Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Says Vaccine Mandate Isn't Going Away Anytime Soon
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is extending its passenger vaccine mandate "indefinitely," the company's CEO said on Wednesday.
"We're going to announce very soon that we have indefinitely extended our 100% vaccination requirement," CEO Frank Del Rio told investors on Wednesday, according to Cruise Critic. "I think that continues to benefit our three brands. It's something we want to build on."
The vaccine mandate, which applies to every guest without exception, will pertain to all three of the company's cruise lines: Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. The group first adopted the mandate in April before initially extending it through the end of the year, and has fought to defend it in court.
In August, a federal judge sided with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, ruling the company could require proof of vaccination from passengers before boarding a cruise in Florida.
Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended its Conditional Sail Order for cruise ships until Jan. 15, 2022, with plans to move to a voluntary program after that. Del Rio said Norwegian's vaccine mandate would surpass that timeline, noting the recent approval of vaccines for 5 to 11-year-old children and the potential approval of the vaccine for younger children in the future.
"We're not going to sacrifice the health and safety of anyone in order to add a point or two," to the company's overall load factor, he said. "We will continue to mandate vaccination for as long as the science tells us to."
In September, Harry Sommer, the president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, said he was looking forward to the approval of vaccines for younger children in the hopes it would give families the opportunity to book holiday season 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.