Azamara has announced it will no longer require COVID-19 testing. The cruise line said that although it does not require guests to be tested before a voyage, it could still be that the departure port requires it from the ships.
The new guidelines will be in effect from July 25 onwards. Other measures that are in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 onboard, such as vaccination requirements, will remain.
Azamara Announces Removal Of COVID-19 Embarkation Testing
Following the announcement from the CDC that the COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships has ended, several cruise lines will be making provisions on how to deal with the new situation.
The first cruise line to announce changes since yesterday’s announcement is Azamara. The company sent out a statement today saying it will no longer require guests to get tested before a cruise.
“The easing of our testing policy marks a step in the right direction towards a return to normalcy for the travel and cruising industry,” said President of Azamara, Carol Cabezas. “Cruising is one of the safest ways to travel, and our existing health and safety protocols onboard will ensure peace of mind for our guests and crew as we move forward.”
While many will be happy with the news, it does not mean guests are cleared of all requirements. Many ports worldwide do still require cruise ships to mandate testing before embarking on a cruise ship.
Of the upcoming homeports for Azamara, this includes Athens, Miami, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and more. Guests can still get tested voluntarily before sailing from all other ports.
Guests are also encouraged to get tested regardless of whether it is a requirement from the departure port or not. However, it does not make any mandates on how many days before the cruise this would need to be done. If required, Azamara will continue to provide testing capabilities onboard.
To ensure the health and safety of its guests and crew, Azamara will still require proof of vaccination before embarkation. This includes all guests aged 12 years and older, with the final doses administered at least 14 days prior to the cruise.
Will More Cruise Lines Follow?
The announcement from Azamara comes after the CDC announced the end of the voluntary program for cruise ships. This news will likely trigger multiple changes in procedures and protocols around the industry.
Azamara is also not alone in changing protocols. In the last weeks and months, several other cruise lines announced the same. Viking was the first to do so, quickly followed by Norwegian Cruise Line, P&O, and Holland America; as is the case with Azamara, these new procedures are only in place for select destinations.
Cruise lines will likely be looking at what is possible for cruises from the United States. However, keep in mind that the cruise companies will be bound on what is required by the multiple destinations nearby, in particular in the Caribbean.
So far, Belize is the only country in the region that has abolished all mandates for cruise ships. Getting all destinations in line regarding testing and vaccination requirements will take time.
It seems inevitable that more changes are coming. What changes will depend entirely on the evaluation cruise companies will make. It will include what removing protocols will do to the health and safety of guests and crew and, perhaps as important, public perception.