Every Major Cruise Line's COVID Testing, Vaccine Policy

For the first time in over two years cruise lines are changing their policies for testing and vaccinations on board.

the Carnival - 15-Day Hawaii from San Francisco
Photo: Courtesy of Carnival Cruises

After two years of strict regulations, many cruise lines have shifted their requirements for passengers, making cruising accessible to practically everyone. Many popular cruise lines have eliminated the vaccine and pre-embarkation test as the industry is beginning to shift away from mandatory vaccines and testing.

The changes began shortly after the CDC ended a pandemic-era policy of publicly displaying COVID-19 cases onboard, different cruise lines to the public in July. For those looking to check current COVID-19 trends onboard the CDC urges direct contact with the cruise line, and the organization will continue to monitor and offer guidelines to ships.

Below, we break down each line's list of regulations to sail as well as what travelers need to know to plan.

American Queen Voyages

Where they sail:

American Queen Voyages 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). Guests must also have a negative COVID-19 PCR test completed within 2 days of embarkation.

What other safety measures are in place: Only Lakes & Oceans and Expedition guests will be required to download the ArriveCAN app and take a pre-departure test in the pre-cruise hotel. Luggage is then disinfected before being brought onto the ship and staterooms cleaned with electrostatic fogging.

Find out more: American Queen Voyages

Avalon Waterways

Where they sail: These small-ship river cruises sail throughout Europe, Asia, South America, and down the Nile River in Egypt.

Who needs the vaccine: All international travelers from the U.S. must be fully vaccinated before boarding.

What other safety measures are in place: All guests will undergo a health screening upon arrival and luggage will be disinfected. Avalon will provide COVID-19 testing for travelers who need to show proof of a negative test to return home at no extra cost. Depending on the location of the cruise a pre-departure COVID-19 test may or may not be required.

Find out more: Avalon Waterways

Azamara

Where they sail: Azamara sails mid-size ships all over the world, to all seven continents.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests and crew 12 and older will be required to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before boarding a ship. Beginning Dec. 1, 2022, the company plans to drop the vaccine requirement.

What other safety measures are in place: Depending on the port of embarkation guests may or may not to pre-test to travel. The cruise line's Miami port requires all passengers to be tested prior. For a full list of ports and whether they require a test guests can check online.

Azamara's ships have been upgraded with new HVAC filtration systems, and EPA-certified disinfectants are used to clean the ship. Depending on where travelers have been 15 days leading up to the trip they may be denied boarding.

Find out more: Azamara

Carnival Cruises

Where they sail: Carnival sails large ships around the world, including popular trips to the Caribbean. The company sailed its maiden voyage on the Mardi Gras out of Florida in July.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests are required to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before boarding one of Carnival's "vaccinated cruises." Unvaccinated passengers 12 and older sailing on a Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, or Maryland-based ship who are granted an exemption must provide proof of a doctor's note attesting to the medical reason they can't be vaccinated, according to the cruise line there are few exceptions.

What other safety measures are in place: For cruises five days or less, there will no longer be pre-cruise testing for vaccinated passengers unless a specific port requires it. Itineraries including Bahamas, Bermuda, or Grand Cayman will still be required to test. All guests will also be required to fill out a health screening 72 hours before embarkation and undergo health screenings prior to boarding. Unvaccinated travelers on a cruise to Bermuda will be required to purchase travel insurance (children under 12 are exempt as long as they are traveling with vaccinated parents).

Both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests who have recovered from COVID-19 within three months of their sailing date, do not need the required pre-cruise COVID test before embarkation, only if they are at least 10 days past their COVID-19 infection, have no symptoms and present documentation of recovery from COVID-19 from their healthcare provider.

Find out more: Carnival Cruise Line

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Apex
Celebrity Apex. Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Where they sail: Celebrity Cruises sails all over the world.

Who needs the vaccine: The vaccine is no longer required to sail on cruises from the U.S. and Europe. A vaccine is required for sailings visiting Canada.

What other safety measures are in place: A pre-embarkation test is no longer required for vaccinated guests on sailings 9 days or less. Unvaccinated passengers will still be required to test 3 days prior to sailing. Self-tests are acceptable from European and U.S. ports that don't stop in Bermuda or Canada.

Find out more: Celebrity Cruises

Cunard

Where they sail: Cunard, which sails all over the world, is known for its transatlantic journeys aboard the Queen Mary 2.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests 18 and older must be fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated passengers under 18 will be required to undergo a PCR test within 72 hours of their departure.

