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

Aug. 26, 2022
19 min read
vials with the COVID-19 vaccination
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.


When the first cruises allowing Americans restarted in spring 2021, all major lines were sailing with at least 90% of passengers vaccinated against COVID-19. That meant they required just about everyone on board to have their shots, with few exceptions allowed for young children and people who can’t be vaccinated due to medical conditions or religious beliefs.

But now, little more than a year later, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has withdrawn its opt-in guidance for cruise lines, and many are now allowing more unvaccinated passengers to sail.

So, will you need a vaccine to cruise? Click on your favorite cruise line below to find out.

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Note: In order to be considered "fully vaccinated," passengers must have received their final shot (not including boosters) at least 15 days prior to embarkation. Most lines only accept vaccines (or a combination of vaccines) recognized and approved by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Generally, proof of inoculation must include your name, the type of vaccine you received and the dates on which you received all required doses.

Booster shots are not required unless specifically noted. However, keep in mind that the rules may vary by country, with some lines requiring boosters for international departures due to local regulations, or for extra-long sailings like ocean crossings, when port calls are few or nonexistent. Passengers who have their boosters are considered "up to date," rather than merely "fully vaccinated."

Check out our recap of youth immunization policies for details on cruise vaccination requirements for kids. For general information on testing, please refer to our article on cruise testing requirements.

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RAYCHEL BRIGHTMAN/NEWSDAY RM/GETTY IMAGES

AmaWaterways

Vaccine required? Yes

AmaWaterways is requiring proof of vaccination for all passengers, including children 5 and older, until further notice. Passengers will be asked to upload proof of vaccination no later than 21 days prior to beginning travel and have proof available at embarkation. An exemption process is in place that will allow a small number of unvaccinated passengers to sail, but the line boasts vaccination rates approaching 100% in an attempt to comply with rules for all countries their ships visit. Only those who are not vaccinated will be required to provide negative results from an antigen or PCR test no more than 48 hours old.

American Cruise Lines

Vaccine required? No

American Cruise Lines does not have an across-the-board vaccine requirement for all passengers on all sailings. However, cruisers on some itineraries in specific regions or over specific time periods may be required to be vaccinated. Pre-cruise testing is no longer required.

American Queen Voyages

Vaccine required? Yes

Vaccines are required for all passengers until further notice, and proof must be provided prior to boarding. Pre-cruise testing is no longer required.

Related: What happens if someone tests positive for COVID-19 on your cruise

Atlas Ocean Voyages

Vaccine required? Yes

COVID-19 shots are compulsory for all passengers cruising with Atlas, with proof of inoculation required before embarkation. The line doesn’t allow kids younger than 8 years old to sail, so young-child exemptions aren’t a factor. Passengers must also present negative results from a COVID-19 test taken no more than 24 hours before embarkation for antigen tests and no more than 72 hours prior for PCR.

Avalon Waterways

Vaccine required? Yes

All passengers must show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to sail. Testing requirements vary by country.

CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Azamara

Vaccine required? Sometimes

Through November 30, 2022, all passengers, ages 12 and older, must be inoculated to cruise with Azamara, and proof is required. All passengers eligible to receive boosters are also required to have at least one. Azamara does not require negative test results in order to board unless mandated by local governments in the ports where the line's ships sail. Beginning December 1, 2022, the line will waive vaccination requirements for all passengers on Europe and Caribbean itineraries, except where required by local regulations.

Carnival Cruise Line

Vaccine required? Sometimes

Beginning September 6, 2022, Carnival will allow unvaccinated passengers to sail on voyages of fewer than 16 nights without requesting exemptions. Testing requirements have also been waived for vaccinated cruisers on voyages of fewer than 16 nights. Guests who have not had their shots will still have to test prior to embarkation and show negative results no more than 72 hours old. Unproctored antigen test results are now accepted for all passengers when testing is required, except on long cruises, where tests will still have to be proctored. Other exceptions to these waivers include sailings that call on or sail to/from Australia, Bermuda, Canada and Greece. Passengers on cruises of 16 nights or more who are eligible for boosters must have received them.

