Norwegian Cruise Line is implementing more restrictive health and safety protocols, including requiring tests, for some passengers on all its ships through the end of January 2023.
The new protocols apply only to guests who have recently visited mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau, or hold passports from those countries, but are applicable to all Norwegian Cruise Line ships and sailings regardless of embarkation port or itinerary.
Protocols Being Tightened
Norwegian Cruise Line is tightening its health and safety protocols for guests, but only for those passengers who have visited mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau within 10 days of embarking on a cruise, or if guests hold passports from those countries cannot provide proof that they have not visited the regions in the past 10 days.
“As a result of growing concerns regarding COVID-19 in China, and recently implemented travel restrictions by several countries including the United States, we are proactively implementing preventative health and safety measures for all sailings embarking between Jan. 5 – Jan. 31, 2023,” the email states.
This means that all of Norwegian Cruise Line’s 18 ships will be using these tighter protocols, but only for guests from the listed countries or who hold the listed passports.
The enhanced protocols include the following:
- Guests must be fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 with an approved World Health Organization vaccine prior to boarding.
- Guests must submit a medically supervised, negative test result taken within 48 hours prior to boarding.
- Guests will be required to take a medically supervised PCR test at the embarkation port within 8 hours of embarkation.
- Further tests will be administered every 48 hours onboard until 10 days have passed since the guest’s last time in the restricted countries.
Expenses related to required tests are guests’ responsibility. Onboard testing is currently offered at $99 (USD) per person, per test.
“We apologize for any inconvenience caused by these measures and thank our guests for their continued understanding as we work to protect the health, safety, and well-being of our guests, crew, and communities we visit worldwide,” the email concludes.
It should be noted that there have been no large-scale outbreaks of COVID-19 reported aboard any Norwegian Cruise Line ship, and these measures are being taken out of an abundance of caution to protect everyone aboard.
In addition to the pre-cruise and recurrent testing onboard, Norwegian Cruise Line continues to maintain other onboard health and safety protocols to minimize the risk of transmission.
Crew members continue to frequently clean and sanitize each ship with EPA-approved disinfectants, and upgraded air filtration is installed onboard Norwegian vessels. Ships’ medical centers have been upgraded and have additional staffing to assist with potential situations.
Should guests test positive while onboard, contact tracing is used to notify other guests as needed, as well as to minimize the potential spread, and that quarantine measures are available.
At this time, there is no indication that Norwegian Cruise Line will be reinstituting mandatory mask-wearing onboard any ships, though guests are welcome to wear masks if they prefer.
Guests should also note that health and safety protocols are subject to change at any time, even last-minute before embarkation, and booked guests should stay in close contact with the cruise line and their travel agent via email, phone, and text message for updates as necessary.
While China and other areas of Asia have maintained much stricter protocols and lockdowns in the past two years, particularly as other parts of the world have eased restrictions over time, those areas are now gradually reopening. This has led to a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases as isolation ends and travel restarts.
In particular, cases have been spiking throughout the popular travel holiday period since late November, as groups gather once more and infections can spread more easily.
Any traveler should review the health and safety protocols of the destinations they may be visiting to ensure they are in compliance with all requirements, and take additional precautions such as social distancing, mask-wearing, extra sanitizing, or canceling travel as they feel necessary.