In response to the emerging Omicron variant, more and more cruise lines update their health and safety guidelines onboard. The following cruise line to do so is Princess Cruises. Part of Carnival Corporation, the Los Angeles-based cruise line, sent out a letter to guests informing them of the changes.
Princess Cruises had a mask mandate in place for cruises of 10 days or longer, but this has now been extended to include all cruises of any length. The second change the line made is banning smoking in the casino, effective immediately.
Following recent announcements from Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises is the next to implement strict measures to avoid possible outbreaks onboard its ships.
Although the cruise line has been reasonably successful in keeping COVID of its ships in the last months, the onboard measures have been designed to change if necessary:
“Princess Cruises is dedicated to the health and safety of our guests, our team, and the communities we visit. Our CruiseHealth protocols and procedures have proven very effective during our restart and have been developed in consultation with medical experts. They are designed to be adaptable as the current public health situation evolves.”
All guests onboard already had to follow a mask mandate if they were on a cruise of 10-days or longer, as well as guidelines for vaccinations and pre-cruise testing. Masks had to be worn on shorter cruises in certain areas of the vessel. The mandate for masks has now been amended to include a surgical mask or KN95 mask inside the ship at all times and wearing of masks outdoors with exceptions.
The measures come as Omicron is becoming more prevalent in the United States and Europe, the main areas of operation for the cruise line. The letter sent to guests states the following:
“All guests are required to wear masks at all times when indoors, except when eating or drinking or when in their own staterooms. We request masks also be worn outdoors if in large gatherings and physical distance cannot be maintained; they are required during embark, debark and when on transportation. Health experts recommend using a higher-grade mask when indoors such as surgical or KN95.”
Princess Cruises also implemented a smoking ban inside the casino onboard all of its ships, effective immediately. The measure is designed to ensure guests do not remove their masks inside the casino under the pretense of smoking a cigarette. Guests who wish to smoke onboard will need to go to a dedicated smoking area outside on the open decks.
While the letter sent to guests states that the measures are in place through January 31, 2022, the company website has been updated, and here the date states that these measures will be in place through March 31, 2022.
Whether the measures implemented by the various cruise lines will prove sufficient remains to be seen; already, we are seeing multiple cruises canceled in Europe due to the fears of spreading Omicron further. Of course, a significant outbreak onboard a ship is something that all cruise lines will want to avoid at all costs.