Carnival Cruise Line Clarifies Its New Testing Requirements

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Many were left wondering yesterday after Carnival Cruise Line issued new directives to guests booked onboard its ships in the coming months. The cruise line issued new protocols, including the reinstating of mask policies onboard and a new testing policy for vaccinated guests.

After the cruise line was bombarded with questions online, Brand Ambassador John Heald, who is currently on the company’s newest ship Mardi Gras, explained the new rules and clarified some unclear points in the letter from Carnival’s President Christine Duffy yesterday.

Testing Requirements, Timing, and Start Dates

On cruises that depart on or after August 14, 2021, through October 31, guests who have been fully vaccinated will need to present a negative test result before sailing. Guests can choose whether they take an Antigen test, a rapid antigen test, or a PCR test.

Carnival has not set any rules for which test is preferred; instead, guests are free to choose what they feel is easier and more comfortable for them. Guests can indeed check with their healthcare provider to be reimbursed for the cost of testing.

While the cruise line has set up a 72-hour timeline before the cruise starts, during which guests should be tested, this is not a hard deadline. Guests can be tested on any three days leading up to the cruise, as long as it does not exceed 72 hours before sailing. For example:

  • If the cruise departs on Saturday, guests can do the test on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.
  • If the cruise departs on Sunday, guests can do the test on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.
  • If the cruise departs on Tuesday, guests can get tested on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.

The testing time on those days does not matter, nor does the sailing or embarkation time. In the United States, guests can do testing at Walgreens, CVS, Dwayne Wade, etc.

Carnival Cruise Ship in Miami, Florida
Photo Credit: SNEHIT PHOTO /

Unvaccinated Guest Requirements

Guests sailing under the exemption scheme are still bound to the rules as set out by Carnival Cruise Line earlier. The cruise line stated the following:

“Unvaccinated guests are still required to show the negative results of a PCR test taken between 72 and 24 hours prior to the sailing date, and will be tested again in the terminal prior to boarding the ship and again within 24 hours of debarkation (for itineraries five days or longer). Unvaccinated guests approved for an exemption will continue to be charged $150, per person, for testing, reporting and health safety screenings, and also must provide proof of travel insurance if departing from the states of Florida or Texas.”

Kids under the age of two are still exempt from the testing requirements.

Wearing Masks

The re-implementation of masks caused some worrying responses from guests booked onboard the Carnival ships. The cruise line was one of the few that had done away entirely with masks onboard except for crew members and guests not vaccinated. This has now changed.

Cruise Ship Illness with Mask
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

When masks are mandatory:

  • All guests age two and older will be required to wear face masks in elevators and in designated indoor entertainment areas, all retail shops, and in the casino, except when eating or drinking.
  • Guests will be required to wear face masks before being seated in the main dining rooms, the Lido Buffet area, and occasionally in other designated areas where more guests may congregate.

When masks are not mandatory:

  • The open decks and Lido and in the pools.
  • Sitting outside on deck
  • In the gym and the spa.
  • While eating in any of the restaurants onboard
  • While enjoying a cocktail, coffee, drink, etc. in the bars and lounges
  • Your cabin

The cruise line will be enforcing these rules according to John Heald:

“So a few of you asked if this will be enforced and the answer is that the entire ship’s company will be helping make sure that in places where large groups gather like the entrance to the dining room etc that yes, masks are worn. However, I think that many of you will do so without question when needed because it is, for now, the right thing to do.”

The message from John Heald will certainly clear things up for the majority of guests that had concerns regarding the new guidelines. Unfortunately, we will likely see many changes over the coming months that will either make guidelines stricter or less strict. For those of us looking forward to a cruise, it will be a fact that will have to be accepted for now.

This also comes after the cruise line confirmed a small number of positive cases onboard the Carnival Vista. The new mask policy has also been implemented earlier for the vessel due to the positive results.

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