Cruise News Update: August 13, 2022

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It’s time to catch up on all the latest major cruise news, especially now that cruise lines have started to ease vaccine and testing requirements. Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean have all released big updates, along with developments on rockslides and cancellations.

Cruise News Update

We’ve had a busy week of cruise news and as expected, protocols have started to ease even further. Carnival Cruise Line has finally announced it will open up to unvaccinated guests, which we will get into later in the post. Princess Cruises is dropping the vaccine mandate for most sailings, Royal Caribbean is dropping the vaccine requirements from select homeports and pre-cruise testing is being dropped by two more Carnival-owned brands.

We’ve also got the latest developments on the rockslide in Skagway, which is impacting cruises, and news on cruise cancellations due to staff shortages.

Princess Cruises Relaxes Vaccine Requirement

We start with Princess Cruises, which announced on Friday that it’s removing the vaccine requirement for most sailings and eliminating pre-cruise testing for vaccinated guests.

Starting September 6, vaccinated guests sailing on a cruise of fewer than 16 days in length will no longer have to test before boarding. They just need to upload proof of their vaccination on the OceanReady app.

Discovery Princess Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Jeff Whyte / Shutterstock

Unvaccinated guests or those who do not provide proof of vaccination on those itineraries will only need to self-test within three days of sailing and upload evidence of a negative test before boarding to the Oceanready app. 

The new guidelines are for all sailings where government requirements allow the cruise line to implement these guidelines. The exceptions are cruises sailing to and/or from Canada, Greece, and Australia.

Royal Caribbean Protocol Updates

In the past week, Royal Caribbean announced a further easing of its protocols by dropping the vaccine requirements on select sailings from September 5, 2022. This easing applies to departures out of Los Angeles in California, Galveston in Texas, New Orleans in Louisiana, and cruises in Europe.

This now means that regardless of vaccination status, guests can cruise on the select sailings, as long as they meet any testing requirements.

For cruises out of Galveston and New Orleans that visit Grand Cayman, only passengers that show a valid vaccination record can go ashore. When it comes to the select European cruises, unvaccinated guests will have to take a test onboard to be allowed ashore in Greece or Spain.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Solarisys / Shutterstock

Guests will still need to follow the pre-cruise testing requirements. For departures five nights or less out of Los Angeles and Galveston, unvaccinated guests aged 2 and over must show a negative test result to sail. Vaccinated guests, regardless of age, no longer need to test for the shorter sailings.

When it comes to cruises that are six nights or more, all guests aged 2 and over must present a negative test result taken within three days before departure.

Testing requirements for sailings in Europe are unchanged. Royal Caribbean is finalizing the testing for departures out of New Orleans.

What’s notably missing are Eastern Caribbean cruises. Royal Caribbean said it was working with local governments in the Eastern Caribbean to align vaccination requirements for more itineraries.

Princess Cruises Cancellations

Princess Cruises has been forced to cancel a limited number of voyages for the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which includes departures out of San Diego, California. It comes as the cruise line is dealing with labor shortages while occupancy levels rise across its ships.

It does mean that the cruise line has canceled a total of 11 voyages for the Diamond Princess out of San Diego, from September 1, 2022, through November 13, 2022.

Diamond Princess Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Kevin Hellon / Shutterstock

Princess wants to make sure the guest experience onboard remains exceptional and by canceling the voyages, it allows more time to increase the crew levels.

The good news is impacted guests have the option for a replacement voyage departing in 2022 or 2023 but departing out of Los Angeles, California, rather than San Diego.

The vessel has already been on pause for more than two years, and before the announced cancellations, the ship was scheduled to resume sailings with guests on September 1, 2022, from San Diego. This included that first five-night voyage with visits to San Francisco in California and Ensenada in Mexico.

The ship’s first return voyage will now depart San Diego on November 13 on a seven-night itinerary.

Skagway Rockslides Impact Cruises

Another rockslide adjacent to the popular White Pass Railroad Dock in Skagway, Alaska, has caused damage and led to the full closure of the dock, which is expected to remain closed for the rest of the 2022 sailing season.

The most recent rockslide was on Friday, August 5, following a slide just two days earlier on August 3. Both rockslides caused damage to the White Pass Railroad Dock, and the latest slide caused significant damage to shipping containers placed along the length of the dock.

Skagway Rockslide
Photo Credit: Mark Mitford

With just two months remaining in the Alaska sailing season, Princess Cruises is removing Skagway from 10 upcoming itineraries. This is due to the closure of the forward berth of the White Pass Railroad Dock, the only viable docking position for the cruise line’s Royal-class vessels, the largest ships in the Princess Cruises fleet.

Rather than calling on Skagway, each cruise will instead substitute a different Alaskan port of call. The impacted cruises include the Majestic Princess, which will call at Icy Strait Point. Also, the line’s newest ship, Discovery Princess will be doing the same.

Royal Princess will now visit Haines instead of Skagway for the August 16 and August 30 sailings.

Discovery Princess will visit Sitka rather than Skagway on the cruises setting sail on August 11, September 8, and September 22, as will the Royal Princess cruise setting sail on September 13.

Carnival Removes Vaccine Requirement

It has been a long-awaited day for multiple Carnival-owned cruise brands, including Carnival Cruise Line, which will drop requirements on sailings.

Starting from departures on September 6, 2022, vaccinated guests no longer have to undergo a pre-cruise test to sail. However, guests will still need to show proof that they are fully vaccinated.

Carnival Cruise Ships
Photo Credit: LisaCarter / Shutterstock

Carnival is also making a major change to its vaccine requirements, which will open up cruises to more guests. Unvaccinated guests will be allowed to cruise and will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination before a cruise. However, this does not apply to sailings in Australia or on voyages 16 nights and longer.

Unvaccinated guests or those who choose not to show vaccination proof will still need a negative PCR or antigen test result taken within three days before departure.

Carnival also says that for those guests that do have a pending vaccine exemption application and waiting for a response, that booking is confirmed as long as the cruise is departing on or after September 6 and does not visit Canada, Bermuda, Australia, or if the voyage is 16 nights or longer.

P&O Cruises and Cunard Drop Testing

Cunard Line and P&O Cruises are easing their requirements for sailings from September 6, 2022, but only on shorter sailings where government regulations permit. In some embarkation ports, stricter local guidelines will still apply.

For both lines, testing for fully vaccinated passengers will become “highly recommended” rather than “required” as of Tuesday, September 6.

Cunard and P&O Cruise Ships
Photo Credit: Peter Titmuss / Shutterstock

Only on longer, more “complex” sailings will guests still be required to present a negative antigen or PCR test to be permitted to board. While exact details on what constitutes a “complex” sailing have not yet been clarified, the stricter requirements are likely to apply to itineraries 16 nights or longer, as well as certain holiday sailings.

Regions with stricter local protocols, at this time including Canada and Australia, still require testing, and guests booked on those sailings will be notified about their exact requirements for cruise travel.

To continue ensuring the health and wellbeing of guests and crew, both Cunard Line and P&O Cruises still require all guests ages 16 and older to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before embarkation. Crew members will also continue to be fully vaccinated and tested regularly.

More Cruise Headlines

It wasn’t just a busy week of cruise news but also an important one with all the easing of requirements. We’ve also got other news stories that may interest you, including a port cancellation for a Norwegian Cruise Line ship, Disney Cruise Line on the road to recovery mainly due to its newest ship, a business updated from Norwegian Cruise line Holdings, a major milestone for Carnival Cruise Line, Virgin Voyages is shortening port times on itineraries, plenty of investments happening at the Port of Galveston for cruises and loads more news.

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