Cruise lines that are welcoming vaccinated travelers as well as specific protocols they're implementing for a safe sailing.

By Alison Fox
April 16, 2021
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As cruises are finally starting to hit the high seas after a difficult year filled with cancellations and question marks, many are requiring proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to board.

Several cruise lines, like Celebrity Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line, have planned summer, sailings in the Caribbean and Europe, taking advantage of the vaccine rollout to give guests peace of mind as well as plan cruises to destinations that require the jab, like Iceland.

The move is also in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation that both passengers and crew be vaccinated before boarding a ship.

"What we're hearing from our cruisers is that a wide majority — 86% — will cruise if vaccine requirements are in place," editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, Colleen McDaniel, told Travel + Leisure, calling the decision by major lines to mandate the jab "pretty significant."

"And of our readers who have already been vaccinated, most say that their vaccine makes them even more likely to take a cruise — and they're ready to travel in the very near future," she added.

Below, we break down each line welcoming vaccinated cruisers as well as what travelers need to know if they plan to sail.

American Cruise Lines

Where they sail: American Cruise Lines sails up and down U.S. rivers on both coasts, including the Mississippi River and the Columbia and Snake rivers, and visits over 30 states. Currently, sailings are at reduced capacity.

Who needs the vaccine: Vaccines are currently required for all cruise departures through April 30th. Vaccines may or may not be required for all  2021 cruises, as requirements may vary depending on where a cruise is sailing and date of departure. 

What other safety measures are in place: Ships are currently operating at 75% capacity and each ship has the ability to test passengers onboard.

Find out more: American Cruise Lines

American Queen Steamboat Company

Where they sail: The American Queen Steamboat Company is known for its Mississippi River cruises as well as sailings down other U.S. rivers like the Columbia and Snake rivers, using classic paddle wheeler ships for a throwback romantic vibe.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests and crew must be fully vaccinated (14 days after their final shot) for sailings starting July 1.

What other safety measures are in place: Before boarding, guests must check in to a pre-cruise hotel and get tested for COVID-19. Luggage is then disinfected before being brought onto the ship and staterooms cleaned with electrostatic fogging. Masks will be required when social distancing isn't possible.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Apex
Celebrity Apex
| Credit: Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Where they sail: Celebrity Cruises sails all over the world, and is planning several itineraries for this summer. Celebrity will debut its new "Celebrity Apex" ship in Greece in June, as well as set sail from St. Maarten on its renovated Celebrity Millennium starting in June.

Who needs the vaccine: Guests 18 and older must be vaccinated at least two weeks before boarding. Those under 18 (and older than 2 years old) will be required to show proof of a negative RT-PCR test.

What other safety measures are in place: Celebrity has added more doctors and nurses to their ships along with critical care beds and rapid testing. Guests will only be allowed off the ship on a Celebrity shore excursion.

Find out more: Celebrity Cruises

Crystal Cruises

Where they sail: Crystal will sail seven-night trips from Nassau and Bimini starting in July on the Crystal Serenity, as well as sail 10-night cruises from St. John's in Antigua in August. Those looking to trade beaches for adventure can head out on one of the company's expedition cruises crossing the Arctic Circle from Iceland starting in July.

Who needs the vaccine: Crystal will require all guests to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before boarding.

What other safety measures are in place: In addition to the vaccine, guests will have to test negative for COVID-19 before boarding and wear masks when appropriate. In the event someone gets sick, Crystal's ships will be equipped with ventilators and PCR testing equipment.

Find out more: Crystal Cruises

Cunard

Where they sail: Cunard, which sails all over the world, is known for its transatlantic journeys aboard the Queen Mary 2. When Cunard returns to the high seas, it will be with a series of UK-only sailings on the Queen Elizabeth.

Who needs the vaccine: Cunard's initial cruises will be open only to UK residents who are fully vaccinated at least seven days before boarding. Voyages departing on the Queen Elizabeth after Oct. 2, departing on Queen Mary 2 after Nov. 13, and departing on Queen Victoria after Aug. 28 will not carry the vaccine requirement.

What other safety measures are in place: Cunard has "enhanced" their onboard ventilation systems and implemented mandatory mask-wearing policies. Crew will be tested regularly while on board. Guests who have certain pre-existing medical conditions, including those who are on supplementary oxygen, will not be allowed to board.