Celebrity Cruises

Vaccine required? Sometimes

Starting September 5, 2022, Celebrity will allow everyone to sail from most ports on most itineraries, regardless of vaccination status, as long as they meet local testing requirements. Fully vaccinated passengers no longer need to test for sailings from the U.S. that are nine nights or fewer (except those visiting Bermuda or Canada); longer sailings require tests taken within three days of departure. Unvaccinated children ages 5 and younger do not need to test on sailings from the U.S. (again, Bermuda and Canada cruises are the exceptions); on voyages from Europe, unvaccinated passengers 12 and younger do not need to test.

Where local regulations require testing, Celebrity will simply require travelers to provide negative results from any publicly available test, including unproctored antigen tests (except on sailings that visit Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Greece or New Zealand, where proctored tests are needed).

The major exceptions to these policies are ocean crossings. Passengers booked on those sailings will need to provide proof of vaccination and show negative results from a proctored test taken no more than two days prior to embarkation day.

Related: Cruise ship contact tracing: How the world’s major lines are tracking COVID-19 exposure

Celestyal Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

Celestyal requires all passengers 12 and older to show that they have received a full course of inoculation via one of the WHO-approved shots. In lieu of proof of vaccination, cruisers may show a certificate of recovery not more than six months old. Booster shots are required for anyone 18 or older who had their final initial dose more than nine months prior to their sailing date. Given that Celestyal operates out of Greece, which still has stringent protocols, all passengers will be required to provide negative results from a PCR test no more than 72 hours old. They will also be required to undergo a rapid antigen test at the pier on embarkation day.

ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Cunard Line

Vaccine required? Yes

All Cunard passengers, regardless of age, must be fully vaccinated and provide proof before boarding. Additionally, all passengers who received their final initial dose more than 270 days prior to boarding must also have received — and show proof of — a booster shot. Pre-cruise testing has been waived for vaccinated cruisers on most itineraries. Exclusions include voyages of 16 nights or more; itineraries that the line labels as "complex"; and sailings that begin in, end in or visit Australia, Canada and other countries with testing requirements.

Disney Cruise Line

Vaccine required? Yes

Beginning September 2, 2022, Disney Cruise Line requires all passengers 12 and older to provide proof of full inoculation as a condition of sailing. Through September 22, 2022, cruisers who have their shots will have to provide negative results from a PCR or proctored antigen test taken no more than 48 hours before embarkation; unvaccinated guests must provide negative results from a PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to boarding and take a second test at the pier before boarding. Beginning September 23, 2022 (November 7, 2022, for Disney Magic), fully vaccinated passengers will no longer have to provide negative test results in order to sail, and passengers who don't have their shots will no longer be required to undergo a second test at the pier.

Emerald Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

COVID-19 shots are a requirement for all travelers, regardless of age, who are cruising with Emerald. Passengers must be current, which means if they're eligible for boosters, they must have received them. Testing will be required in line with the rules of the countries from which Emerald's vessels depart.

Grand Circle Cruise Line

Vaccine required? Yes

Grand Circle has mandated that all passengers must be fully vaccinated as a condition of carriage. Boosters are also required. Proof must be provided, preferably in the form of an original vaccine card. Pre-cruise testing might be required, depending on your port of embarkation. (The line will send you that information prior to your sailing.)

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

Until further notice, Hapag-Lloyd voyages are only available to fully vaccinated passengers 12 and older. Additionally, all eligible passengers 12 and older must have their booster shots in order to sail. Testing requirements default to the rules of the area where the embarkation port is located. The line will send passengers further details.

SARAH L. VOISIN/THE WASHINGTON POST/GETTY IMAGES

Holland America

Vaccine required? Sometimes

Holland America now allows unvaccinated passengers to sail on cruises of 15 nights or fewer without filing exemption requests, and they no longer need to provide negative results from a COVID-19 test. Exceptions include long cruises and sailings that call on or sail to/from Australia, Bermuda, Canada and Greece, where vaccines and testing are likely to be necessary. Passengers on cruises of 16 nights or more who are eligible for boosters must have received them.

