Where Do the Major Three Cruise Lines Stand on Vaccine Requirements?

Find where Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line currently stand on vaccine requirements for guests.

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In the mass of news reports coming out in recent weeks, it’s easy to lose track of what cruise line requires a vaccination or which does not. The three biggest cruise lines have been busy ironing out their vaccination requirements.

Yet, Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line all have different mandates. There are even requirements for different ships sailing in different regions of the United States and worldwide.

We shed light on what each cruise line requires and which ships do or do not require a mandatory vaccination to be able to sail onboard.

Carnival Cruise Line

America’s Cruise Line President Christine Duffy has been quite vocal about not requiring vaccinations onboard the Carnival cruise ships. Instead, the cruise line wanted to focus on measures to mitigate the risk of infection onboard the ships.

However, in quite the turnaround, Christine Duffy announced this week on Good Morning America that she thinks the cruise line will be mandating vaccines for its guests onboard all ships.

Although the cruise line has decided to conduct test or simulated voyages, guests will then still need to be vaccinated. Christine Duffy said the protocols from the CDC do not allow Carnival Cruise Line to provide the guest experience that they would like to.

Carnival Cruise line Funnel
Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive

Christine Duffy said, “While there is a path for unvaccinated guests we really don’t think that the protocols allow us to deliver the guest experience that we want to be able to deliver. So, I think right now it looks like people will have to be vaccinated, but, again, the great news is that 50% of the adults have been vaccinated in the US.”

Carnival Cruise Line is heavily dependent on families with children cruising aboard its ships. Something that a vaccination mandate could make impossible at this point, especially for families with children younger than 12-years old. However, the cruise line is also looking into this:

We are still hopeful that we will be able to further evolve and see these guidelines that will allow families with children under 12 who are not eligible (ed. For a vaccination). We are optimistic that we will be able to, eventually, welcome all of our families onboard.

Duffy continued to say the cruise line is looking into the process of how guests would be able to prove they have indeed been vaccinated. Technological solutions by which guests could upload their proof of vaccination are being looked at by the cruise line; however, it could come down to guests having to show proof in the terminal before boarding.

While Carnival had already mandated vaccination proof on their voyages to Alaska onboard Carnival Miracle, it seems that the cruise line will be expanding its mandate to all ships in the fleet.

The cruise line did announce today it would be requiring vaccinations for its sailings onboard Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze sailing out of Galveston. Sailings onboard Carnival Horizon are still under discussion between the cruise line, the state of Florida, and the CDC. Read more about this development here.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean has been firmly in favor of sailing with vaccinated guests until last week. Royal Caribbean changed the wording on its website last week to vaccinations being ‘Strongly Recommended.’

Does this mean the cruise line is doing away with vaccines? No, not entirely.

Docked Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships
Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock.com

Richard Fain, the Royal Caribbean parent company President and CEO, said this in a video message last week: “Royal Caribbean International is likely to take a somewhat different route. Like our other brands, everyone who’s eligible for a vaccine will be expected to have one. However, children under 12 can’t yet get the shot. And Royal Caribbean International carries a lot of families. Families are important to us. On these cruises, we may not reach the ninety five percent threshold, but even here the vast majority will be vaccinated.”

The company is still requiring vaccinations on its cruises to Alaska from Seattle and Bahamas cruises. All other voyages from the United States are now moved to the strongly recommended status. The company website now states the following:

For Cruises Departing from Seattle or The Bahamas guests age 16 and older departing from Seattle and Nassau, Bahamas on Serenade of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, or Adventure of the Seas 2021 cruises must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 at the time of sailing. Starting August 1, the age requirement for vaccination changes from 16 to 12 years of age. Guests under the age of this requirement don’t need to be vaccinated and will receive a SARS-Cov-2 test before boarding.

For guests on cruises from other international ports, the cruise line still requires guests to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before the sailing date.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line has made things a little easier on itself. With a guest profile somewhat older than guests onboard the competition’s ships, the cruise line can mandate a vaccine quite easily.

For months now, the cruise line has said it would only set sail with 100% vaccinated guests and crew onboard its ships. The cruise line is mandating mandatory vaccinations for all onboard for all voyages through October 31, 2021, according to the website:

All guests and crew must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before departure, in order to board. Guest vaccination requirements are currently for all sailings embarking through October 31, 2021- we will follow the science to make determinations on requirements for all other future sailings.

Norwegian Cruise Line Ship Funnel
Photo Credit: ackats / Shutterstock.com

For Norwegian Cruise Line, these rules seem to be set in stone and will not change. Company President and CEO Frank Del Rio has spoken out repeatedly on the issues, even threatening to pull his ships out of Florida if the State does not allow the cruise line to make a mandate.

NCLH President and CEO Frank Del Rio: “At the end of the day, cruise ships have motors, propellers and rudders, and God forbid we can’t operate in the State of Florida for whatever reason, then there are other states that we do operate from. And we can operate from the Caribbean for ships that otherwise would’ve gone to Florida.”

As it stands, the situation is that Carnival has reverted to mandating vaccines, Royal Caribbean has reverted to not requiring them, and Norwegian Cruise Line remains on the same course. This could all change quite suddenly if Florida Governor DeSantis’ bill banning vaccine mandates is pushed through or dropped altogether.

For now, the cruise lines seem to focus on different solutions that they believe will suit them best. Which one will come out on top, and chose the correct measures we will know before the end of the month. Keep following Cruise Hive for the last updates on this crucial subject.


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