A Look at U.S. Vaccine Policies By Cruise Line

Carnival Vista

The U.S. cruise restart is picking up pace with several vessels now back in service in Florida and out of Seattle for Alaska.

With many more vessels entering service in the coming weeks and months, Cruise Industry News looked into COVID-19 vaccine policies and restart plans of some of the major players.

Carnival Cruise Line

First Cruise: In service since July 3, 2021
Homeports: Galveston, Miami and Seattle 
Region: Caribbean, Bahamas and Alaska
Vaccination required? 
Yes - for 95% of the guests at least through October

After reactivating four ships in July, Carnival Cruise Line plans to add eleven more vessels into service through October. The lineup includes the new Mardi Gras, which is set to depart on its inaugural cruise on July 31, and also the Carnival Panorama in the West Coast.

Initially in place for the July departures, Carnival’s COVID-19 vaccination policy has been extended for cruises departing through October. According to the company, 95 percent of the guests will need to have had their final approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to sailing and will be required to present proof of vaccination at time of check-in.

The company said it will continue to welcome unvaccinated guests onboard, but all unvaccinated guests, including children under the age of 12, will be subject to pre-cruise and pre-embarkation testing and testing again prior to debarkation (on cruises longer than four days) along with a $150 per person charge to cover the costs of testing, reporting and health and safety screenings.

Unvaccinated guests departing from Florida (effective July 31) and Texas (effective Aug. 2) will also need to show proof of travel insurance coverage, based on the itineraries being sailed and the requirements of ports and destinations visited.

Royal Caribbean International

First Cruise: In service since July 2, 2021
Homeports: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Port Everglades, Seattle, Bayonne and Galveston    
Region: Caribbean, Bahamas and Alaska
Vaccination required? 
Rules vary by ship

Back in service in the United States, Royal Caribbean International has different rules regarding vaccination against COVID-19. The company is planning a nine-ship restart plan, sailing from six different U. S. ports.

For the Freedom, Odyssey, Allure, Symphony and Mariner sailing out of Florida ports in July and August, vaccines are “strongly recommended” for all eligible guests – including those 16 years of age and older (age 12 and older for sailings departing on or after Aug. 1).

Approximately 90 percent of the passengers are expected to be vaccinated, but those choosing not to be vaccinated or not willing to verify vaccination will be subject to testing and additional health protocols which will be at their expense.

Marking the brand’s first U.S. commercial cruise in more than 15 months, the Freedom of the Seas sailed from Miami on July 2 with 93 percent of those onboard fully vaccinated.

For the Serenade and Ovation from Seattle, the Independence from Galveston and the Oasis from Bayonne, guests will need to be fully vaccinated with the exemption only for children under 12. Children will thus need to be tested and subject to health protocols, with no additional charges for any testing.

Celebrity Cruises

First Cruise: In service since June 26, 2021
Homeports: Fort Lauderdale and Seattle    
Region: Alaska and Caribbean
Vaccination required? 
Yes, for at least 95% of all guests

The first cruise line to resume service in the United States, Celebrity Cruises requires at least 95% of passengers to be inoculated on each cruise.

According to the company’s website, all guests aged 16 years and older must be fully vaccinated with all COVID-19 vaccine doses administered at least 14 days prior to sailing.  As of August 1, 2021, all guests aged 12 and older must be fully vaccinated. Crewmembers are also fully vaccinated.

Currently, the company plans to have four ships operating from U. S. ports through September.

MSC Cruises

First Cruise: August 2, 2021
Homeports: Miami and Port Canaveral
Region: Caribbean and Bahamas
Vaccination required? 

After recently completing a CDC test cruise, MSC Cruises is poised to restart cruising from U.S. ports. The MSC Meraviglia will kick off the restart on August 2, followed by the MSC Divina on September 18. Both ships will offer cruises from Florida to the Caribbean and Bahamas.

The new itineraries will welcome both vaccinated and non-vaccinated guests, according to MSC.

Those who are not vaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be required to purchase travel insurance coverage for COVID-19. Unvaccinated guests will also be subject to more stringent protocols, which include additional testing, MSC organized shore excursions at the destinations and others.

