Two more cruise lines under the Carnival Corporation & plc umbrella have confirmed that they have opted in to the voluntary CDC program: Holland America Line and Seabourn. Both cruise lines have updated their onboard protocols for guests, including face mask updates and pre-cruise testing options.
Holland America Line and Seabourn Opt In to CDC Program
On February 18, 2022, both Holland America Line and Seabourn made nearly identical announcements that they will participate in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated program for cruise ships operating in U.S. waters.
This comes just as Carnival Cruise Line, the largest cruise line in the world and namesake line of the Carnival Corporation, has confirmed its participation in the voluntary COVID-19 health and safety program as well.
As with Carnival Cruise Line, all changes will take effect as of March 1. While both Holland America Line and Seabourn will continue to operate vaccinated voyages, two major updates to health and safety protocols include masks and pre-cruise testing flexibility.
According to the announcements, “masks on board will be recommended but not required” and “additional flexibility for pre-cruising testing requirements will become available.”
“Since resuming operations, Holland America Line has created a safe and healthy environment on board for our guests and teams, helping cruising to become among the safest forms of socializing and travel,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line.
“With improving public health conditions, we are able to make these changes with confidence. We will continue to monitor the situation and are well-prepared to adjust to evolving circumstances while protecting the safety of our guests, team members and the communities we visit.”
Guests should note that while masks will be only recommended but not required as of March 1, both cruise lines do state that “there may be certain venues and events in which masks will still be required.” While onboard, guests are urged to pay close attention to signage in order to comply with masking requirements.
No further details are available about where onboard masks may be required, but it is likely that very popular events and venues, where crowds typically gather and space is limited, may still require masks.
Travelers should also note that masks continue to be required during embarkation and debarkation while passing through terminal facilities. All guests are also required to comply with local protocols in port, and different destinations may have different masking requirements for visitors.
Both Holland America and Seabourn require guests to provide a negative viral COVID-19 test result taken within the 2 days before sailing. If guests of either cruise line need a more recent test prior to returning to their home countries, the cruise line will provide that test at no charge.
Both lines are working to update their websites with these health and safety protocol changes, and booked guests should stay in close contact with the cruise line as well as their travel agent or advisor to be sure they meet the appropriate testing requirements before embarkation day.
Carnival Cruise Line has already announced that guests who are considered “up to date” on their vaccinations – which includes a booster shot if eligible – have 3 days, rather than 2, before sailing in which to take their COVID-19 test. This gives travelers a bit more flexibility about when and where to schedule this mandatory test.
While neither Holland America or Seabourn have yet adjusted the testing window for up-to-date guests, that information may yet be forthcoming. For now, passengers on both lines must test within 2 days before sailing.
Last Minute Announcement
The CDC gave cruise lines a deadline of February 18 to opt in or out of its COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships, and both Holland America and Seabourn, as well as Carnival, waited until just before that deadline expired to announce their decisions.
In fact, Holland America and Seabourn make their announcements within 10 minutes of each other, while Carnival Cruise Line had made its announcement just three hours earlier.
Princess Cruises, also owned by Carnival Corporation, also made a similar announcement and opted in to the program on February 18, less than two hours after the announcement from Carnival Cruise Line.
Other cruise lines operated by Carnival Corporation & plc – Cunard Line, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, P&O Cruises, and P&O Cruises (Australia) – do not largely operate within U.S. waters, and are not subject to the same guidance.