MSC Cruises has announced it removed all vaccination and testing requirements for the vast majority of cruises sailing from the United States. The cruise line follows in the footsteps of cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean and Carnival, which introduced similar protocols in the last couple of weeks.
MSC Cruises was the first cruise line to resume sailings back in 2020 and did so under strict requirements that set the benchmark for the entire industry.
In the last year, we have slowly seen a return to normal, with most protocols being removed by all major cruise lines. MSC was the last major large cruise brand that still required testing for US Cruises.
All MSC Testing and Vaccination Protocols Removed
For sailings from the United States, guests cruising on an MSC cruise ship will no longer be required to provide proof of vaccination, nor do they need to provide any evidence of a negative test result.
There are exemptions. For example, cruises that include a call to the Colombian city of Cartagena. Colombia still requires cruise ship passengers to be tested before they are allowed to disembark if they cannot show proof of vaccination. For guests aged five and below, neither testing nor vaccination is required to enter Colombia.
The protocols are also slightly different for any cruises not sailing from a US port. If a guest boards an MSC Cruise ship in Europe, South America, the Middle East, or anywhere else except the US, the cruise line still has some requirements.
On shorter cruises, vaccination is recommended but not required on most cruises. Vaccinated guests do need to show proof of vaccination at embarkation and are recommended to test for COVID-19 before their vacation. Unvaccinated guests are always required to submit a negative test at embarkation.
On the longer Grand Voyages and the World Cruises, all guests must be fully vaccinated and must present proof of a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR or antigen test taken no more than 48 hours before embarkation.
This affects, in particular, guests sailing on a 21-day cruise from Miami to Rio De Janeiro on November 20 onboard MSC Seashore. Sailing from Miami, the ship will call at Ocean Cay and Nassau, Bahamas; the British Virgin Islands; Antigua; St. Maarten; Martinique; Barbados; Trinidad and Tobago; Salvador De Bahia, Buzios, and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Is Normal Cruising Back Again?
MSC Cruises is the latest cruise line to remove its testing and vaccination requirements, which most major cruise lines have already done in the last couple of weeks. It signals a return to normal onboard cruise ships, although some cruise lines do still require guests to wear masks on certain sailings.
The return to normal has been a long time coming. Since the CDC removed the voluntary program for cruise ships, the cruise lines have been steadily taking steps towards a more normal situation.
This started with removing testing before cruising for vaccinated guests, then removing the need for a vaccinated status before cruising but still requiring testing, and now the full removal of all protocols.
Is this the end of COVID protocols onboard cruise ships? Likely not. On the same day that MSC Cruises announced it would remove all protocols, Carnival Cruise Line took a step to bring back the wearing of masks for sailings in Australia onboard Carnival Splendor and Carnival Luminosa.