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

Find where each of the three major cruise lines currently stand with vaccine requirements to help you prepare for a cruise vacation in the near future.

Most cruise lines now have or will be starting up operations very soon; however, per cruise line, the requirements regarding vaccinations differ.

From 100% vaccinated sailings, the 95% rule, differences between sailings in states such as Washington vs. Florida and different countries, Canadian guests that have been vaccinated with two different technologies, testing requirements, and even additional insurance costs for those that have not been vaccinated, the differences can become confusing.

We look at what the three largest cruise operators require from guests sailing from Florida, outside of Florida, and for sailings in the Mediterranean, UK, and the Caribbean.

Carnival Cruise Line

Many were surprised a few months back to hear that Carnival Cruise Line implemented a vaccination mandate onboard its ships. But so far, the plans the company has laid out are working, and guests have come back heaping praise on the company’s ability to bring cruises back on a reasonably normal level. Despite the vaccine mandate, a passenger who has not been vaccinated can still sail, although some rules and regulations govern this.

Mardi Gras Departing Miami
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

Vaccine Requirment Highlights:

  • Carnival requires guests to be vaccinated and will only sail if at least 95% of the guests have been vaccinated. This includes sailings from Florida and every other homeport the company operates.
  • Unvaccinated Carnival guests who don’t show proof of the vaccine will not be allowed to board and will not receive a refund.
  • Guests who have not been vaccinated can request an exemption; however, Carnival has been clear these exemptions are meant for kids and teenagers not eligible for vaccinations. Canadian guests who have been fully vaccinated but not in a way recognized by the CDC through mixed vaccine shots can be exempted, and guests who for medical or other reasons cannot be vaccinated as well. Other exemptions have been noted but are rare.
  • Those guests who have not been vaccinated will need to comply with a range of extra measures, including testing before the voyage and testing onboard, which will add another $150 to the voyage cost.
  • On July 31, every unvaccinated passenger of 12-years-old or older will have to show proof of travel insurance, which has to cover at least $10,000 in medical expenses and $30,000 in “emergency medical evacuation and without COVID-19 exclusions.”

Although the measures seem strict and specifically aimed at keeping unvaccinated guests off the ships, these measures mean that guests have significant freedom onboard. Vaccinated guests do not have to wear masks anywhere inside the ships, there is no limitation of movement, and neither do guests have to adhere to any social distancing measures.

In fact, by creating a bubble of vaccinated and thoroughly tested individuals, Carnival is bringing cruising back to the usual standards that guests are used to from before.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean has taken a different route than its main competitor. The cruise line has decided to sail on so-called test voyages, so cruises from the US are accessible to both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests. The cruise line also ensures that it does not have to adhere to the 95% rule.

That being said, the reality is somewhat different. Royal Caribbean has made clear that the ability for unvaccinated individuals to sail does not mean the cruise line will make it easy. Also, this policy is only in place in the US; for cruises from other countries, the cruise line has different rules again.

Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

Vaccine Requirment Highlights:

  • For cruises sailing from Florida, guests do not need to show proof of vaccination. However, starting August 1, if guests decide not to show proof, Royal Caribbean Florida cruise passengers 12-years-old or older will have to show proof of travel insurance. The insurance must have a minimum of $25,000 in medical expense coverage and $50,000 for “quarantine and medical evacuation related to a positive COVID-19 test result” per person.
  • On top of insurance payments, unvaccinated cruisers and guests unwilling to show proof of vaccination will also have to pay for COVID-19 tests; these amount to $136 or $178, depending on how long the cruise is.
  • Royal Caribbean has made certain areas of the ships available to all guests, while other areas of the ship are not accessible to unvaccinated guests. For example, on Serenade of the Seas, the Pub, the Diamond Club, Casino and Casino Bar, and more venues are not accessible if not fully vaccinated. Check Royal Caribbean’s website for a complete listing of venues open or closed to unvaccinated individuals on each vessel.
  • Canadian guests vaccinated with two different shots like Moderna and AstraZeneca are not considered fully vaccinated for cruises from the United States. They are considered fully vaccinated for cruises from outside the United States.
  • For cruises from the UK and in the Mediterranean, all guests must be fully vaccinated.
  • For cruises from Singapore, guests are bound to the rules from the Singapore government, which include an intensive testing requirement, but no vaccine requirements. These cruises are available only to Singapore residents.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line has been clear on where it stands on vaccine requirements. All guests and crew members must be fully vaccinated, no matter from where the ship sets sail.

Norwegian Cruise Ship at Port of Miami
Photo Credit: Ovidiu Curic / Shutterstock.com

The company’s website says the following: All guests and crew must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before departure 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.

There is some uncertainty on whether the cruise line will be able to execute this requirement for cruises from Florida. Florida and Norwegian Cruise Line are in a legal dispute that revolves around the issue of vaccine mandates. For now, the cruise line remains steadfast in its policies, and will undoubtedly adopt these policies from all other homeports such as in Seattle or cruises in Europe, the UK, and the Caribbean.


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