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Two more cruise lines announce vaccine requirement

Feb. 02, 2021
4 min read
Two more cruise lines announce vaccine requirement
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Make that three cruise operators that will require all passengers to get a COVID-19 vaccine before cruising.

Indiana-based river line American Queen Steamboat Company and sister brand Victory Cruise Lines on Tuesday Feb. 2 became the first North American cruise brands to announce that passengers will need to show proof of being vaccinated for COVID‑19 before stepping on a vessel when cruising resumes later this year.

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The two brands are following Folkstone, England-based Saga Cruises, which made a similar announcement late last month.

While American Queen and Victory hope to restart voyages in the coming months, both of the lines said the new vaccine mandate wouldn't go into effect until July 1. That will allow time for the vaccine to become readily available.

The American Queen steamboat. (Photo courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company)

Until then, the lines will implement a wide range of previously announced anti-COVID-19 health measures that include pre-cruise testing of all passengers and crew for the illness and a mask mandate in all public areas where social distancing is not possible.

The previously announced measures will continue after the vaccine requirement goes into effect.

The two lines on Tuesday also announced a vaccine requirement for all crew on their vessels.

“The health and safety of our guests, crew members and partners continues to remain our top priority," the CEO and founder of American Queen Steamboat Company, John Waggoner, said in a statement accompanying the announcement. "Vaccination requirement for both our guests and crew is the most prudent next step to ensure that we are providing the safest cruising experience possible.”

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Related: 14 things you should do before every cruise

Waggoner said the new requirement, on top of the other previously announced measures, would "give our loyal guests another added level of assurance to join us as we return to sailing.”

The majority of American Queen and Victory passengers are over the age of 65, which means they're already now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or soon will be.

Passengers who are unable to receive a full two-shot dose of currently available COVID-19 vaccines in time for an upcoming cruise will be able to rebook at no cost, the lines said. Those who have no intention of receiving the vaccine should contact the reservations department.

American Queen operates four riverboats on the Mississippi River complex and in the Pacific Northwest. Victory has three vessels that sail in the Great Lakes and around U.S. coastal waterways from New England to Alaska. Victory also offers cruises to Mexico and Canada.

Many other lines are looking at such a vaccine requirement, too.

In December, the top executive of the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises said its lawyers were examining the legality of such a requirement for passengers.

Related: How to plan a cruise with points and miles

“It will certainly be a requirement for the crew,” Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio said in a Zoom chat with the president of Travel Leaders Group, a major cruise seller. “But it’s too early to tell whether we have the legal standing to mandate that you take a vaccine to come onboard — lawyers are looking at it as we speak.”

In a recent research report, Truist analyst C. Patrick Scholes suggested a vaccination requirement could become the norm at upscale and luxury lines such as Oceania, Regent and Silversea, based on what he’s hearing from people in the industry.

Vaccination requirements at mass-market brands were less likely, he said.

“The deciding factor for the companies may be if a cruise brand will gain more customers by requiring a vaccine than they will lose by not requiring it,” Scholes said. “In that case, it becomes a marketing issue.”

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Featured image by The American Queen steamboat. (Photo courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company)
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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The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

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  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

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  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023