Travel in 2022 is reaching record highs levels are people around the world return to traveling. Airports and planes are full, rental cars and hotels are sold out, and theme parks are busy. Yet, despite a blockbuster summer of travel, cruise lines have still been struggling. Unlike the rest of the industry, cruise lines have had special covid and reporting requirements, unique to only cruises. Although last week this changed as the CDC said that Cruise lines can manage their own COVID-19 mitigation. Officially ending multiple years of Cruise Covid requirements and regulations.
COVID Case Reporting No Longer Required
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ended its COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships last Monday.
“CDC has worked closely with the cruise industry, state, territorial, and local health authorities, and federal and seaport partners to provide a safer and healthier environment for cruise passengers and crew. Cruise ships have access to guidance and tools to manage their own COVID-19 mitigation programs.”
The CDC added that “while cruising poses some risk of COVID-19 transmission, CDC will continue to publish guidance to help cruise ships continue to provide a safer and healthier environment for crew, passengers, and communities going forward.” – USA Today
Following several outbreaks on ships across the world, a no-sail order was issued in March of 2020 for all cruise ships that served the United States. Quickly bringing the industry to a standstill for nearly a year. Cruises did come back in the summer of 2021, but with strict testing, masks, and vaccine requirements. Since that time, the industry has been following strict guidelines to allow passengers to cruise safely.
Cruise Covid Requirements – Vaccine and Test Restrictions Eased
Over the last year, under guidance of the CDC restrictions have slowly been eased to make cruising easier for all. I went on two Holland America Cruises in October 2021 and April of 2022. Both cruises required pre-departure testing and masks while indoors. Now, most cruise lines require proof of vaccination, but some are dropping testing requirements.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. has announced that its guests will no longer have to complete pre-embarkation COVID-19 testing unless required by local regulations. This policy will go into effect across Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises starting August 1, 2022.
The adults-only party ships, Virgin Voyages, allow for 10% of passengers to travel unvaccinated. Virgin Voyages also was the first to end pre-departure COVID testing. Making travel easier for all guests.
Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruise lines require vaccination of all passengers older than 5 and all passengers to test negative to board. Meanwhile, MSC and Carnival cruise lines do not require vaccination until a child reaches age 12. Testing is still required.
Many other expedition cruise lines and premium and luxury ships are still requiring vaccinations and testing. Lindblad Nat Geo, Seabourn, Holland America, and Hurtigruten all require vaccines and embarkation testing.
Cruise Industry Still Struggles
Unlike the rest of the travel industry, the cruise industry is still struggling to fill their ships. From a ton of skewed bad press and additional regulations not seen by other sectors of the industries, people have not been as quick to return to cruising. Most companies have the majority of their fleets back in service. Yet even so, many ships are not sailing at full compacity due to staffing issues.
As the industry crawls back, I have seen the best deals for cruises this year. If you haven’t thought about cruising before, now is the time to grab an amazing deal. Antartica trips which typically cost over $15,000 per person, have been attractively priced between $9,000 and $12,000. Even luxury trips to the Galapagos have been highly discounted.
Those looking for something closer to home or less expensive can easily find trips to Alaska or the Caribbean and Mexico for between $500 and $900 per person. Sometimes even less if you’re interested in a last-minute sailing. Many cruise lines are throwing in complimentary addon too, such as free excursions, complimentary alcohol, and specialty beverages, and upgraded specialty dining. All in hopes to make the entire experience more enjoyable and economical.
The cruise industry is excited to welcome you back to cruising. The end of the CDC requirements for cruises may make it easier for some to travel. There is a web of Cruise Covid requirements, which are different depending on the cruise line and destination. Further complicating it for travelers. Hence why I always advise you to work with a travel advisor who can guide you to the cruise line that matches your needs and budget. Plus, I can help you navigate the ever-changing regulations.