Margaritaville at Sea Becomes Latest Cruise Line to Ease Pre-boarding COVID Testing Requirement

Vaccinated passengers no longer need to take a COVID-19 test ahead of departure.

Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville cruise ship renderings
Photo: Courtesy of Margaritaville

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville at Sea cruise line dropped its pre-boarding testing requirement for vaccinated passengers, the latest major cruise line in the United States to do so.

The new cruise company, which launched in May with its first 658-cabin Margaritaville at Sea Paradise ship, said the decision to drop testing rules is in line with "following the latest CDC guidelines." The cruise line will continue to require most guests to be vaccinated to sail.

"As the state of COVID-19 evolves, we will continue [to] adapt our protocols based on public health advisories," the company noted in its announcement.

Unvaccinated passengers, who are allowed on the company's cruises under certain exceptions, must show proof of a certified negative rapid antigen COVID-19 test taken within one day of embarking on a sailing.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially ended its pandemic-era program for cruise ships, deciding to no longer display the number of COVID-19 cases online months after the agency allowed its Conditional Sail Order to expire.

The CDC currently recommends all travelers are "up to date" with their COVID-19 vaccines before boarding a cruise, "highly" recommends cruise ships require testing within one day of embarkation, and asks cruise lines to "consider" operating with at least 90% of passengers and 95% of crew up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines.

Margaritaville at Sea became the second cruise line to drop testing after Virgin Voyages eliminated its pre-embarkation testing requirement last week. Virgin Voyages also opened up 10% of its cruise capacity to unvaccinated passengers.

Norwegian Cruise Line has also eliminated testing for vaccinated travelers starting Aug. 1, but the policy does not apply to cruises departing ports in the U.S., Canada, or Piraeus, Greece.

Margaritaville at Sea, which finally took its inaugural journey after being forced to postpone in April, features nautical-themed passenger cabins as well as multiple restaurants and bars like the JWB Prime Steakhouse and the 5 o'Clock Somewhere Bar.

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