In a letter sent to booked guests, Norwegian Cruise Line has clarified its pre-cruise COVID-19 testing requirements and updated guests on vaccination requirements for children as well as the upcoming change in mask policies.
Instead of two COVID-19 tests prior to embarkation, guests will only need a single test starting on March 1, 2022, before setting sail on voyages. Limited exemptions for non-vaccinated young cruisers are available, and masks will no longer be required on U.S. sailings, but will still be recommended after March 1.
Only One Test Required
Guests sailing with Norwegian Cruise Line have previously been asked to take two pre-cruise COVID-19 tests, one 2-3 days before embarkation (depending on the embarkation port) and the other at the pier on embarkation day. Beginning on March 1, however, guests will only need a single test before embarking.
According to the letter, this lighter requirement “will allow for a more streamlined check-in process with minimal person-to-person contact and limited wait time.”
Norwegian Cruise Line does note, however, that testing requirements may vary for different itineraries. Guests will be notified of changes and requirements for their specific sailings as the information becomes available.
As of March 1, 2022, “guests will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen or PCR test result administered by a verified third party within two days prior to boarding for cruises originating in a U.S. port and three days prior for voyages departing from a non-U.S. port.” Medically supervised home tests are also acceptable, according to NCL’s SailSAFE guidelines.
While guests can make their own testing arrangements, testing will also be available at the pier if necessary. Guests who choose to test at the pier on embarkation day will be responsible for the testing costs, which can vary depending on the test provider and the embarkation port.
Limited Exemptions for Kids Under 5
Norwegian Cruise Line continues to require all guests ages 5 and older to be fully vaccinated before setting sail. The cruise line is making limited vaccination exemptions for children younger than 5, as they are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
The number of unvaccinated children permitted to sail is limited to less than 5% of the overall capacity of each ship, however, and can fluctuate on different sailings based on confirmed bookings.
Guests seeking a vaccination exemption for young cruisers should contact Norwegian Cruise Line as soon as possible to arrange the exemption. Regardless of passengers’ vaccination status, it is the responsibility of each guest to be aware of local protocols or travel restrictions in place at scheduled ports of call at the time of sailing.
Mask Mandates Removed, Only Recommended After March 1
Norwegian Cruise Line has also announced it will be removing its onboard mask-wearing requirements as of March 1, 2022.
The cruise line has explained its recommendation as “we recognize the added protections provided when wearing a mask covering and recommend that all guests do so onboard when indoors, except when actively eating or drinking, or seated at a table in a dining setting, or when in their stateroom.”
Guests are also asked to wear masks outdoors when physical distancing isn’t possible, but ultimately, indoors and outdoors, “the decision to wear a mask covering when onboard is at the discretion of each guest.”
Masks will become optional only on sailings from U.S. embarkation ports. Masks continue to be required onboard Norwegian ships for all European cruises at this time, and no announcement has been made about when that policy may change.
All cruise lines, including Norwegian, continue to refine and adjust their onboard policies, testing requirements, and other health and safety protocols as pandemic conditions continue to evolve. Cruise lines are continually working with local authorities at ports of call to ensure safe visits, and prospective passengers should always stay in close communication with their cruise line to be up-to-date on requirements that may impact their cruise getaways.