Which Cruise Lines Require COVID-19 Vaccines to Sail?

Penni Schewe

The return of cruising is a reason to celebrate after a long and dry 15 months. But even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provisionally cleared cruises to sail at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, figuring out how to do so as a passenger requires some research. While vaccinated passengers will have an easier time getting on board, the actual requirements vary by cruise line and even by state.

Despite what it’s being called by each cruise line — Traveling Well, Sailing With Safety — the idea behind all of the new health protocols is ultimately passenger and crew wellbeing. The following is a breakdown of current COVID-19 health and safety requirements by cruise line.

Where a vaccine requirement is noted, that indicates that the second dose has been administered at least 14 days prior to boarding. Most cruise lines do not accept mixed vaccines. Check CDC and cruise line guidelines for more on which vaccines apply.

Photo: MartinLueke / Shutterstock.com. 

Cruise Lines Requiring Full COVID-19 Vaccination

Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) recently made headlines when it sued the State of Florida over its ban on mask and vaccine mandates.

Guests boarding any cruise line in the NCLH portfolio — Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, or Regent Seven Seas — are required to be vaccinated for all sailings embarking through October 31, 2021.

Unvaccinated Guests: Unvaccinated guests, including children under 12, are not permitted aboard a Norwegian, Oceania, or Regent cruise at this time. This guidance might change on or following November 1, 2021.

Crew Requirements: All NCLH crew are required to be fully vaccinated.

Princess Cruises
COVID-19 vaccines are currently required to sail onboard a Princess cruise. Children are welcome but must be vaccinated.

Unvaccinated Guests: Are not permitted on a Princess ship at this time.

Crew Requirements: Crew are not immediately required to have the vaccine, but safety practices are being upheld “in accordance with the CDC guidelines.”

Holland America Line
Vaccination against COVID-19 is required for all guests aboard any Holland America cruise in 2021, regardless of age.

Unvaccinated Guests: Are not currently permitted onboard a Holland America cruise.

Crew Requirements: Holland America Line is vaccinating its crew on an ongoing basis.

Seabourn Line
Guests onboard Seabourn Ovation’s Greece departures now through October 16, 2021, and Seabourn Odyssey’s Caribbean itineraries now through October 31 must be fully vaccinated, regardless of age.

Unvaccinated Guests: While protocols for other 2021 itineraries outside of Greece and the Caribbean are still being finalized, it means that unvaccinated guests are not permitted on board a Seabourn cruise for the time being.

Crew Requirements: Vaccination for all crew members on board Seabourn is “our intent,” according to its website.

Cruise Line Vaccination Rules
Photo: Viking 

Viking Cruises
Viking requires that all passengers on its ocean or river cruises are vaccinated against COVID-19. Viking Ocean is an adults-only cruise line, so anyone 18 years or younger is typically not permitted.

Unvaccinated Guests: Will not be permitted to sail with Viking at this time.

Crew Requirements: Crew onboard Viking Cruises are required to be COVID-19 vaccinated.

Windstar Cruises 
Vaccines are required to cruise with Windstar. The cruise line will still administer a COVID-19 antigen test to each guest prior to boarding, free of charge, and masks are required in public areas.

Unvaccinated Guests: Are not permitted aboard.

Crew Requirements: Windstar is working on getting its crew fully vaccinated. June and early July sailings of Star Breeze were canceled due to low vaccination numbers among the crew.

Virgin Voyages
Vaccines are required to sail at this time with Virgin Voyages. As an adults-only cruise line, children are not permitted on board. Regular temperature checks and other onboard measures will be enacted to monitor the health and safety of guests that the line calls “sailors.” COVID-19 testing will be provided if needed, free of charge.

Unvaccinated Guests: Both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests are encouraged to wear masks in public indoor areas of the ship and maintain social distancing when possible.

Crew Requirements: Crew are required to be vaccinated and are subject to bi-weekly COVID-19 testing.

