Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that it is to extend its vaccine requirement for travelers hoping to enjoy one of its cruises until the end of the year. The cruise line – one of the largest in the US, with around 2.5 million passengers in a typical year – has just restarted its cruises from Florida, home to the world’s busiest cruise ports.
The recent announcement isn’t the first time that Norwegian Cruise Line has been in the news during the pandemic, with the past few months seeing the cruise line locked in a legal battle with Florida about the use of vaccine passports. Here’s everything you need to know about their extended vaccination requirements, plus a recap on the cruise line’s battles to get back on the water safely and soundly.
Norwegian’s Legal Battles – Information For Travelers
For cruise lines, the past 20 months or so of the Covid-19 pandemic has been tough beyond belief. Cruise lines have had to battle for their right to resume their cruising operations after the CDC prevented them from taking to the seas once more. However, the CDC wasn’t the only entity that found itself locked in a struggle with the ailing cruise industry.
Norse mythology isn’t short of a saga, and Norwegian Cruise Lines’ saga with the state of Florida has been filled with twists, turns and drama. Following Florida’s executive order that banned the use of vaccine passports, Norwegian took them to court in July, accusing the state of preventing them from restarting their operations in the state “safely and soundly” as they were unable to find out whether or not a passenger had been vaccinated.
However, just last week, judges handed Norwegian a temporary win in their legal proceedings with the state, granting their request for a preliminary injunction that would allow them to require proof of vaccination for passengers in the lead up to the trial of the case. The news allowed the cruise line to ask for proof of vaccination in time for their first departure from Florida on August 15th – and it seems the cruise line is set to continue asking for evidence for at least a little while longer.
Norwegian Extends Visa Requirement – Information For Travelers
Whilst the cruise industry has been restarted for a few weeks now, some high profile news stories have called into question the safety of resuming operations at present. Several cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, have reported outbreaks on board that have led them to re-evaluating their policies for those on board. Keen not to make the same mistake, Norwegian has also altered its policies – by extending its vaccination requirement.
The new expiry date for the mandatory vaccination of both staff and passengers is set to last until December 31st, 2021. It was previously scheduled to expire on October 31st of this year. A spokesman for the cruise line said:
“Under the guidance of globally recognized public health experts and to prioritize the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit, we have decided to extend guest vaccination requirements for all sailings through Dec. 31, 2021. Guests who are not old enough to be vaccinated will not be allowed on these sailings. However, we eagerly await an expansion of the age criteria for vaccinations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration so we can once again welcome these guests back on board.”
According to Norwegian’s website, the requirement means that passengers can enjoy a series of benefits on board. Such benefits listed by Norwegian include:
- Mask free cruising
- No social distancing
- No capacity restrictions
- No restrictions on shore excursions
- All restaurants and experiences open
- Safer cruising
However, the cruise line also points out that such protocols could be set to change as government regulations evolve.
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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