What other safety measures are in place: Cunard has "enhanced" their onboard ventilation systems and implemented mandatory mask-wearing policies indoors. All guests aged 4 and older are required to have a negative COVID-19 test before boarding. 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

Disney Cruise Line

Where they sail: Disney sails family-friendly journeys including to the Caribbean, Europe, and Alaska.

Who needs the vaccine: Disney requires all guests 12 and older to be vaccinated on cruises out of the U.S., and Canada, and everyone aged 5 and older on European sailings.

What other safety measures are in place: All entrants to Canada will be required to download the arriveCAN app, a test is no longer required for vaccinated travelers.

All guests will be required to test 1 to 2 days prior to embarkation on any European cruises. For vaccinated guests on the Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Wish, and Disney Wonder a negative test is required 2 days before sailing. On the Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Wish, and Disney Wonder, fully vaccinated guests are no longer required to test. Beginning Nov. 7, guests aboard the Disney Magic no longer need to provide a test.

Find out more: Disney Cruise Line

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 guests and crew are required to be fully vaccinated with the booster shot.

What other safety measures are in place: All ships have been equipped with High Efficiency Particular Air (HEPA) filters and buffets have been eliminated. The cruise line states some itineraries will require proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to travel, and that instructors will be sent out 30 days prior to travel.

Find out more: Grand Circle Cruise Line

Holland America

Where they sail: Holland America sails large ships all over the world, including to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Europe, and more.

Who needs the vaccine: Unvaccinated guests are welcome but will be required to self-test three days before cruising.

What other safety measures are in place: Vaccinated passengers traveling on ships for less than 16 days excluding itineraries with the Panama Canal, trans-ocean, and other selected itineraries will no longer be required to test.

Find out more: Holland America

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.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests 12 and older need to be vaccinated before boarding. Boosters are recommended but not required.

What other safety measures are in place: Beginning Oct. 1, pre-departure testing will not be required unless for a specific destination.

Find out more: Lindblad Expeditions

Margaritaville at Sea

Where they sail: Margaritaville at Sea offers 3-day cruises to Grand Bahama Island departing from the port of Palm Beach. The cruise line also offers the opportunity to take the ship one way to the Bahamas to allow guests to stay at the Margaritaville resort, and then take the ship back to the Bahamas at a later date.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests are welcome regardless of vaccination status, according to the cruise line.

What other safety measures are in place: Vaccinated passengers are no longer required to take a pre-departure test. Unvaccinated passengers are allowed on board and must have a certified negative antigen test taken within one day of embarkation.

Find out more: Margaritaville at Sea

MSC Cruises

Where they sail: MSC Cruises sails large ocean cruises around the world, including throughout Europe, South America, the Persian Gulf, and the Caribbean. In August, the company started sailing to the Bahamas with a stop at its private island, Ocean Cay.

Who needs the vaccine: U.S. Guests 12 and older on certain cruises are required to be fully vaccinated before boarding, guests must bring their physical vaccine card, or certificate at the time of embarkation.

What other safety measures are in place: Fully-vaccinated passengers are no longer required to show proof of a negative test unless it is required of the destination. Unvaccinated children must show proof of a negative PCR test.

Find out more: MSC Cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line

Where they sail: Norwegian sails big ocean cruises all around the world, including popular itineraries all throughout the Caribbean and Greece.

Who needs the vaccine: All passengers may sail regardless of vaccination status.

What other safety measures are in place: Testing is no longer required with the exception of trips departing from a U.S. port; Canadian port; or Piraeus, Greece. All unvaccinated guests over the age of 12 must provide a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours prior to embarkation.

Find out more: Norwegian Cruise Line

Oceania Cruises

Where they sail: Oceania Cruises sails all over the world, including offering several World Cruise itineraries.

Who needs the vaccine: All passengers regardless of vaccination status are allowed to sail.

What other safety measures are in place: Only unvaccinated guests will be required to show proof of a negative PCR or antigen test taken 72 hours prior to boarding. Unvaccinated children aged 12 years and younger are exempt.

Find out more: Oceania Cruises

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.

Who needs the vaccine: Although P&O Cruises' policy states that passengers over the age of 15 are required to be vaccinated, the latest update on its website says guests will be contacted directly in regards to vaccination protocol.

