3 more cruise lines to require COVID-19 vaccine booster shots
Three more cruise lines soon will require passengers to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot before sailing.
Small-ship specialist Lindblad Expeditions, which is known for adventurous trips to such off-the-beaten-path places as Antarctica and the Arctic, on Thursday announced it would add a booster shot requirement starting on March 1.
The new requirement will apply to all passengers ages 12 and older who completed their primary vaccination series more than five months ago, Lindblad said.
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The announcement follows similar proclamations in the last two days from luxury line Silversea Cruises and upscale brand Azamara. Both brands also plan to implement the requirement on March 1.
The three brands are following in the wake of more than half a dozen other cruise companies that have announced plans in recent weeks to add a booster shot requirement.
The other brands include small-ship specialist UnCruise Adventures, which will require booster shots starting on Feb. 5, and German luxury brand Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, which is implementing a booster shot requirement on Feb. 14.
Other cruise operators that have added a booster shot requirement for all or at least some sailings in recent weeks include Viking, Grand Circle Cruise Line, Overseas Adventure Travel, P&O Cruises and Cunard Line.
For all of the lines, the booster shot requirement is in addition to a requirement that all passengers who are eligible be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. But the specifics of the policies vary slightly from line to line.
Related: There’s COVID-19 on nearly every cruise ship. Here’s what you need to know
Hapag-Lloyd, for instance, will not require the booster if fewer than three months have passed since a passenger was fully vaccinated -- two fewer months than the cutoff in Lindblad's requirement. The lines also differ at times in their wording on which vaccines will be allowed.
In its announcement Tuesday, Lindblad said it would accept Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) boosters for all travelers. It said it also would accept the Astra-Zeneca booster for non-U.S. passengers only. Passengers who received any other WHO-recommended vaccines should check with the line when making a reservation, Lindblad said.
Silversea, by contrast, says it will accept any vaccine that is fully approved or authorized for emergency use by the U.S. FDA or the World Health Organization.
"Lindblad’s dedicated COVID-19 Global Policy Team meets daily to keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s happening globally, and as the latest research and public health recommendations evolve, so do their policies," the company said Thursday in a statement accompanying its announcement.
The new booster shot requirements come in the wake of the omicron variant-related surge in COVID-19 cases around the world since Thanksgiving. In some parts of the world, including the United States, the surge already has peaked and is in decline. But COVID-19 case counts remain high in many areas.
The cruise industry has been the most aggressive segment of the travel industry in requiring customers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Most of the world’s major cruise lines require all or most passengers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — a policy that many lines implemented when they restarted operations in 2021.
All of the world’s major cruise lines paused operations in early 2020 after the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic. Most didn’t resume sailings for more than a year.
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