travels, in addition to showing their vaccination certificate or printed copy during the check-in and embarkation process.
Negative COVID-19 tests are required for unvaccinated Sailors, however, they may require tests for a number of reasons including recovery cases within 90 days.