Following similar moves by other cruise destinations in recent weeks, Barbados has begun to ease pandemic-related health and safety protocols and offer greater freedom for visitors. Of greatest interest is the island nation dropping the testing requirement for fully vaccinated cruise ship travelers.
No Testing Required to Visit Barbados
As of September 1, 2022, visitors to Barbados who are “in transit” through the nation no longer need to present a negative COVID-19 test prior to visiting.
In transit passage means a short stay to sightsee without staying on the island overnight, but instead returning to the cruise ship to depart. This is common with port of call visits in many destinations.
Prior to arriving in Barbados, cruise lines must conduct health assessments of passengers onboard – which cruise lines typically do before embarkation – and submit those results to local authorities.
Cruise passengers will not need to submit individual health assessments to Barbados authorities; this step will be handled by each cruise line for each port visit.
Upon arrival in the Caribbean nation, cruise ship guests who are fully vaccinated – with the last in their series of primary vaccine doses administered at least 14 days before traveling to Barbados – have no further restrictions to explore the island, book shore tours, visit local attractions, or otherwise enjoy their time in port.
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No booster shot is required to be considered fully vaccinated in Barbados.
Guests will be expected to comply with any local guidelines or restrictions such as social distancing, hand sanitizing, or wearing a mask if requested, however, policies that are common in many destinations at this time.
In recent weeks, many Caribbean destinations have dropped pre-arrival testing requirements and more fully opened their ports to cruise travelers. This boost in tourism is beneficial for many port communities, supporting retailers, tour operators, restaurants, bars, artisans, tour guides, and many more local residents and employees.
Grand Cayman, one of the strictest holdouts for pandemic protocols, recently updated its requirements and dropped all travel restrictions just two weeks ago, on August 24, 2022. Similarly, St. Kitts dropped all its travel restrictions a week earlier, on August 15, 2022.
Guests who have not been fully vaccinated must still test negative before arriving in Barbados.
To meet this requirement, a rapid antigen test can be administered onboard the cruise ship up to 48 hours before arriving in Barbados, and travelers should check with their cruise line for assistance in arranging the test within an appropriate time frame depending on the ship’s itinerary.
If guests test positive before arriving, the cruise line will need to make suitable arrangements for affected passengers’ isolation, and they will not be permitted to debark in port.
Different cruise lines may have different procedures for this type of isolation, and travelers should check with their cruise line for updated information before setting sail.
Cruising to Barbados
A popular eastern Caribbean port destination, Barbados is a unique blend of Caribbean and British culture with its own unique tropical vibes.
More than 25 cruise lines currently offer sailings to Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados, including Celebrity Cruises, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Viking Cruises, P&O Cruises, Cunard Line, Princess Cruises, TUI Cruises, Silversea Cruises, and Holland America Line.
The port is most popular during the winter months, when the weather is most clement and hurricane season has calmed, and does not generally host cruise ship calls during the height of summer.
An average of 800,000 cruise travelers visit Barbados annually, enjoying such unique experiences as locally distilled and distinctive rums, outstanding snorkeling among marine wildlife, exploring intricate caves, exploring sugarcane plantations, and much more.