Put down the swabs: 2 major lines drop some pre-cruise testing requirements

Jul 6, 2022

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Two of the cruise industry’s biggest brands, Holland America Line and Norwegian Cruise Line, have dropped pre-cruise testing requirements in select ports, eliminating one of the biggest concerns for passengers embarking abroad.

Effective July 10, Holland America has waived pre-cruise testing requirements for its newest ship, Rotterdam, on select Amsterdam-to-Norway itineraries.

“As health protocols around the world continue to evolve, we are adjusting our policies to align with those of the countries we visit,” the line said in a statement. “As a result, for the July 10, 17 and 24 voyages departing from Amsterdam and traveling to Norway, guests will not be required to undergo pre-cruise COVID-19 testing or provide a negative test result at embarkation.”

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(Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

Similarly, Norwegian Cruise Line will drop its pre-cruise testing requirements on nearly all sailings from Europe and other locations outside of North America, effective Aug. 1, 2022.

“Effective for sailings 8/1/22 and beyond for cruises originating in any port except a U.S. port, Canadian port or Piraeus, Greece: All guests are exempt from all pre-cruise COVID-19 testing requirements,” reads a portion of the Sail Safe section on NCL’s website.

“The pre-embarkation testing requirement will remain in place for guests currently traveling on voyages departing from destinations with local testing regulations,” the line said in a statement. “The relaxation of the testing policy is in line with the rest of the travel, leisure and hospitality industry worldwide as society continues to adapt and return to a state of normalcy. We continue to strongly recommend all guests be up to date on vaccination protocols and test at their convenience prior to travel.”

As lines that have opted into the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s voluntary COVID-19 safety protocols, both Holland America and Norwegian will continue to require passengers departing on cruises from the U.S. to test prior to sailing, regardless of vaccination status.

Throughout the cruise industry’s restart, both pre- and post-cruise testing have been pain points for passengers — particularly those sailing on voyages that begin or end in foreign ports. Eliminating pre- and post-cruise testing abroad also eliminates the risk of someone testing positive before their cruise and being denied boarding or testing positive after a sailing and subsequently being forced to isolate for several days before returning home.

In June 2022, the U.S. dropped its test-for-entry requirements for travelers arriving by air, alleviating stress for U.S. cruise passengers whose itineraries end in foreign ports. (Before the requirement was waived, anyone arriving in the U.S. by cruise ship was not required to test, but those whose voyages ended in foreign ports were forced to test in order to fly home.)

These rollbacks join other relaxed protocols, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, which have been optional on most cruise lines for months.

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Featured photo by Grace Cary/Getty Images.

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