Cruise Line Vaccination Rules
Photo: Silversea

Cruise Lines Requiring Adults and Some Children to Have COVID-19 Vaccinations

Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea Cruises, and Azamara
The cruise lines of Royal Caribbean Group (Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Silversea, and Azamara) follow similar COVID-19 safety requirements, but there are differences.

Royal Caribbean
Vaccine requirements for Royal Caribbean International vary widely by age and port of departure. On or after August 1, 2021, anyone 12 years or older must be vaccinated on cruises departing from Seattle; Galveston; and Nassau, Bahamas. Guests 18 years and older must be vaccinated for departures from Barcelona; Limassol, Cyprus; and any other international departures.

Due to current laws in the State of Florida, Royal Caribbean is strongly recommending but unable to require guests 12 years and older to be vaccinated prior to boarding.

Unvaccinated Guests: Cruisers without proof of vaccination will be considered unvaccinated and are subject to additional health protocols, including COVID-19 testing, at their own expense. On or after August 1, guests 12 and older are also required to provide proof of a travel insurance policy at their own expense.

Celebrity Cruises
The cruise line is running at a ratio of 95 percent vaccinated, which means there is room for a 5 percent population of unvaccinated passengers. As of August 1, all guests 12 years old and up must be vaccinated; 18 years and up for UK sailings on Celebrity Silhouette.

Silversea Cruises
All passengers and crew must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to participate in a Silversea cruise.

All passengers and crew must be vaccinated against COVID-19 and are subject to additional testing by the cruise line.

Crew Requirements: Royal Caribbean Group requires all crew members on all its cruise lines, including those employed at its private islands like Perfect Day at CocoCay, to be fully vaccinated.

Disney Cruise Line
Right now, Disney has suspended sailings on all of its ships. This includes Disney Dream through August 6; Disney Fantasy through August 28; Disney Wonder through September 19; and Disney Magic departures in the U.S. through November 4. (DCL will be sailing limited UK sailings this summer aboard Disney Magic.) When sailings resume, all guests 18 years and older are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to sail onboard a Disney ship.

Unvaccinated Guests: All guests, ages 11 and up, are required to wear masks in all indoor public areas of the ship.

Crew Requirements: Status not available, however, the CDC is requiring a 98 percent vaccination rate among the crew to resume sailings.

Cunard Line
To start, Cunard is running a series of coastal cruises that are for UK passengers only, now through October 1, 2021. Guests of all ages must be vaccinated to sail. For sailings from October 13 to December 31, 2021, guests 18 years old and above are required to be vaccinated. Guests 17 years of age or younger either require the vaccines or a negative PCR test within 72 hours prior to travel.

Unvaccinated Guests: Children up to 17 years old require a negative COVID-19 test if they are not vaccinated on sailings on or after October 13, 2021.

Crew Requirements: Status not available.

Crystal Cruises
All guests 12 years of age and older are required to be vaccinated.

Unvaccinated Guests: A limited number of children 12 and younger will be permitted to sail with Crystal on its ocean cruises, however, children’s programs and in-room babysitting have been temporarily suspended. Children are never permitted onboard Crystal’s river or yacht offerings.

Crew Requirements: All crew members are required to be vaccinated and are regularly tested.

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic
Proof of vaccination is required for all guests 12 years and older for sailings on or after August 1, 2021. A negative COVID-19 test is also required prior to embarkation along with a second rapid antigen test administered by the staff. Face coverings are required onboard in public areas.

Unvaccinated Guests: Only children under the age of 12 are exempt from the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

Crew Requirements: All Lindblad staff and crew are required to be fully vaccinated.

UnCruise Adventures
All passengers 18 years old and above must have the COVID-19 vaccine to join an UnCruise voyage. On August 20, 2021, that guidance changes to passengers age 12 and older.

Unvaccinated Guests: Are only permitted if they are children under 18 until August 20, when the age becomes children under 12.

