Carnival-Owned Cruise Line Temporarily Drops Pre-Departure Testing

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P&O Cruises, the largest UK-based cruise line, temporarily removes the testing mandate for at least one ship. The Carnival Corporation-owned cruise line operates cruises mainly from the UK, where the government removed entry requirements to come into the country on March 18, 2022.

By removing the testing requirements for one vessel, for a limited amount of time, the cruise line hopes to create a basis to expand the no-testing throughout the fleet further.

P&O Cruises Removes Testing Requirements For Iona

In a letter to guests, P&O Cruises announced it would remove the need to get tested before a cruise onboard its Excellence-class cruise ship Iona. This would only be for a limited amount of time, from 25 June to 23 July 2022. 

During the five voyages in this period, any guests considered fully vaccinated will no longer need to purchase or take a lateral flow (antigen) test before boarding the ship.

Cruise Terminal Testing
Photo Credit: Matt Bannister / Shutterstock

The letter from P&O to guests states the following: “As the health protocols for COVID-19 continue to evolve across the world, P&O Cruises will be changing its policy on Iona to remove the pre-departure testing for all guests.”

“You can rest assured that the protection of your health and well-being is, as always, very important to us and we still have a number of protocols in place to help you relax and enjoy your holiday.”

The voyages in question are departures on June 25, July 2, July 9, July 16, and July 23. All cruises have the same itinerary. Sailing from Southampton, the ship will call at Stavanger, Olden, Hellesylt, Geiranger, and Haugesund, Norway, before returning home to the UK.

First Carnival Corporation Cruise Line To Remove Testing

The removal of testing onboard one of the newest cruise ships in the P&O Cruises and Carnival Corporation fleet can be considered a massive surprise. However, the choice for Iona is indeed well-considered.

First, the lack of entry restrictions into the UK leaves space for P&O Cruises to remove the testing mandate. The cruise line is only removing the testing for vaccinated guests. 

Any non-vaccinated guests will still need to adhere to the testing requirements. This includes all guests over the age of 12. Guests aged 16 years and over will also need to have a booster shot if more than 270 days have passed since their final dose.

P&O Iona Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Christopher Ison / P&O Cruises

Also, Iona is sailing on a series of short cruises, which all have the same itinerary. This gives the cruise line the chance to evaluate each voyage and see if there is a basis for expanding the policy to other ships in the fleet. 

It does make sense then that P&O Cruises would be the first cruise line in the Carnival Corporation group of companies to remove the testing policies. If successful, it will also provide a significant data set for Carnival Corporation cruise line to use as a tool to convince the CDC to take the same steps in the United States. 

Will We See More Changes In The Cruise Industry?

P&O Cruises is not the first cruise line to remove testing for vaccinated guests. Last week, Viking made the same choice, although under strict conditions and not for cruises sailing from the United States.

The move from P&O Cruises comes after several changes have been introduced across the tourism industry in recent weeks. There has been the news around the dropping of testing for incoming international flights to the US, and Celebrity Cruises removing a vaccine requirement for under 18’s.

While these changes are not significant by themselves, they do point toward a bigger change that could be coming in the upcoming months. However, according to the CDC, that could be a while.

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