Saga Cruises announced the new rule this week.

By Cailey Rizzo
January 21, 2021
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Saga Cruises, a cruise line that caters to passengers aged 50 and older, announced this week that it will require guests to be fully vaccinated before boarding — the first cruise line to require guests' vaccination. 

When cruises resume later this year, all passengers will be required to be "fully vaccinated against COVID‑19 at least 14 days before sailing with us," the cruise line announced in a letter to passengers.

Saga also pushed back the resumption of its cruises from April 3 until May 4, "in order to allow our guests sufficient time to be fully vaccinated." 

"This means that all cruises prior to this will no longer go ahead as planned which I am sure will come as a huge disappointment to you, but I also know that you will understand our reasons behind this," the letter from Nigel Blanks, CEO of Saga Cruises, read. 

Passengers will be required to present proof of vaccination and undergo a COVID-19 test before boarding their ship. Those who are not able to complete both round of vaccination before their intended departure will be able to rebook their cruise for a different departure date or receive a full refund. 

The cruise line is based in the UK, where the plan is to have most of the population of those older than 50 vaccinated by the spring, according to The BBC

Although all passengers will be required to be inoculated, crew members will not. Saga staff will undergo "quarantine and regular testing and as soon as crew can be vaccinated they will be," according to the cruise line website

In addition to the new vaccination requirements, the cruise line will also beef up its safety procedures for returning to service. 

It is likely that other destinations and travel providers will enact similar policies over the coming months. The Seychelles announced this week that they would open borders to vaccinated travelers and recently, Sir Richard Branson spoke about the role of "vaccine passports" and its role in the return of travel.

"Vaccination is everything," Branson said. "Once vulnerable people, in particular, have been vaccinated, I think all kinds of businesses can start opening up again: restaurants, travel companies, cruise companies." 

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.