Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has extended its policy that requires all passengers and crew members onboard to be 100% vaccinated. The policy was set to expire by the end of October but has now been extended through December 31, at least.
The cruise line currently does not allow kids under twelve years of age to board their vessels, as they are not eligible for a vaccine just yet. This is something the cruise line hopes will change in the coming months, especially with the busy Christmas and New Year’s cruises coming up, a time when many families cruise together. However, according to the cruise company, it is not a reason to change the 100% vaccination policy.
Are Norwegian’s Cruise Ships the Safest Place on Earth?
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) President and CEO Frank Del Rio believes the policies Norwegian has implemented throughout the three cruise lines the company operates makes the ships the safest places on Earth.
NCLH requires each and every guest and crew member on board the Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas, and Oceania Cruises ships to be fully vaccinated 14 days before sailing. Furthermore, all guests will be required to take a COVID-19 antigen test, administered and paid for by the cruise line, before boarding.
Frank Del Rio, the company’s president, and CEO, told USA TODAY:
“That one-two punch is ironclad. No one can argue that being on a cruise ship under those conditions is not the safest place on Earth.”
In return for being fully vaccinated and tested, guests can enjoy a range of freedoms onboard the ships that go much further than what other companies offer at this time. They include a mask-free cruise, no need for social distancing, all outlets onboard the ship are open to everyone, no restrictions on dining including self-service buffets, and no restrictions on going ashore.
Many cruise lines have opted lately for a policy of restricted access to vaccinated passengers in some areas, while other cruise lines still require the use of masks on board the ships at all times.
While the extension of the vaccine requirements will be welcome news for many booked onboard Norwegian’s ships, the cruise line does exclude all children below the age of 12 with this measure. This will not be welcome news for families booked onboard before the New Year.
Christine Da Silva, vice president of communication and events for Norwegian Cruise Line said this:
“Under the guidance of globally recognized public health experts and to prioritize the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit, we have decided to extend guest vaccination requirements for all sailings through December 31, 2021. However, we eagerly await an expansion of the age criteria for vaccinations by the US Food and Drug Administration so we can once again welcome these guests back on board,”
So far, Both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech launched trials of their Covid-19 vaccines for kids under 12 in March. Results are expected around September or October, and it will take FDA officials time to review the drug companies’ applications. The expectation is that approval will not come before mid-winter.
So far, Norwegian Cruise Line is sailing from the United States with Norwegian Gem from Florida and with Norwegian Encore from Seattle. In September, Regent Seven Seas will commence operations from the UK with its newest ship, Seven Seas Splendor, and Oceania Cruises will start sailing from Copenhagen with Marina at the end of this month.