Pax Global Media
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) will be eliminating its vaccine requirement for sailings, instead mandating that unvaccinated travellers test negative for COVID-19 prior to boarding.
In a company update shared Monday (Aug. 8), NCLH, easing protocols for three brands – Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises – said unvaccinated guests may embark on a sailing with a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to departure (subject to local regulations).
Vaccinated guests aged 12 and over also will no longer have any pre-cruise COVID-related protocols
The industry-first policy change, part of NCLH’s “SailSAFE” health and safety program, will go into effect for sailings with all three brands that commence on or after Sept. 3, 2022.
Requirements may differ for guests travelling on voyages departing from or visiting destinations with specific local regulations, including but not limited to Canada, Greece and Bermuda.
At the same time, NCLH still “strongly” recommends all guests be up to date on vaccination protocols and test prior to travel.
“Our long-awaited revisions to our testing and vaccination requirements bring us closer in line with the rest of society, which has learned to adapt and live with COVID-19, and makes it simpler and easier for our loyal guests to cruise on our three best-in-class brands. Health and safety is our top priority and we will continue to modify our robust SailSAFE program as the public health environment evolves,” said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of NCLH.
“The relaxation of protocols coupled with continued easing of travel restrictions and the reopening to cruise in more ports around the globe are meaningfully positive for our business as it reduces friction, expands the addressable cruise market, brings variety to itineraries and provides additional catalysts on the road to recovery.”
In summary, the fleet-wide changes include:
- Vaccinated guests aged 12 and older will no longer have any pre-cruise COVID-19 related protocols;
- Unvaccinated guests, aged 12 and older, or those who cannot or decline to provide proof of vaccination, will need to present a negative "medically administered" PCR or Antigen COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours prior to boarding;
- Guests aged 11 and under will not be subject to vaccination requirements or testing protocols of any kind;
- Vaccinated guests must meet the generally-accepted definition of “fully vaccinated” based on the destination they are embarking and/or travelling to and must provide proof of vaccination
The change comes as other cruise lines, such as Azamara, Virgin Voyages, Margaretville at Sea, Celebrity and Carnival, have eased their pre-embarkation testing policies following the CDC's ending of its Cruise Ship COVID-19 program.
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