More Cruise Lines to Start Allowing Unvaccinated Passengers on Board

Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Princess Cruises are easing their vaccination policies.

Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Princess Cruises have changed their COVID-19-related protocols, becoming the latest cruise lines to simplify vaccine requirements or streamline testing rules.

Starting Sept. 6, Carnival Cruise Line unvaccinated travelers will no longer need to obtain a vaccine exemption to board cruises that last less than 16 nights, according to the company. These travelers will still need to apply for an exemption on cruises to Australia and longer voyages.

Unvaccinated travelers will have to show proof of a negative PCR or antigen test taken within three days of embarkation.

Additionally, Carnival will no longer require pre-embarkation testing on cruises that are less than 16 nights for vaccinated passengers who provide proof of their vaccination status. Travelers who sail to Canada, Bermuda, Greece, Australia, or on longer cruises will still have to get tested to board.

The rule change comes just days after Carnival dropped pre-embarkation testing for vaccinated passengers on cruises that are five days or less and months after the company lifted mask requirements in March.

"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, the president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a statement. "Whatever the ship, homeport or itinerary that works for you, our great onboard team is ready to deliver a fun vacation – something we all look forward to even more nowadays!"

Royal Caribbean will also ease vaccine requirements starting Sept. 5 for cruises departing from Los Angeles, Galveston, New Orleans, and any European homeport, according to the company. Testing rules vary by destination, but Royal Caribbean has eliminated testing for vaccinated passengers on sailings that depart from the U.S. that are 5 nights or shorter.

The company said it was "working with local governments in the Eastern Caribbean to align on vaccination requirements for more itineraries."

For its part, Princess Cruises will also drop testing rules for vaccinated passengers on Sept. 6 on sailings that are less than 16 days departing from the United States, United Kingdom, or Europe, the company shared with Travel + Leisure.

"These updated guidelines help ensure a Princess vacation is available to everyone," John Padgett, the president of Princess Cruises, said in a statement provided to T L. "The Princess experience is truly one-of-a-kind and we encourage everyone to take a Princess vacation that offers amazing service at unmatched value."

The Carnival Sunshine sailing during sunset
Danny Lehman/Courtesy of Carnival Corporation

The company will also simplify its rules for unvaccinated passengers.

Next month, unvaccinated travelers 5 years old and older on voyages less than 16 days will have to get a PCR test or perform a home rapid antigen test within three days of sailing and upload proof of that negative test before boarding. Unvaccinated travelers on longer sailings will have to get a PCR or medically-assisted rapid antigen test taken within three days of embarkation.

Currently, Princess allows unvaccinated travelers to sail, but requires them to get a PCR test taken within three days of their departure as well as undergo a rapid antigen test at the terminal.

The streamlined rules come days after Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Oceania Cruises all said they would drop pandemic-era vaccination requirements in September.

Several other cruise lines have relaxed testing rules for vaccinated guests, including Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville at Sea cruise line and Virgin Voyages.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles