The CDC has announced new guidance for cruises in the United States which includes that vaccinated passengers will not need to be tested for Covid-19 in order to sail.
Cruise ship passengers who have been vaccinated will not need to take a test on embarkation day, disembarkation day or if they are doing a back-to-back cruise.
While the CDC recommends international arrivals in the United States be tested 3-5 days after arrival, it is not mandatory and will be up to the discretion of cruise lines if they are going to enforce this measure.
Non Vaccinated Passengers
Non vaccinated passengers will be required to prove that they do not have Covid-19. This includes mandatory testing on embarkation day, disembarkation day and doing a back-to-back cruise.
The CDC has advised that a PCR or Antigen test will suffice but it is up to each cruise line to decide on the type of test needed.
While the CDC recommends the more accurate PCR tests, this will most likely be unrealistic for cruise lines to administer due to the length of time it takes to receive the test results. At home tests that are supervised by a health care provide will not be accepted.
Passengers Showing Symptoms
Passengers that have come into direct contact with someone who has Covid-19 in the last 14 days or those who are showing symptoms will not be allowed to board cruise ships. This does not apply to passengers who have been fully vaccinated or can show proof of recovery within the last 90 days.
Proof of recovery according to the CDC includes an official positive test for Covid-19 no older than 90 days or a signed letter from a health care provider stating that the passenger has fully recovered.
Masks On Cruise Ships For Vaccinated Passengers
Cruise ship passengers who are fully vaccinated will not be required to wear masks outdoors as long as they aren’t in crowds, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.
“Cruise ship operators, at their discretion, may advise passengers and crew that — if they are fully vaccinated — they may gather or conduct activities outdoors, including engaging in extended meal service or beverage consumption, without wearing a mask except in crowded settings,”
Unvaccinated passengers will still be required to wear a mask outdoors including while tanning at pools or on sun decks.
All passengers will be required to wear masks indoors.
Shore Excursions and Buffet Service
Other changes made last week include the lifting of the mandatory ban on independent shore excursions. Cruise lines can now decide whether or not they will allow passengers to explore port stops on their own without an organized tour.
Buffet service will still be prohibited on all cruise ships and passengers are required to wear their masks as much as possible during meal service with the exception of while eating or drinking.
Fully Vaccinated Cruises
Multiple cruise lines have already announced that they will only allow vaccinated passengers on sailings. This is up to each individual cruise line to decide but the CDC has not made it a mandate.
Virgin Voyages, Richard Branson’s adult-only cruise line, will require all passengers and crew to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before boarding, the company has announced.
Crystal Cruises has also announced their plans for fully vaccinated cruises. “According to the latest scientific data and expert guidance, we have made the decision that guests must be fully inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine (with both doses if recommended by the manufacturer) at least 14 days prior to boarding any Crystal ship and will be asked to provide proof of vaccination before embarkation.”
Cruises Set To Return To The United States
After what has seemed to be month and month of delays, cruise lines are finally looking to restart operations in the United States this summer. Multiple cruise lines including Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Carnival have already began staffing their ships which is a positive sign that cruising may finally return.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com