These Cruise Lines Just Dropped Their COVID-19 Testing Rules

Disney, Virgin Voyages, and more are the latest cruise lines to lift COVID-19 restrictions.

Several major cruise lines have dropped COVID-19-related testing protocols ahead of the holiday season, returning to what it was like before the pandemic swept the world.

The Disney Wish ship by Disney Cruise Line

Steven Diaz/Courtesy of Disney

Starting this month, cruise lines including Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Virgin Voyages have simplified or removed COVID-19-related pre-boarding rules entirely, joining a growing trend in the cruise industry. It comes weeks after Norwegian Cruise Line became one of the first cruise lines to eliminate pandemic-related rules entirely, including for testing, vaccines, and masks.

This month, Disney will drop the requirement for travelers to get tested for COVID-19, regardless of their vaccination status, according to the company. Currently, the cruise line requires all unvaccinated guests to get tested one to two days before they sail. 

The new rule will go into effect starting Nov. 14.

Adults-only cruise line Virgin Voyages also removed all vaccine and testing requirements for all its ships on Oct. 30, according to the company. The move was done “in keeping in line with the rest of the travel industry.” 

On Royal Caribbean, unvaccinated travelers 12 and older leaving from a U.S. or Caribbean port still have to get tested within three days of embarkation, according to the cruise line, but vaccinated guests are exempt from testing entirely. Previously, Royal Caribbean required vaccinated travelers to get tested for cruises that were 10 nights and longer and required unvaccinated travelers 5 and older to get tested as well.

Royal Caribbean will accept a variety of tests as proof to board, including simply taking a photo of a self-administered home test.

Several other cruise lines have also joined in easing restrictions to board, including MSC Cruises, which has dropped testing completely for vaccinated travelers sailing to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Carnival similarly has dropped both vaccine and testing rules for all travelers on cruises that are 15 nights or less. 

When cruise lines first started sailing in a post-pandemic world, many implemented strict testing and vaccination rules, in line with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But over the summer, the CDC officially ended its pandemic-era program for cruise ships and moved to a recommendation that all travelers be "up to date" with their COVID-19 vaccines before boarding a cruise.

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