Carnival Cruise Line has responded to guest concerns about what is now a seasonal rise in COVID-19 infections and the possibility of reinstating pre-cruise testing or vaccination protocols.
While such measures are encouraged, there are no plans at this time to bring back mandates for pre-cruise or onboard measures.
Will COVID Mandates Come Back to Cruises?
Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald has responded to guest concerns about the possibility of bringing back COVID-19 measures that were mandated during the height of the pandemic and the restart of cruise travel in mid-2021. This includes the possibility of pre-cruise testing, vaccination requirements, wearing masks onboard, and other measures.
Heald answers hundreds of guest questions each day, and inquiries about COVID-19 protocols have been more frequent as the seasonal cold-and-flu (now cold-and-flu-and-COVID) season sets in.
Guests have asked if tests are necessary prior to setting sail, or if such a requirement will become mandated in the next few weeks. Similarly, travelers who have returned from recent cruises feeling ill have inquired if protective measures will be enforced again to limit exposure.
“As you know, the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have both declared an end of the public health emergency associated with COVID-19, so we are all exposed to potential variants in our everyday activities, and most certainly not just on cruise ships,” said Heald in response to such inquiries.
“Specific protocols for U.S. cruises were lifted in 2022 and there are no special protocols for cruise in most parts of the world.”
In fact, Australia was one of the longest holdouts for vaccination mandates and onboard masks, but those requirements were dropped in August 2023, ahead of the Southern Hemisphere summer cruise season, which is just beginning.
At this time, no major cruise destinations anywhere in the world require pre-arrival testing, mask-wearing, or other pandemic-related protocols. Similarly, all major cruise lines have stopped mandating such measures.
“At the moment there are absolutely no plans for us, or indeed, anybody within the cruise industry for the most part reinstating anything,” Heald confirmed.
Protection Still Recommended
This does not mean that travelers are unprotected, however, as Carnival Cruise Line – as well as other cruise lines – does recommend that passengers be vigilant about their health and take the measures they feel most comfortable with.
This includes staying up-to-date on current vaccination recommendations as well as testing within three days of a cruise to ensure good health before sailing.
“With the emergency lifted, it is important that individuals take the precautions they feel are necessary for their own health,” said Heald.
Carnival Cruise Line is also continuing onboard measures such as enhanced cleaning of public areas, minimizing entrances into guest staterooms, and providing hand sanitizer at all food-serving areas.
Vaccines and boosters are also available to all crew members, and individual crew members may choose to wear masks if they are more comfortable doing so.
Staying Healthy Onboard
Guests on Carnival cruises can also easily take steps to protect themselves further if desired. There is no prohibition against wearing masks, avoiding crowded elevators, and practicing social distancing in public areas. Guests could also bring sanitizing wipes for their stateroom, avoid using public restrooms, and choose to eat outdoors as much as possible for more natural ventilation.
Bringing along one’s own COVID-19 tests for onboard use could give guests peace of mind in case they do begin to feel unwell, and each ship’s medical center is also available for treatment should it be necessary.
It is also important to note that symptoms may not appear for 2-14 days after initial exposure, and so even if a passenger begins to feel ill while on their cruise vacation, there is no way to know where they may have contracted the illness – from a plane or airport traveling to the homeport, while at a or hotel restaurant before sailing, or even in a cab or ride share on their way to the cruise port.
Staying well hydrated (with non-alcoholic beverages), getting enough rest, eating healthy, and staying updated on any current vitamins or medications can also help cruisers be as healthy as possible as they prepare for and enjoy their cruise vacation.