Will I need a COVID-19 vaccine to cruise? A line-by-line guide

Jun 24, 2021

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Will you need a COVID-19 vaccine to cruise this summer?

With many cruise lines in the midst of restarting operations, it’s become a pressing question for cruisers — and the answer isn’t always clear.

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In recent months, more than two dozen cruise lines have announced plans to require passengers to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine before stepping aboard at least some of their vessels in the coming months (including, just a few weeks ago, Carnival Cruise Line).

But the vaccine mandates don’t always apply to every vessel in a particular cruise line’s fleet. And some lines have been changing their vaccine rules as restart dates for specific ships approach.

At the same time, a few lines have said they would not require passengers to be vaccinated for COVID-19 — at least for now.

In This Post

Which cruise lines have a vaccine requirement?

Cruise lines that have announced a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for all or at least some upcoming cruises include American Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea, Virgin Voyages and Windstar Cruises.

Lines that are restarting operations without requiring passengers to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine include MSC Cruises, Celestyal Cruises, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, and German lines TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

Lines that have yet to make a decision on a COVID-19 vaccine requirement include The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection.

Instead of making a COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for cruising, some lines are requiring that passengers show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a ship.

Some lines, such as Lindblad Expeditions and Disney Cruise Line, are requiring both proof of a COVID-19 vaccine and proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Other lines, such as Avalon Waterways and Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, are requiring either proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Here’s a line-by-line look at COVID-19 vaccine and testing policies at major ocean and river cruise brands:

AmaWaterways

Vaccine required? No

Note: AmaWaterways is asking passengers to show proof of either a COVID-19 vaccine or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of boarding one of the line’s vessels.

American Cruise Lines

Vaccine required? No

Note: American Cruise Lines does not have an across-the-board vaccine requirement for passengers, but passengers on some itineraries in specific regions or over specific time periods may face COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements. The line says it will communicate directly with passengers about them.

American Queen Steamboat Company

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers, effective for all sailings scheduled for July 1 and beyond. Due to Washington state guidance, vaccines have been required for sailings in the Pacific Northwest since the line resumed operations in the region on June 14.

Note: The line also is testing passengers for COVID-19 as they arrive for their cruises.

Avalon Waterways

Vaccine required? No

Alternate requirement: All passengers must show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to sail or proof of a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) taken no more than 72 hours before travel. Alternately, passengers can show proof that they have recovered from a confirmed case of COVID-19 within three months of travel.

Azamara

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers.

Carnival Cruise Line

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers

Note: Carnival only has announced the vaccine requirement for eight ships restarting service in July and August out of Seattle; Galveston, Texas; Long Beach, California; and Miami and Port Canaveral in Florida. It has not announced a vaccine policy for other ships that might return to service in later months.

Related: The ultimate guide to Carnival Cruise Line

Celebrity Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers who are 16 years of age or older (as of Aug. 1, the cutoff will drop to all passengers who are 12 or older). Younger passengers can sail with proof of a negative test for COVID-19.

Note: For Celebrity Silhouette sailings out of the U.K., the rule is that all passengers who are 18 years or older must be vaccinated. For sailings out of Florida, the line is asking passengers who are 16 years of age or older to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine but not requiring it, in order to comply with Florida law. Passengers on Florida sailings who do not show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine will be subject to additional screening including COVID-19 testing at their own expense.

Celestyal Cruises

Vaccine required? No

Alternate requirement: All passengers will be required to show proof of a negative PCR test for COVID-19 taken a maximum of 72 hours before embarkation. They also will be required to undergo a rapid test prior to boarding.

Crystal Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers

Cunard Line

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers

Note: Cunard only has announced the vaccine requirement for its initial cruising restart schedule for this summer, which will involve cruises around the U.K. for U.K. residents only.

Disney Cruise Line

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers who are 18 years of age or older. Passengers under the age of 18 can sail with proof of a negative PCR test for COVID-19.

Note: Disney only has announced the vaccine requirement for passengers taking part in its initial cruising restart scheduled for July in the U.K. The line has not announced whether or not it will require passengers to show proof of vaccination for other sailings.

Related: The ultimate guide to Disney Cruise Line

Emerald Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers

Grand Circle Cruise Line

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

Vaccine required? No

Alternate requirement: All passengers are required to show a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding the vessel. There is also a mandatory screening by thermal cameras for guests before boarding and a daily temperature check on board. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises currently only sail with residents of Germany, Austria and Switzerland for now.

