As the cruise industry has had its way from the coronavirus-related March 2020 through to the July 2021 shutdown, many people have postponed their sailing trip until it’s back to “normal”. This is a relative word, however, your normal nature and mine may not be the same.
Some people waited on a cruise until masks were no longer needed while others didn’t come on board until all coronavirus-related protocol was gone. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stopped tracking the presence of coronavirus on ships and issued a new set of guidelines for the cruise industry. These recommendations included that ships continue to require pre-flight testing and vaccination of passengers.
Here’s what the CDC currently recommends when it comes to vaccines.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all qualified travelers Be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations. In addition to the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide for individual travelers in preventing severe illness or death from COVID-19, having a high proportion of passengers on board who are familiar with COVID-19 vaccines reduces the likelihood that cruise ships will be overwhelmed with medical centers COVID-19 cases.”
The guidelines also state that 90% is what a “high percentage” of travelers mean. This number is down from 95% and was generally thought to be a figure for children too young to be vaccinated to be on a plane.
Now, one major cruise line has decided the 90% figure can include adults and allow unvaccinated passengers to set sail.
Virgin Voyages welcomes unvaccinated passengers
Three major cruise lines sail from US ports – Royal Caribbean International (RCL) – Get Royal Caribbean Group Reportand Carnival Cruise Lines CCL and Norwegian Cruise Line NCLH – pre-cruise covid tests still require no more than two days before your cruise and that all guests over 12 provide proof of vaccination.
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Virgin Voyages, a fledgling cruise line sailing one of its ship, the Scarlet Lady, from Miami dropped pre-flight testing requirements after the CDC stopped covid monitoring on cruise ships. Now, billionaire Richard Branson’s cruise brand has quietly decided to allow some unvaccinated “sailors,” as it calls its passengers, on its upcoming cruises.
The company shared this information in an email sent to people who have booked on upcoming cruises.
“We still require the majority of sailors (90%) to be vaccinated, but we are opening our flights to a limited number (10%) of non-vaccinated sailors to join us. Our crew will remain immune just as they are as always, your safety is our number one priority, so we will continue with our other protocols To keep you healthy while enjoying your relaxing vacation,” the cruise line shared in the email.
Virgin opens the door for Royal, Carnival, Norwegian
Every other cruise line has a tough decision to make. Some of its current passengers have chosen to set sail because every adult on board has been tested and vaccinated. This creates peace of mind that you don’t get on other types of vacation.
Of course, there are also some passengers who have not sailed because they have not been vaccinated or are not interested in sharing their vaccination status with the cruise line. The question for Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian becomes which changes will increase the number of passengers on their ships?
Virgin does not allow children on its ships, so it was sailing with a 100% vaccination rate. If Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian allow unvaccinated adults but keep the vaccination figure of 90% which could limit the number of families that can book cruises on these lines, which are marketed as family cruise lines.
This is not an easy decision, partly about people’s health and partly about keeping your business healthy. Plus, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian sail to far more ports than Virgin Voyages do, and cruise ships must also comply with local rules (and some destinations require vaccinations for anyone 12 or older even if they don’t disembark the ship.
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