Carnival Welcomes Unvaccinated Guests to Sail, Drops Pre-Cruise Testing for Vaccinated

Carnival Welcomes Unvaccinated Guests to Sail, Drops Pre-Cruise Testing for Vaccinated
A view of the Royal-class cruise ship "Sky Princess" operated by Bermuda-based Princess Cruises of Carnival Corp., off the coast of Cyprus' southern city of Limassol, on March 30, 2021. (Amir Makar/AFP via Getty Images)
Lorenz Duchamps

The largest cruise line company in the world will start allowing unvaccinated guests to sail on one of their cruise ships and has updated its COVID-19 testing protocols for vaccinated passengers

Carnival Corp. announced in updated protocols on Friday that the new guidelines will make it easier for guests to sail with simplified COVID-19 vaccination and testing guidelines and will eliminate the exemption request process for unvaccinated guests, who will only need to show a negative test at embarkation.
The following guidelines will be in effect for cruises departing on Sept. 6, or later:
  • Vaccinated guests must continue to provide evidence of their vaccination status prior to embarkation. Pre-cruise testing is no longer required, except for cruises to Canada, Bermuda, Greece, and Australia (per local guidelines), and on sailings 16 nights or longer.
  • Unvaccinated guests are welcome to sail and are no longer required to apply for a vaccine exemption, except for cruises in Australia or on voyages 16 nights and longer.
  • Unvaccinated guests, or those who do not provide proof of vaccination, must present the results of a negative PCR or antigen test that was taken within three days of embarkation.
  • Guests under the age of five years are exempt from vaccination and testing requirements from the United States and under the age of 12 from Australia.
  • All policies are subject to local destination regulations.
  • Voyages 16 nights and longer will continue to have vaccination and testing requirements that are specific to the itinerary.
The company noted that for guests who have an application pending for COVID-19 vaccine exemption and are awaiting confirmation for cruises departing on Sept. 6 or later, the booking is confirmed unless booked on a sailing that calls on Canada, Bermuda, Australia, or if the voyage is 16 nights or longer.
“Our ships have been sailing very full all summer, but there is still room for more of our loyal guests, and these guidelines will make it a simpler process, and make cruising accessible for those who were not able to meet the protocols we were required to follow for much of the past 14 months,” Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a statement.

“We’ve got lots happening, with Carnival Luminosa and Carnival Celebration joining our fleet this November and more to come in 2023,” she continued. “Whatever the ship, homeport, or itinerary that works for you, our great onboard team is ready to deliver a fun vacation.”

The cruise ship operator’s move—which affects Carnival Cruise, Princess Cruises, and Cunard—came in the same week rival Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced similar revisions to its COVID-19 vaccination and testing protocols.

“Our long-awaited revisions to our testing and vaccination requirements bring us closer in line with the rest of society, which has learned to adapt and live with COVID-19,” Frank Del Rio, president of the Florida-based global cruise operator, said in an Aug. 8 press release.
Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean-operated cruise lines also announced similar guidelines starting with Sept. 5 departures, according to a statement from the firm.
The Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, is seen moored in the Port of Miami on Aug. 1, 2021. (Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images)
The Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, is seen moored in the Port of Miami on Aug. 1, 2021. (Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images)

“All travelers regardless of vaccination status can cruise on the following itineraries, as long as they meet any testing requirements to board,” said Royal Caribbean, noting itineraries include cruises from Los Angeles, Galveston, New Orleans, and European homeports.

Royal Caribbean stressed that COVID-19 vaccination requirements remain in place until further notice at any homeport not mentioned, urging guests to visit the company’s “Getting Ready to Cruise” page to view current protocols by homeport.

Smaller cruise operators such as Azamara Cruises, MSC Cruises, and several others have recently scrapped vaccination and testing requirements altogether.

The moves came after a decision handed down by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on July 18 that ended its reporting system for cruise ships, which was hailed by cruise industry groups. Cruise operators have said COVID-19 restrictions have crushed the industry over the past two years—amid high-profile incidents involving viral outbreaks on ships.