Hurtigruten

Vaccine required? Yes

Per Norway’s regulations, Norwegian coastal voyages do not list vaccination as a requirement for boarding. For other Hurtigruten sailings, rules vary according to departure region. To and from the United States, cruisers 5 and older must be fully vaccinated. For Galapagos sailings, all travelers 3 and older must show proof of vaccination. For all other areas, guests 12 and older must be inoculated, with passengers 5 to 11 years old showing proof of at least one shot. Passengers 18 and older who received their final vaccine dose more than 270 days prior to sailing must also show proof of a booster. Testing requirements vary by location.

Lindblad Expeditions

Vaccine required? Yes

Beginning September 1, 2022, passengers younger than 5 years old will no longer need to be vaccinated. Boosters also are no longer required for passengers of any age, except on longer voyages, including those to Antarctica. Beginning October 1, 2022, pre-cruise testing is no longer required, including at embarkation. Exceptions might apply for departures from certain destinations.

Related: Why I feel safer now on a cruise ship than in my hometown

MSC Cruises

Vaccine required? Sometimes

Effective September 1, 2022, U.S. passengers sailing with MSC Cruises are no longer required to be vaccinated before sailing to the Caribbean or Bahamas. Fully vaccinated travelers will still be required to show proof of inoculation at embarkation, and those who are unvaccinated will need to provide a negative PCR test result that's no more than three days old. Fully vaccinated cruisers will not have to test prior to sailing. Travelers 12 and older from countries outside the U.S. will still need to be fully immunized, and all passengers 2 and older, regardless of vaccination status, will still need to provide negative test results before embarking.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Vaccine required? No

In early August 2022, Norwegian Cruise Line became the first major cruise line to say it would roll back vaccine requirements. From September 3, 2022, passengers will not have to provide proof of vaccination. Those 12 and older who do provide it will be exempt from pre-cruise testing. Those who do not will need to provide proof of negative antigen or PCR test results that are no more than 72 hours old. Cruisers 11 and younger are exempt from both providing proof of vaccination and from testing. Beginning Oct. 4, 2022, the line will no longer require testing for cruisers who don't show proof of vaccination.

MORSA IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES

Oceania Cruises

Vaccine required? No

Beginning September 3, 2022, passengers on Oceania voyages will not have to provide vaccine documentation in order to sail. Those 12 and older who do show proof will be exempt from pre-cruise testing. Those who do not will need to provide proof of negative antigen or PCR test results that are no more than 72 hours old. Children 11 and younger are exempt from both immunization and testing.

P&O Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

Everyone 12 and older on all P&O Cruises sailings must show proof of full vaccination. Children 11 and younger can sail with either full vaccination or additional pre-cruise testing. Anyone 16 or older whose final dose was more than 270 days from the conclusion of their scheduled sailing must also show proof of a booster.

Ponant

Vaccine required? No

Ponant's website simply says that "when you visit certain destinations, vaccines can be recommended." The line also says it will alert passengers to their specific requirements after they have booked a voyage. Testing information was not immediately available.

Princess Cruises

Vaccine required? Sometimes

Beginning September 6, 2022, Princess passengers on voyages of 15 nights or fewer will no longer be required to be vaccinated in order to sail. Unvaccinated cruisers will need to self-test no more than three days prior to embarkation and show proof of negative results. Travelers who show their vaccine cards will be exempt from testing. Exceptions include Panama Canal transits, ocean crossings and other specialty voyages. On sailings of 16 nights or more, passengers will need to show proof of vaccination, and proctored testing is required for all passengers, regardless of immunization status.

RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Vaccine required? No

Starting September 3, 2022, passengers on Regent cruises will no longer have to provide vaccine documentation in order to sail. Those 12 and older who do show proof will be exempt from pre-cruise testing. Those who do not will need to provide proof of negative antigen or PCR test results that are no more than 72 hours old. Children 11 and younger are exempt from both inoculation and testing protocols.

Royal Caribbean

Vaccine required? Sometimes

Of the major cruise lines, Royal Caribbean has issued some of the most confusing protocol changes to date. Starting September 5, 2022, all guests can sail, regardless of vaccination status. Unvaccinated passengers can cruise with negative results from any commercially available test, including self-tests. No testing is required for vaccinated passengers on voyages of nine nights or fewer. On sailings of 10 nights or more, all travelers must provide negative results from any test taken within three days of embarkation. For all sailings, passengers 5 years and younger have no vaccine or testing requirements. (Due to local regulations, sailings that visit Australia, Bermuda, Canada and Singapore still require passengers to be vaccinated.)

