On Thursday, February 4, 2021, while the industry was reacting to the surprising year-long cruise ban issued by Canada, some cruisers spotted new health policy changes from Carnival Cruise Line. This is a clear sign of what’s to come and how the cruise experience will change during the global pandemic.
Carnival Cruise Line Health Protocols
Carnival Cruise Line has been busy implementing new health protocols and working on a safe return to operations. We know the cruise line has been very busy during the suspension and dealing with the details of the CDC’s framework on the Conditional Sailing Order.
On Thursday, it was spotted that Carnival updated its website with new policy procedures. As part of this change, new health procedures are detailed, which now gives us an idea of what’s ahead for when cruises resume.
The health policy has been developed with guidance from authorities in the United States and around the world including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
Carnival has made it clear that guests will need to follow the policies and procedures and that these requirements could change with no notice. Knowing how fluid the situation is, this could be likely as the pandemic continues to evolve.
So let’s take a quick look at the procedures which can be read fully on the official website, especially if you’re planning a Carnival cruise this year!
Before and During Embarkation
It comes as no surprise that guests need to get their documents in order before even arriving at the terminal. This could include testing history and any COVID-19 exposure.
Health screening will be a major part of keeping cruisers safe. A health questionnaire needs to be completed 72 hours before departure. This is to identify any symptoms of COVID-19 and any contact with individuals confirmed to have COVID-19 before the cruise.
This will be fully checked, and Carnival could even require guests to provide more details or to submit to tissue sampling and/or a medical examination. Temperature checks could be required if needed before embarkation.
Guests will need to check-in online and choose their arrival time at the terminal. Arriving at the terminal is going to be specific to the chosen time to facilitate social distancing.
All guests 2 years old and older must take a SARS-CoV-2 test between 5 days to 24 hours before the date of embarkation and must receive a negative result.
Guests must provide the original document confirming a legible negative test result, identifying the approved and licensed testing entity, sample collection date, type of test, and the tested individual’s identity.
Carnival could do further testing at the terminal or even onboard. Any guest with a positive result will not be able to cruise. If the correct documents are also not present, the cruise line can refuse boarding with no refund.
Once on Board
Once on the ship, the protocols remain strict, and guests will have to undergo daily temperature checks and submit to any requested medical screening during the voyage.
Carnival details that hand sanitizers, wipes, and hand washing locations will be all around the ship and in terminals. This was already common on cruise ships before the pandemic but no doubt will now be more widespread with more locations and enforcement.
Carnival says this should especially be done before or after eating or drinking and after participating in recreational activities.
Face masks onboard are essential and guests will need to wear one when around the ship except in their stateroom, sitting down dining, or when using the cardio equipment at the gym. Guests also have to wear masks when outside on the open decks.
The cruise line may use a reservation system to maintain social distancing. In public venues, there will be capacity limits such as at the pools, casinos, restaurants, bars, and most public areas. In the main theater there will be spaced seating arrangements and it will be the same at dining venues. There will be no self-service at the buffet.
Contact tracing is important if there is any outbreak so guests may be required to provide information about certain activities they are involved in during the cruise. Carnival says that wearables could be used along with video surveillance technology and photos taken during the voyage to track people.
Port of Calls
When it comes to going ashore things start to get complicated and the way we used to enjoy a port of call could be changed. Guests can only book tours which have been vetted by the cruise line and may not be permitted off the ship without a tour booking.
Shoreside visits may just be limited to just the initial port area with self-exploration not possible and cruisers won’t be able to arrange their own shore excursions.
Carnival could cancel a scheduled call depending on the level of cases in the local area the ships sail to. Port times could change or even further limits on tours to make sure guests don’t get infected in the port.
It was expected and it will undoubtedly be similar situations for all major cruise lines that operate out of the U.S. in the near future. CDC protocols need to be followed but as the vaccines continue to roll out we’re hoping the measures could be reduced in time and a greater sense of normalcy could return to cruise vacations.
It is important to know that if you’re planning a Carnival cruise any time soon you’ll have to follow the policies in place. The cruise experience is not going to be what it was before the pandemic.
There is also an FAQ provided by Carnival Cruise Line for those with further questions on things such as paying for a COVID test and the use of amenities onboard, you can take a look here.