For those waiting for cruise lines to drop the vaccine requirement for cruises from the United States, it seems they will have to wait a lot longer. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings extended its vaccine mandate policy for the foreseeable future, company President and CEO Frank Del Rio announced this week.
Some guests received letters from their travel agents that this would be in place through April 2022. But, it could well be a lot longer than that as the cruise line has been one of the frontrunners when it concerns requiring guests to be fully vaccinated before boarding.
Norwegian Cruise Line Extends Vaccine Mandate
While it may not be the news that some people were looking for, yet with more and more vaccine mandates coming into play worldwide, it would have been unlikely that Norwegian wouldn’t follow suit. On its website, Norwegian states the following:
Given the continued public health concerns and our commitment to protecting guests, crew, and the communities we visit, we are extending our vaccination policy requirement for the foreseeable future.
In the meantime, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings President and CEO Frank Del Rio believes the company has the edge over the competition with the strict requirements the company demands from its guests.
Frank Del Rio said this week during the company’s 3rd quarter earnings call: “We have indefinitely extended our 100% vaccination requirement. I think that today that continues to be a competitive advantage for our three brands.”
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NCLH, parent company to Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Oceania Cruises, initially instituted the 100% vaccination requirement in April and extended it through to the end of the year in August.
No Exceptions For Minors
One significant aspect of the NCLH vaccine mandate is that kids are not exempted. If those younger than 18 years old have not been vaccinated, they will not sail. Of course, this does not mean they cannot sail at all after the FDA and CDC recently approved vaccines for those five years old and up, while younger guests could be approved next year as well.
Del Rio: The approval of vaccines for children ages 5 to 11, which came just last night and will allow for an expanded group of 100% vaccinated guests, especially families, to sail on our brand. My understanding is that sometime in Q1, the same vaccination approval will be given for up to four-year-olds.”
Requirements Do Bring Benefits
The cruise company now requires all of its guests onboard one of the ships sailing for one of the NCLH cruise lines that they must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before departure, provide their vaccination status before sailing, and all guests must present proof of vaccination at the pier at embarkation to board.
While discussions about the mandates will go on for the foreseeable future, there is no denying the apparent benefits of sailing with a fully vaccinated and tested group of guests and crew.
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Guests onboard the Norwegian ships do not have to wear a mask anywhere onboard, at any time. Neither do guests have to worry about social distancing during busy settings. Dining can be done mask-free as well, with all restaurants open as usual. This includes self-service buffets as well as a la carte restaurants.