Do I need to wear a mask on my cruise? A line-by-line guide
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
Since the restart of the cruise industry, I’ve been on more than a dozen sailings, and I have several more planned for the rest of 2022. At this point, a mask feels like a permanent part of my facial anatomy. However, with restrictions easing, it can be difficult to know when you’re required to wear a mask on a cruise ship and when you’re not.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allowed its voluntary Conditional Sailing Order to expire in January. The order has been replaced by a new color-coded opt-in system that will rate cruise lines based on the percentage of passengers for whom COVID-19 vaccinations are required.
Because of the high inoculation rates on board, many lines are starting to roll back their mask mandates. The first to do so was Norwegian Cruise Line, which shocked the industry, given the line’s notoriously strict stance on pandemic protocols.
So, which cruise lines require masks? Here, you’ll find a line-by-line breakdown of whether masks are required on board and, if so, where and when.
Note: In mid-April, a federal judge in Florida struck down the CDC’s mask mandate for public transportation, but most cruise lines are still requiring passengers to mask up at the terminal during embarkation and disembarkation.
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Azamara no longer requires masks to be worn on its ships, although it still recommends them. The line also warns that masks could be required by ports of call their ships visit.
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival no longer requires masks on its ships, except in select areas. Passengers must wear masks during the entire embarkation and debarkation process, while indoors during any Carnival-approved shore excursions and while on any transportation vehicles, including tenders. Masks may also be required when ashore, per local guidelines.
Celebrity has made masks optional for vaccinated passengers. Unvaccinated cruisers must wear masks indoors except while eating or drinking or when they’re in their own cabins. This policy may vary based on local port requirements.
Cunard only requires cruisers to wear face masks that cover their nose and mouth when in the theater or medical center, as well as during embarkation and disembarkation or when required by local regulations.
Disney Cruise Line
Face coverings on Disney Cruise Line are optional throughout the line’s ships. Guests between the ages of 2 and 5 who are unable to be vaccinated must wear masks in designated youth areas, as well as the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Vaccinated passengers are not required to wear masks, except on motorcoach transportation, at the cruise terminal and in select ports where it’s required by local protocols.
Holland America Line
Masks are optional but encouraged in most areas on Holland America Line‘s ships. Cruisers are advised to pay close attention to onboard signage, which will indicate where masks need to be worn. Certain ports of call might require passengers to wear face coverings while they are ashore.
Effective April 23, masks will be optional on MSC cruises. The only exceptions are unvaccinated passengers (children between the ages of 2 and 5) in indoor areas on board and all passengers at the cruise terminal when embarking or disembarking. Until then, masks are required in indoor areas for all passengers.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian no longer requires passengers to wear masks on board for non-Europe sailings. Mask wearing is encouraged when social distancing cannot be maintained, but it is not required. On Europe sailings, travelers will still be required to wear masks while indoors.
Passengers on Oceania sailings are not required to wear masks, but they are strongly encouraged to do so. These regulations may change based on local port requirements.
Princess no longer requires wearing masks on board. Guests may be required to wear masks in some onboard venues; in these cases, Princess will have signage pointing out the requirement.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Passengers on Regent voyages no longer need to wear masks, but they will be strongly encouraged to do so. The policy is subject to change based on local port requirements.
Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean has dropped its mask mandate for vaccinated passengers. Unvaccinated children older than 2 must wear masks in all indoor areas, including the youth center. The line has also done away with is separate areas for vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers. Masks are required at the terminal when embarking and disembarking the ship, as well as in ports where local regulations require it.
Seabourn cruisers are not required to wear masks, but they are encouraged to do so in areas where crowds congregate. Passengers must wear masks during embarkation and disembarkation, as well as on transportation as part of line-sponsored excursions. Masks are still required on board Seabourn Encore.
Passengers on Silversea cruises are only required to wear masks in the casino, in the theater and during muster drills. Otherwise, they are optional on board but strongly encouraged.
For its ocean, river and expedition sailings, Viking follows local requirements. With that in mind, mask policies may vary from itinerary to itinerary. In general, when masks are required, they must be worn in indoor public areas. They are not required in cabins, when outdoors or when eating or drinking.
Virgin Voyages passengers are no longer required to wear masks on board the line’s ships.
When sailing with Windstar in the Caribbean, cruisers are no longer required to wear masks. Face coverings may be required in some destinations, such as French Polynesia.
Featured photo courtesy of Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy.
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