Holland America

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers

Note: Holland America only has announced a vaccine requirement for sailings through the end of the year. These include initial sailings it plans to operate in the Mediterranean as well as voyages in the coming months out of Seattle, San Diego and Fort Lauderdale.

Lindblad Expeditions

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers who are 16 or older

Additional requirements: In addition to proof of vaccination, all passengers must show proof of a negative PCR test for COVID-19 taken prior to leaving home for their cruise. The line also will test passengers arriving for cruises at the pier using a rapid antigen test.

MSC Cruises

Vaccine required? No

Alternate requirement: MSC Cruises has been requiring passengers to test negative for COVID-19 in advance of boarding.

Related: The ultimate guide to MSC Cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers on departures through at least Dec. 31.

Note: Norwegian has not yet made a decision about whether passengers will be required to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine on departures beyond Dec. 31.

Related: The ultimate guide to Norwegian Cruise Line

Oceania Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers

Overseas Adventure Travel

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers

P&O Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers

Ponant

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers who are 17 or older. Passengers under the age of 17 can sail with proof of a negative PCR test for COVID-19.

Princess Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers

Note: Princess only has announced a vaccine requirement for sailings through the end of the year. This includes sailings around the U.K. for U.K. residents only and cruises to Alaska scheduled for the summer as well as fall sailings out of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale.

Related: The ultimate guide to Princess Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

Vaccine required? Under evaluation

Note: The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection has not yet announced whether or not it will require passengers to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test for COVID-19 to sail.

“The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection continues to evaluate all of our options for protecting the wellbeing of our guests … and the communities to which we will sail,” the line said in a statement sent to TPG.

Related: The ultimate guide to The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection 

Riviera River Cruises

Vaccine requirement? No

Note: Riviera is requiring passengers to show proof of either a COVID-19 vaccine or a negative COVID-19 test. If there’s a cost for the COVID-19 test, Riviera will pay it.

Royal Caribbean

Vaccine required? Sometimes

Note: Royal Caribbean has implemented several different vaccine policies in different parts of the world. The line is requiring passengers 16 years old or older to have a COVID-19 vaccine on departures out of most U.S. ports including Seattle and Galveston, Texas. But passengers will not be required to be vaccinated for sailings out of Florida ports.

On most sailings departing from non-U.S. ports, passengers 18 years of age or older must have a COVID-19 vaccine. On sailings out of Nassau in the Bahamas, passengers 16 years of age or older are required to have been vaccinated.

Related: The ultimate guide to Royal Caribbean

Saga Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers

Seabourn

Vaccine required? Yes

Note: Seabourn has announced a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for initial cruises it plans to operate out of Piraeus, Greece and Bridgetown, Barbados, starting in July. It hasn’t said yet whether it will have a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for other future sailings.

Sea Cloud Cruises

Vaccine required? No

Alternate requirement: All passengers will be required to show proof of a negative PCR test for COVID-19 taken no more than 72 hours before embarkation. A PCR or antigen test will also be performed during embarkation. Only guests with a negative result are allowed to board.

Silversea

Vaccine required? Yes

Note: Silversea says the requirement will apply to all upcoming Silversea voyages globally with the exclusion of sailings departing from Australia. The line says it still is evaluating health protocols for future Australia sailings.

Star Clippers

Vaccine required? Under evaluation

Note: Star Clippers has not yet made a decision as to whether or not it will require passengers to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test for COVID-19, according to a spokesperson.

Swan Hellenic

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers

Tauck

Vaccine required? No

Alternate requirement: All passengers must show proof of a negative PCR test for COVID-19 taken a maximum of five days before departing from home for their cruise.

UnCruise Adventures

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers who are 18 years of age or older. Passengers under the age of 18 can sail with proof of a negative PCR test.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Vaccine required? No

Alternate requirement: Passengers can either show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test (either PCR or rapid) taken within 72 hours of sailing.

Victory Cruise Lines

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers

Viking

Vaccine required? Yes

Note: Viking only has announced a vaccine requirement for its initial “welcome back voyages” planned taking place now through the summer in Europe and around Bermuda. The line hasn’t said what its longer-term policy will be. The line also is testing passengers for COVID-19 with a PCR test in advance of embarkation and regularly during sailings.

Virgin Voyages

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers

Windstar Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

For whom: All passengers

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Featured image courtesy of Royal Caribbean

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