Azamara, the cruise line, said that it removed the testing mandate except in areas where “it is still required in accordance with country regulations,” according to a statement. Guests will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test before getting on board, the company said.
“Azamara recommends that all guests departing from any port get tested at their leisure prior to travel to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience, but those results will not be required to board an Azamara vessel,” the company said in a statement.
The company, however, will require people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination prior to getting on board.
“The easing of our testing policy marks a step in the right direction towards a return to normalcy for the travel and cruising industry,” said Azamara chief Carol Cabezas in a statement. “Cruising is one of the safest ways to travel, and our existing health and safety protocols onboard will ensure peace of mind for our guests and crew as we move forward.”
On July 18, the CDC removed its COVID-19 reporting system for cruise ships, which was hailed by cruise industry groups. Cruise lines and industry officials have said virus mandates have negatively impacted the industry over the past two years.
“CDC has worked closely with the cruise industry, state, territorial, and local health authorities, and federal and seaport partners to provide a safer and healthier environment for cruise passengers and crew,” the federal health agency’s website now says. “Cruise ships have access to guidance and tools to manage their own COVID-19 mitigation programs.”
On July 21, the agency provided updated guidance for cruise operators to follow and said companies will need to report COVID-19 deaths.
“Cruise ship operators should carefully consider and incorporate these recommendations in developing their own health and safety protocols. Plans should include triggers for a graduated approach to outbreak management in response to increasing case counts or other public health concerns,” the CDC said.
Contingency plans should also address quarantines, testing, a mechanism to notify health officials, food delivery to quarantined individuals, and daily monitoring on cruise lines, according to the CDC.
It came after the agency transitioned to a voluntary COVID-19 program earlier in 2022, which offered safety recommendations including vaccination and testing. Cruise operators that opted into the program agreed to follow the CDC’s guidelines.
“This is an important step forward in the CDC aligning the guidelines for cruise with those it has established for other travel, hospitality, and entertainment sectors,” said a spokesperson for Cruise Lines International Association to USA Today after the recent change.