In a letter sent to booked guests and travel partners, Norwegian Cruise Line has outlined its expectations for upcoming sailings and advises guests of possible last-minute modifications. While no major policy change is announced, this letter is similar to those sent by other cruise lines to help guests be aware of the fluidity of cruise travel at the moment.
Norwegian Cruise Line Explains Guidelines
In the letter, Norwegian Cruise Line highlights that since returning to service with Norwegian Jade in July 2021, the cruise line has hosted approximately 250,000 guests. No COVID-19 case numbers for recent sailings are provided, but the letter goes on to state that “our commitment to the health and safety of our guests, our crew, and the destinations we visit is unwavering” and details the cruise line’s Sail Safe protocols.
Those protocols, which are updated as necessary, include:
- Mandatory 100% vaccination policy for guests and crew at least two weeks before sailing
- Universal pre-embarkation testing of guests at the terminal
- Mask requirements on board in indoor venues and crowded outdoor spaces through January 31, 2022
- Hospital-grade air filtration systems on all ships in the Norwegian fleet
- Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing of all common areas
- Mandatory isolation of any COVID-19 positive guests and close contacts
Other health and safety protocols are also in place and may be adjusted as per local guidelines, restrictions, and recommendations.
Situation Constantly Evolving
The letter goes on to explain that the current cruise situation is continually evolving, and guests should be prepared for the possibility of last-minute changes. The letter states:
“Destinations may suddenly modify their travel requirements and restrictions, requiring us to revise our itineraries and potentially skip scheduled ports of call. Furthermore, under certain circumstances onboard services may be impacted or limited to provide the safest environment possible. As always, we will do our very best to communicate any changes with you as soon as the information becomes available, however, many of these modifications may come at very short notice, or even during the voyage.”
While details are not given, it has become common in the last few weeks on every cruise line that staffing changes due to crew isolation periods have impacted entertainment offerings and other onboard activities. Furthermore, as different ports of call modify their entry requirements due to caseload changes, many cruises have made last-minute itinerary changes if scheduled ports are no longer available.
While no compensation is being offered for these types of changes, Norwegian Cruise Line does state in the letter that “in situations where a required itinerary change shortens the length of your cruise, we will provide you a prorated refund to the original form of payment.”
Such a refund will not apply for a missed port if guests enjoy a day at sea instead, but will apply if the entire voyage is shortened.
Different compensation options are also available for suspended sailings, such as for the eight Norwegian vessels that had cruises recently canceled.
When Will Cruising Return to Normal?
For months, eager cruisers have been wondering when “normal” cruising may resume. At this time, with new cases of the Omicron variant still rising in different parts of the world and the potential that new COVID-19 variants may still emerge, there is no telling when cruise lines, homeports, or ports of call may lessen restrictions or lower requirements for travel.
For some cruisers, that may mean choosing to wait for their next cruise, while other travelers can happily adjust to the current situation. Whichever passengers decide, it is best to remain flexible with travel plans, stay updated on current requirements, and be prepared to take changes in stride no matter when you set sail.