What other safety measures are in place: All guests are required to undergo a COVID-19 test at the terminal. Masks will be required on board indoors, 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.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests are welcome on board, but unvaccinated passengers will be required to test and may need an additional medical exemption at some ports.

What other safety measures are in place: Vaccinated passengers traveling on ships for less than 16 days excluding itineraries with the Panama Canal, trans-ocean, and other selected itineraries will no longer be required to test.

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.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests are now welcome. Unvaccinated passengers will be required to test 3-days before embarkation.

What other safety measures are in place: Pre-departure testing may not be necessary depending on the port. Currently cruises leaving from Bermuda, Canada, and Greece will require a test.

Find out more: Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas
Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas. 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.

Who needs the vaccine: Everyone is welcome regardless of vaccination status, passengers traveling to Bermuda or Canada are required to be vaccinated.

What other safety measures are in place: Vaccinated travelers will no longer need a negative test on sailings shorter than 10 nights. Unvaccinated travelers aged 5 and older will need to take a test within 3 days of boarding. Self-administered tests are accepted.

Find out more: Royal Caribbean International

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, including a booster shot 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: Ocean Cruise guests will be required to get tested for COVID-19 in the terminal. Masks are required on bus transfers, in hotels, and on excursions.

Find out more: Saga

Seabourn

Where they sail: Seabourn's mid-size luxury cruises head all around the world, from Alaska to the Caribbean.

Who needs the vaccine: Guests 12 and older must be fully vaccinated before boarding. Guests must take a COVID-19 PCR test within two days before sailing. Unvaccinated guests may join a sailing leaving from Europe, but will be required to test and may have additional requirements.

What other safety measures are in place: Masks are required onboard except while eating or drinking or in a private room. For passengers in need of a test upon returning to their home country the cruise will provide at no cost.

Find out more: Seabourn

Silversea

Silver Shadow cruise ship
Silversea

Where they sail: Silversea brings guests all around the world in luxury and style, including to the Galapagos and Antarctica.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests are welcome, however, unvaccinated guests may not be welcome on all sailings depending on local regulations.

What other safety measures are in place: Vaccinated guests do not need a pre-departure test unless local regulations such as cruises leaving from Australia, Bermuda, Canada, or Greece require it. Unvaccinated travelers will need a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of embarkation.

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.

Who needs the vaccine: All guests 12 and older must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before boarding. At least one booster is required to sail.

What other safety measures are in place: Guests are not required, but requested to test before departing from home (this policy is subject to change as COVID-19 trends change,) as the company states passengers should test to "be a good citizen". Each ship can perform rapid molecular tests on board. The cruise states they will not visit any destinations where vaccine rates are low.

Masks are required in public spaces, according to the company "bandana" and "buff" face masks will not be accepted.

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 before boarding, and will be required to show physical proof prior to boarding.

What other safety measures are in place: Testing is no longer required on any river cruise. Lakes & Oceans and Expedition guests will be required to download the ArriveCAN app and take a pre-departure test in the pre-cruise hotel.

Luggage is then disinfected before being brought onto the ship and staterooms cleaned with electrostatic fogging. Masks will be required during the embarkation process and while riding a shore excursion bus, but will not be required on board.

Find out more: Victory Cruise Lines

Viking Cruises

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

Who needs the vaccine: All guests must be fully vaccinated to board a ship. Guests who are eligible must have a booster.

What other safety measures are in place: In addition to vaccines, all guests may 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 Cruises

Virgin Voyages

Resilient Lady
Courtesy of Virgin Voyages

Where they sail: The brand-new cruise line is launching mini sailings from England for UK residents, and has cruises throughout the Caribbean, and transatlantic options.

Who needs the vaccine: Most passengers will be required to be vaccinated at least two weeks before boarding, however, the cruise line will allow for up to 10% of guests on board to be unvaccinated. All crew are required to be vaccinated.

What other safety measures are in place: Virgin Voyages was the first cruise line to eliminate pre-departure testing for vaccinated guests. Unvaccinated guests must take a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours, or take a test at the terminal for $30.

The cruise line will continue to work with an advisory board to help ensure health and safety on board at all times, including the use of air filtration systems and sanitization of high touch surface areas.

Find out more: 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. Boosters are highly encouraged and are recommended to be administered at least one week prior to travel.

What other safety measures are in place: Guests no longer need a pre-embarkation test unless a specific destination requires it.

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.

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