If you've been anxiously waiting for your favorite cruise line to resume operations, you might not have to wait much longer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cruise ships which dock in U.S. waters could safely hit the high seas as soon as this July, as long as 95 percent of people on board are fully vaccinated.
The change in regulations is a long time coming. Cruise ships carrying more than 250 people have been banned from U.S. waters since March 2020. In the new guidelines, cruise companies can bypass previously required simulated voyages if a ship attests that 98 percent of its crew and 95 percent of its passengers are fully vaccinated.
Many cruise lines are planning to resume operations in either June or July and are requiring passengers to be fully vaccinated before they board. Here are the cruise lines which are requiring the shot:
Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity Cruises plans to return to Europe and the Caribbean starting this June and vaccinated Americans are invited along for the ride. All crew and guests older than 18 aboard will be required to be vaccinated. Those under the age of 18 must provide proof of negative PCR test results to board.
Crystal Cruises: Crystal plans to resume its river cruises in May and its ocean sailings in June. All adult passengers will need to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before their booked cruise. Guests and crew will also be required to procure negative COVID-19 tests before each cruise, and they will be subject to temperature checks prior to boarding and an onboard masking policy.
Lindblad Expeditions: Lindblad's extensive requirements include proof of COVID vaccination for guests age 16 and up; two negative COVID-19 tests prior to boarding (one before leaving home, and a rapid test administered by ship staff at embarkation); and that you self-isolate at home and follow CDC guidelines for five days prior to leaving home. Expedition cruises to Alaska and the Galapagos will start in June.
Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian will require that all crew and passengers be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to embarkation. Crew and guests will also be tested for COVID-19, and unvaccinated minors will not be allowed to board. The initial sailings will operate at 60 percent capacity, and will be ramped up by 20 percent every 30 days.
Oceania Cruises/ Regent Seven Seas Cruises: As part of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Oceania and Regent will also require all adult passengers and crew members be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before boarding.
Royal Caribbean: Royal Caribbean will resume operations in Mexico and the Caribbean in June. Through August, the cruise line will require all crew and adult passengers to be fully vaccinated. Passengers under 18 may join if they have a negative test result.
Virgin Voyages: Richard Branson’s forthcoming adult-only cruise line (which was supposed to debut last year), will require both passengers and crew to have been vaccinated prior to boarding. The line is scheduled to launch this July.
Windstar Cruises: Windstar will return to the Caribbean and Mediterranean this June at reduced capacity. Guests will need to be fully vaccinated two weeks before the departure and provide a negative test to board.