Crew Requirements: Crew must be vaccinated to work aboard an UnCruise ship.

Luxury line Ponant is requiring all passengers over the age of 16 to be vaccinated in order to board.

Unvaccinated Guests: Only children without a vaccine would be permitted onboard

Crew Requirements: Ponant requires its crew to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Paul Gauguin Cruises
As requested by 94 percent of the cruise line’s passengers, vaccines will be required for guests 16 and older to sail onboard Paul Gauguin when it resumes sailings after August 21, 2021.

Unvaccinated Guests: Unvaccinated adults are not allowed on board, but children 16 and under are permitted. Negative COVID-19 tests will be required three days prior to cruising as well as at embarkation, for all guests.

Crew Requirements: Crew members are required to be vaccinated.

Cruise Line Vaccine Rules
Photo: Carnival Cruise Line. 

Cruise Lines Not Requiring a COVID-19 Vaccination

Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival is not requiring COVID-19 vaccines to cruise, but strongly encourages them as the capacity for unvaccinated guests is extremely limited, and requires additional testing, paperwork, fees, and mask usage.

Unvaccinated Guests: There is a process by which unvaccinated guests may sail.  The line has been sailing with 95% of guests and crew vaccinated since its restart on July 4th weekend, which means a limited 5% of passengers are allowed to be unvaccinated.

However, this availability is limited and comes with a set $150 fee to each individual’s Sail & Sign card to cover the cost of additional testing (children under 2 are exempt). Also in effect for passengers 12 and up is proof of travel insurance at check-in, beginning for cruises on or after July 31 for Florida departures, and on or after August 2 for departures from Galveston, Texas. Additionally, there is no independent sightseeing permitted in ports of call for unvaccinated guests (private ports excluded). Limited excursions called “bubble tours” are currently being offered in all other ports.

Crew Requirements: A majority of the crew is vaccinated on current sailings, as part of the 95 percent of all people on board who are required to be vaccinated by the CDC.

Costa Cruises
Vaccines are not required to board a sailing on Costa Cruises. Anyone 6 years old or older on a seven-day cruise or longer will be subject to a swab test mid-cruise. Temperature checks are required at least once daily by 8 p.m.

Unvaccinated Guests: Are welcome. If any guest 2 years of age or older lives in what is determined as a “risky area” by Costa or has been in contact with one in 14 days prior to cruising, they are required to arrive for check-in at least 5 hours ahead of time to undergo testing, complimentary of the cruise line.

Crew Requirements: Status not available.

MSC Cruises
Vaccination is not a requirement to sail onboard MSC Cruises at this time. However, all guests, vaccinated and unvaccinated are subject to additional screening, including a COVID-19 test, as well as a mandatory insurance policy in either English, Italian, German, French, or Spanish. Masks are required for all guests in indoor public areas of the ship.

Unvaccinated Guests: Are welcome onboard, as long as they undergo a molecular or antigen test and are negative 48 hour prior to boarding (children 2 years and younger are excluded). If a guest has had COVID-19, they must be recovered for a minimum amount of 6 months prior to boarding.

Crew Requirements: Unlike passengers, the crew must be vaccinated. Additionally, all crew must wear PPE and are subject to screening, medical checks, and a COVID test prior to embarking as well as daily health monitoring.

A caveat for cruises in Florida and Texas
While cruise lines are moving forward in enforcing their own health and safety measures on all sailings, it’s worth noting that they are currently unable to require vaccines or the use of masks when docked in the states of Florida and Texas.

Florida, home to the two largest passengers cruise ports in the U.S. with Miami and Fort Lauderdale, has a controversial state law in place, enacted by its governor in May. The executive order blocks any business or government entity from requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In early June, Texas adopted a similar law, complicating matters for Carnival, which sails from the port of Galveston.

On June 14, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings sued the surgeon general of Florida, claiming that it would be unable to safely resume sailings with the restrictions on vaccines and masks in place.

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