Norwegian Cruise Line

First Cruise: August 7, 2021
Homeports: Seattle, Miami and New York      
Region: Alaska, Caribbean and Bermuda
Vaccination required? 
Yes, initially through October 31

After resuming service in Europe, Norwegian Cruise Line will deploy three ships in the United States through September. With the new Norwegian Encore sailing to Alaska, the company is also planning to offer cruises from Miami with the Norwegian Gem and from New York with the Norwegian Breakaway.

Norwegian is planning 100 percent vaccinated sailings through, at least, October 31. Therefore, all guests (including children) and crew, will be required to be fully vaccinated to sail in the period.

Recently, the company filed a lawsuit in Florida, challenging the state’s action of fining businesses that require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Disney Cruise Line

First Cruise: August 9, 2021
Homeports: Port Canaveral      
Region: Bahamas 
Vaccination required? 

Beginning on August 9, Disney Cruise Line will resume sailings from Florida, using the 2,500-guest Disney Dream. The vessel is set to sail a series of four- and three-night Bahamian voyages from Port Canaveral with two stops at Castaway Cay.

Disney will not be requiring proof of vaccination for its sailings out of Florida, but non-vaccinated passengers will be subjected to a pre-embarkation PCR test and a $65 antigen test at the port.

Holland America Line

First Cruise: In service since July 24, 2021
Homeports: Seattle, San Diego and Fort Lauderdale
Region: Alaska, West Coast and Caribbean
Vaccination required? 
Yes, for all 2021 cruises

Holland America Line is first welcoming the guests back in Alaska with Seattle departures on the Nieuw Amsterdam. After reentering service on July 24, the vessel is set to offer a series of week-long voyages in the region through October 2.

The brand is also resuming Caribbean and West Coast operations, starting in September. Five additional vessels are expected to reenter service in both destinations.

According to Holland America’s website, these cruises in 2021 are available for guests who have received their final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise and have proof of vaccination. Crew vaccinations will be in accordance with CDC guidelines.

Princess Cruises

First Cruise: In service since July 25, 2021
Homeports: Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale
Region: Alaska, West Coast and Caribbean
Vaccination required? 
Yes, for all 2021 cruises

Princess Cruises is restarting U.S. operations in Alaska, with the 2017-built Majestic Princess. The vessel welcomed the passengers back on July 25, the first of ten sailings from Seattle.

The Carnival-owned brand is also planning to resume sailings from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Ft. Lauderdale this fall, with a total of eight cruise ships.

According to Princess, all cruises sailing through 2021 are available for guests who have received their final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise and have proof of vaccination. Crew vaccinations will be in accordance with CDC guidelines.

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line

First Cruise: In service since July 24, 2021
Homeports: Palm Beach
Region: Bahamas
Vaccination required? 

Bahamas Paradise has resumed sailing from Palm Beach. After receiving a green light from the CDC to conduct a simulated sailing in June, the Grand Classica has restarted its regular program of short cruises between Florida and Freeport.

According to Bahamas Paradise website, guests will not be required to get vaccinated for COVID-19 before boarding, but a strict testing program is in place. The crew, meanwhile, will be fully vaccinated.

Silversea Cruises

First Cruise: July 29, 2021
Homeports: Seattle
Region: Alaska
Vaccination required? 

Starting on July 29, Silversea will be the first luxury cruise line back in service in the United States. The Royal Caribbean Group-owned brand plans to operate the Silver Muse in Alaska, sailing from Seattle.

According to the company, one of the measures to guarantee the health and safety of the operation, is making sure that all guests and crew are vaccinated against COVID-19.

Crystal Cruises

First Cruise: August 22, 2021
Homeports: Boston and New York
Region: Bermuda
Vaccination required? 

Crystal Cruises recently joined the U.S. restart lineup, with plans to operate an East Coast season. Beginning in August 22, the Crystal Symphony is set to sail from Boston and New York, offering seven-night voyages to Bermuda.

All guests and crew will be vaccinated as a requirement of the company’s Crystal Clean+ protocols, a set of measures established in response to COVID-19. Additionally, Crystal’s guests and crew will follow all local health guidelines and protocols when visiting Bermuda, the company said.


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