Find out more: Cunard

Grand Circle Cruise Line

Where they sail: Grand Circle Cruise Line sails small ships and river cruises all over the world, including an extensive list of European itineraries. The company plans to start sailing again in August, including to Greece, Turkey, and Italy.

Who needs the vaccine: All passengers must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before boarding. All crew will be fully vaccinated as well.

What other safety measures are in place: All ships have been equipped with High Efficiency Particular Air (HEPA) filters and buffets have been eliminated.

Lindblad Expeditions

Where they sail: Lindblad Expeditions is known for its adventurous trips to hard-to-reach destinations like Antarctica and the Russian Far East, partnering with National Geographic to add to the experience. In June, Lindblad Expeditions plans to resume operations with trips to Alaska and the Galápagos.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests 16 years old and older will need to be vaccinated before boarding.

What other safety measures are in place: In addition to vaccines, all guests will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test as well as undergo a second rapid antigen test before boarding.

Find out more: Lindblad Expeditions

Norwegian Cruise Line

Where they sail: Norwegian sails big ocean cruises all around the world, including popular itineraries all throughout the Caribbean. This summer, the company plans to sail from Montego Bay, Jamaica; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and Athens, Greece.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests will be required to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before boarding for sailings through at least Oct. 31.

What other safety measures are in place: In addition to vaccines, guests will be required to undergo a rapid antigen test before boarding as well as a second rapid antigen test before disembarking. Guests will be required to wear face masks indoors as well as outdoors when social distancing isn't possible. Each ship will have a dedicated Public Health Officer on board as well as an Infectious Disease Prevention Officer.

Find out more: Norwegian Cruise Line

Oceania Cruises

Where they sail: Oceania Cruises sails all over the world, including offering several World Cruise itineraries. The cruise company has currently paused operations through at least July 31.

Who needs the vaccine: When cruises do resume, all guests will be required to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before boarding.

What other safety measures are in place: Guests will be required to undergo a rapid antigen test before boarding as well as a second rapid antigen test before disembarking. Initially, the company will "control the guest capacity onboard" as well as have a Public Health Officer and Infectious Disease Prevention Officer on board.

Find out more: Oceania Cruises

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas
Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas
| Credit: Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Where they sail: Royal Caribbean sails large ocean ships all over the world, including many popular itineraries throughout the Caribbean and Asia. This summer, Royal Caribbean will sail from Israel, Cyprus, and the Bahamas.

Who needs the vaccine: Guests 18 and older will be required to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before boarding. Guests under 18 must show proof of a negative RT-PCR test.

What other safety measures are in place: Royal Caribbean has upgraded the air filtration systems on its ships and uses electrostatic fogging to clean. Crew members must also be vaccinated.

P&O Cruises

Where they sail: The UK-based cruise line sails around Europe, including to the Canary Islands, as well as to the Caribbean from Southampton in the UK. This summer, the company plans to offer a series of short UK holidays for UK residents from their home port in Southampton.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests who plan to join one of the summer UK sailings must be vaccinated at least seven days before boarding.

What other safety measures are in place: Masks will be required on board when appropriate, and all shore excursions will be with vetted operators.

Find out more: P&O Cruises

Princess Cruises

Where they sail: The global cruise line sails large ocean ships all around the world, from Australia to Alaska. This summer, the company will offer a series of "Summer Seacations" from Southampton, sailing around the UK coast.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests will be required to be fully vaccinated at least seven days before boarding a "Summer Seacations" cruise. There is currently no vaccination requirement for other Princess Cruises going forward.

What other safety measures are in place: Crew members will undergo strict testing and quarantine, and guests will only be allowed on shore excursions that are "researched and organized by Princess Cruises."

Find out more: Princess Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Where they sail: Regent Seven Seas offers all-inclusive luxury cruises around the globe, which include perks like free airfare, free excursions, and complimentary unlimited drinks on board. The company is also offering free multi-day land extensions before and after sailings for several cruises leaving between October 2021 and March 2022.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests and crew must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before boarding.

What other safety measures are in place: In addition to vaccinations, all guests will be required to take a rapid antigen test before boarding as well as a second test before disembarking the ship. All staterooms will be cleaned with "intensive non-toxic microbial disinfection" each day.

