German Cruise Operator AIDA has updated its protocols for cruise ships departing through the Fall and Winter seasons. The cruise line did so only recently to comply with new health regulations introduced in the countries the cruise line sails to. There are also some changes on board with some relaxed rules.
The new rules include that all guests over the age of 12 years old for cruises in Europe must be fully vaccinated. Guests that have recovered from COVID-19 and have not yet been vaccinated are not allowed to sail in Europe. For children under 12, a negative COVID-19 test is sufficient.
The rules are a lot stricter for cruises to Norway, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Asia. The vaccination mandate includes all guests onboard. All guests, including children, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19; guests who have recovered from COVID-19 and who cannot get vaccinated are not allowed to sail.
Despite the new vaccination updates, the onboard experience may be more relaxed as the cruise line is allowing self-service in the buffet and more. The Carnival-owned cruise line posted, “Update on our winter travels 2021/2022!! We have updated our health and safety concepts for all travels. The innovations bring some relief for onboard life – e.g. self-service in the buffet restaurants as well as service in at least one buffet restaurant, extension of wellness services and much more.”
The new rules have been implemented after several countries mandated complete vaccination for all onboard. This affects, for example, cruises onboard AIDAsol to Norway. Norwegian authorities require all guests of any age to have vaccination protection. Several countries in the Caribbean have recently mandated the same, including the Bahamas and the US Virgin Islands.
The new rules affect all AIDA ships in operation now and in the coming winter months. The cruise line only mandated vaccinations on cruises to Norway this summer and fall. This measure is being imposed on all cruises on all ships now to varying degrees.
For cruises in Europe, the following ships will require all guests above the age of twelve to be fully vaccinated: AIDAblu, AIDAcosma, AIDAmar, AIDAperla, AIDAprima, AIDAstella, and AIDAvita.
AIDAdiva, AIDAluna, AIDAperla, AIDAsol, and AIDAnova will be sailing in the Caribbean, Norway, Middle East, or Asia, and therefore all passengers without exception must provide proof of full vaccination. The exact implementation dates for each vessel are:
- AIDAblu from Oct 31, 2021
- AIDAcosma from Dec 22, 2021
- AIDAdiva from Oct 26, 2021
- AIDAluna from Oct 18, 2021
- AIDAmar from Oct 24, 2021
- AIDAnova from Nov 5, 2021
- AIDAperla from Oct 29, 2021
- AIDAprima from Oct 23, 2021
- AIDAsol from Oct 16, 2021
- AIDAstella from Oct 31, 2021
- AIDAvita from Feb 19, 2022
Some Guests booked onboard one of the ships have reacted with disappointment, and in some cases anger, to the rule change while others are happy about the relaxed experience onboard. The cruise line was one of the few that had not yet implemented a fleet-wide vaccine requirement.
One reason for many to book AIDA instead of other cruise lines. One guest said the following on the company’s Facebook page:
“Two days ago we just cancelled our Caribbean cruise with Norwegian and booked AIDA because it was unsure if Norwegian would extend the requirement for a 100 % vaccination rate beyond 31.12. Last night we also booked the first shore trips directly. Unfortunately, the children under 12 are the absolute losers of this pandemic. It is known that Corona is almost 100 % without problems with this age group, when the older passengers are vaccinated, they would be protected accordingly (as of course my wife and I). I’m deeply disappointed right now.”
AIDA Cruises now joins other German cruise lines TUI and Hapag Lloyd, and most international cruise lines, which have also required mandatory vaccinations.
Other measures guests will need to follow before boarding and while onboard include testing before boarding and on longer cruises during the cruise, mandatory mask use in all indoor areas except when eating or drinking, and social distancing measures throughout the vessel.
Guests who wish to cancel their cruise due to these measures can do so free of charge; guests who wish to rebook will be able to avail of an onboard credit.