Saga Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

Saga requires vaccinations for all passengers unless an official medical exemption is provided and approved prior to sailing. Children are never allowed to travel with the line, which caters only to cruisers 50 and older (and travel companions who are at least 40 years old), making age-related exceptions irrelevant. For the line’s river cruises, passengers who are eligible must also show proof of a booster shot. The line will test passengers at the embarkation port, but recommend that guests test at home prior to travel.

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours

Vaccine required? Yes

Passengers embarking on river and ocean voyages with Scenic will need to be fully immunized prior to sailing. Boosters will be required if all countries on an itinerary require them. Otherwise, passengers will be allowed to embark with only their initial doses. Proctored testing is still required in some countries and will be provided by the line pre-cruise.

ZACH HONIG/THE POINTS GUY

Seabourn

Vaccine required? No

From September 6, 2022, Seabourn cruisers will only need to show vaccination proof if they want to avoid pre-cruise testing. Anyone who does not produce a vaccination card will need to show negative results from either a self-test or a proctored test taken no more than 72 hours before embarkation.

Silversea

Vaccine required? No

Effective September 5, 2022, Silversea will not require shots for its passengers. Cruisers who are not fully vaccinated or who are unable to show proof of their shots at embarkation will be required to provide negative results from a proctored antigen or PCR test taken in the 72 hours prior to boarding. Fully vaccinated travelers are no longer mandated to test prior to sailing. Policy exceptions include sailings from countries that still require vaccination and testing.

Star Clippers

Vaccine required? No

Effective on Royal Clipper beginning November 5, Star Clipper November 19 and Star Flyer November 26, Star Clippers will no longer require passengers to be vaccinated in order to sail. However, cruisers who do not provide proof that they are inoculated must show negative results from a proctored antigen test no more than 48 hours old or a proctored PCR test no more than 72 hours old.

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Tauck

Vaccine required? Yes

Until further notice, all Tauck travelers 12 and older will have to show proof of full vaccination in order to set sail on a voyage with the brand. They must also be up to date on their shots, meaning they’ve been boosted if their final initial dose was more than 270 days prior to the voyage. In lieu of a booster, a passenger may show a certificate of recovery no more than 180 days old. Children younger than 12 who are either unvaccinated or not boosted must submit negative PCR test results that are no more than three days old in order to board. Additional testing might be required, based on guidelines of individual countries visited.

UnCruise Adventures

Vaccine required? Yes

All UnCruise passengers are required to have all applicable doses of an approved vaccine before they can sail. Medical and religious exemptions are not allowed. Booster shots are also mandatory for all eligible passengers. Although pre-cruise testing is not required, the line recommends passengers test themselves before leaving home to avoid potentially carrying the virus on their travels.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Vaccine required? Yes

All passengers eligible to be vaccinated must be inoculated in order to cruise with Uniworld. Testing requirements are determined by the countries the ships visit; check the protocols for the places on your itinerary for the most up-to-date information.

Viking

Vaccine required? Yes

All Viking passengers, whether on a river sailing or an ocean voyage, must be fully vaccinated, and although boosters are not required by the line, they are required by some countries that its ships visit. Testing requirements vary by country and departure port; most sailings on Viking Orion out of the U.S. and Canada require testing for all passengers.

Virgin Voyages

Vaccine required? Yes

Beginning September 18, 2022, on Valiant Lady and September 21, 2022, on Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages will allow everyone to sail, regardless of vaccination status. (Virgin is a child-free line, so exemptions are not based on age.) Virgin has eliminated testing requirements for passengers who are inoculated; anyone who does not provide proof of their shots will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 72 hours before embarkation. Alternatively, unvaccinated travelers can pay $75 to be tested at the port on the day of boarding.

Windstar Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

Windstar is mandating shots for all passengers until further notice, with proof required before setting sail. The line notes that passengers also could be required to be boosted in certain countries. Effective September 6, 2022, Windstar is dropping its pre-cruise testing requirements, except in countries — including Canada, Greece, Australia and New Zealand — that still require tests.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

Additional reporting by Gene Sloan.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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