Saga

Where they sail: The British cruise line, exclusively for guests 50 and older, sails both ocean and river cruises around the globe.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before boarding a ship. Saga was the first major cruise line to implement this vaccination policy.

What other safety measures are in place: The cruise line has reduced capacity to no more than 800 guests and will offer a private chauffeur car per household for up to 250 miles for June and July sailings. All guests will be required to get tested for COVID-19 at home and in the terminal.

Find out more: Saga

Seabourn

Where they sail: Seabourn's mid-size luxury cruises head all around the world, from Alaska to the Caribbean. This summer, Seabourn will sail 7-day cruises from Greece.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests on the summer Greece sailings must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before boarding.

What other safety measures are in place: All guests will have to be tested before boarding and masks will be required when social distancing is not possible. Only shore excursions that "comply with our prescribed protocols" will be allowed.

Find out more: Seabourn

Silversea

Silver Shadow cruise ship
Credit: Silversea

Where they sail: Silversea brings guests all around the world in luxury and style, including to the Galapagos and Antarctica. Silversea plans to sail 10-day itineraries to the Eastern Mediterranean from Greece starting June 18.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests and crew must be fully vaccinated before boarding, except for cruises departing from Australia.

What other safety measures are in place: All guests and crew will be tested before boarding a ship and those wishing to leave the ship will only be able to do so on a "verified shore excursion." All ships have an Infection Control Officer.

Find out more: Silversea

UnCruise Adventures

Where they sail: This small-ship company is known for its Alaska journeys as well as adventures in places like the Galapagos and island hopping in Hawaii. UnCruise Adventures plans to sail to Alaska this summer and is unaffected by Canada's cruise ban.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests and crew 18 and older must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before boarding for all itineraries, except the Galapagos. Those under 18 will be able to join a trip without the need to get vaccinated.

What other safety measures are in place: All guests must show proof of a negative molecular COVID-19 test taken within four days of boarding. Mask wearing is mandatory when unable to social distance, and each ship can perform rapid molecular tests on board.

Find out more: UnCruise Adventures

Victory Cruise Lines

Where they sail: Victory Cruise Lines is known for its Great Lakes cruises, providing all-inclusive sailings to see breathtaking sights from Niagara Falls to the iconic architecture of Chicago from Lake Michigan. Beyond the U.S., Victory Cruise Lines sails to Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests and crew will be required to be vaccinated on sailings starting July 1.

What other safety measures are in place: Guests must check in to a hotel before their cruise and be tested. Before boarding, guests must undergo a temperature check and have their luggage disinfected. Staterooms are disinfected with electrostatic fogging twice each day, and masks are required when social distancing is not possible.

Find out more: Victory Cruise Lines

Viking

Where they sail: Viking sails ocean and river cruises all over the world, including throughout Europe. This summer, Viking will sail around England for UK residents, as well as to Bermuda and Iceland in June.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests must be fully vaccinated to board one of the summer cruises.

What other safety measures are in place: In addition to vaccines, all guests will be required to undergo a saliva PCR test at embarkation as well as "frequent" testing throughout the journey. All staterooms are equipped with independent air handling units.

Find out more: Viking

Virgin Voyages

Resilient Lady
Credit: Courtesy of Virgin Voyages

Where they sail: The brand-new cruise line is launching mini sailings from England for UK residents this summer — called the "Summer Soiree Series" — ahead of its official launch later in 2021.

Who needs the vaccine: All passengers will be required to be vaccinated at least two weeks before boarding the summer UK sailings.

What other safety measures are in place: All luggage will be "fogged down" to clean it before bringing it on board and air purification systems that disinfect air have been installed.

Find out more: Virgin Voyages

Scarlet Lady Exterior
Credit: Courtesy of Virgin Voyages

Windstar Cruises

Where they sail: Windstar operates small-ship cruises and several sailing vessels all around the globe, including to places like Central America.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests will be required to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before boarding one of Windstar's yachts.

What other safety measures are in place: All guests must also undergo a COVID-19 rapid antigen test at the pier before boarding, and electrostatic sprayers using hospital-grade, EPA-approved sanitizing solutions will be used on surfaces and in public spaces on the ships. All crew will be tested with a PCR test each week. Guests who want to leave the ship will need to do so on a Windstar shore excursion. Windstar also offers the option of getting tested for a fee before disembarking in order to comply with border testing requirements.

Find out more: Windstar Cruises

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.