Norwegian Cruise Lines Updates Vaccination Policy, Drops Mask Requirementsby Dori Saltzman /
Starting March 1, all passengers aged 5 or older will need to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to departure to sail on any Norwegian Cruise Line ship. And, for the first time since the cruise line returned to sailing, it will allow unvaccinated children (4 or younger) onboard.
Additionally, the line will drop its masking requirement as of March 1. And, all guests will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen or PCR test to sail, but the line will no longer provide complimentary antigen tests at the port.
“Maintaining the health and safety of our guests, crew, and communities we visit continues to be our first priority,” said a spokesperson for NCL. “As such, given the progress in the current public health environment, we’ve updated a few of our health and safety protocols and requirements.”
“All guests five and over as well as crew are required to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to departure and must show proof of vaccination at the terminal in order to board the vessel,” the spokesperson told Travel Market Report.
Though unvaccinated children of 4 and younger are welcome onboard, the line is committed to following all CDC requirements and limiting the number to “well under” five percent of the total guest occupancy on each cruise.
Onboard Mask Requirements
Starting March 1, mask-wearing will be “at guests’ discretion,” though the line continues to recommend them.
“We recognize the added protections provided when wearing a face mask covering and recommend that all guests do so onboard when indoors, except when actively eating or drinking, or seated at a table in a dining setting, or when in the stateroom.”
For Europe sailings specifically, masks will continue to be required as local government regulations still mandate that masks be worn onboard cruise ships while indoors except for when actively eating or drinking or when in their stateroom.
NCL also reminds passengers that mask-wearing may be required in destinations its ships visit.
Also effective March 1, NCL will no longer require COVID-19 testing at the pier prior to embarkation. However, passengers will be required to test at home prior to departure and show proof of their negative antigen or PCR test at check-in.
Tests must be administered by a verified third party within two days prior to boarding for cruises originating from a U.S. port or within three days prior to boarding for voyages departing from a non-U.S. port. Passengers may also use a medically supervised home test from emed.com or BioReference's Scarlet service taken within the same time frames.
Guests who are unable to provide proof of a negative result at embarkation can pay to be tested at the terminal.
According to the spokesperson, having people test on their own before sailing “will allow for a more streamlined check-in process with minimal person-to-person contact and limited wait time.”