Carnival Cruise Lines will join its competitors from March 1 by ending the mask mandate on all cruise lines. This comes after the CDC eased its warnings for cruise ships late on Friday.
The mask mandate removal comes after Disney World, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (NCLH.N) removed their mask mandate.
The New Mask Requirements
Carnival Cruise Lines said they would recommend guests continue to wear masks, but they wouldn’t enforce it. The company said in a statement: “There may, however, be certain venues and events where masks will be required.” However, they didn’t add any details to this.
The Current Passenger Requirements
Carnival Cruise Line says ‘vaccinated cruises’ are available for guests who have received their last dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before sailing. The CDC requires pre-cruise testing for all vaccinated guests at least two days prior to the sailing date.
The company states: “If the sailing is on Saturday, the test may be taken on Thursday and Friday, and as late as Saturday if you are guaranteed to receive your results in time for check-in. On certain sailings, guests should be prepared for the possibility of an additional COVID test prior to boarding, which will be provided in the terminal on a complimentary basis.”
There are some exemptions to vaccination standards according to Carnival Cruise Line. The company states: “We will continue to manage an exemption process for a small number of guests who are ineligible for vaccines.”
“Vaccine exemptions for cruises to the Caribbean will be limited to a very small number of children under 12, and teens and adults with a medical condition who can provide written confirmation from their medical provider that they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.”
Carnival Cruise Line said it plans to offer more flexibility in pre-cruise testing requirements, and children under 5 will be exempt from vaccine requirements or exemption.
Guests aged two and over must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 and 24 hours of sailing. Unvaccinated guests must also take an antigen test at embarkation and test again within 24 hours of debarkation on all cruises longer than four days.
However, all unvaccinated guests will be assessed a US$150 per person charge on the guest’s onboard Sail & Sign account. This will cover the cost of testing, reporting, and health and safety screenings, according to Carnival Cruise Line.
Guests who have proof of recovery from COVID-19 in the last 3 months don’t have to take a pre-cruise COVID test before embarkation if they’re 10 days past their COVID-19 infection, have zero symptoms, and can present proof of recovery from their healthcare provider.
CDC Cruise Guidance
The CDC placed all U.S. Cruise Ships on a ‘Level 4: COVID-19 High-Risk Category before Christmas after Omicron cases surged.
However, the CDC moved all cruise ships to a level 3 rating on Tuesday. Therefore, the CDC only suggests travelers stay up to date with their vaccination requirements. The CDC still advises all travelers who are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 to avoid cruise travel.
A CDC spokesperson said: “Getting vaccinated is still the best way to protect yourself from severe disease, slow the spread of COVID-19, and reduce the number of new variants,”
As COVID-19 cases decrease worldwide, mask usage is dropping. However, airlines still require passengers to wear face coverings on all flights. As a result, all travelers should pack some masks in their suitcase or hand luggage before traveling.
Hopefully, face masks will become history for travelers in 2022.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories