Norwegian Cruise Line has announced changes to its vaccination policy that will go into effect for sailings beginning March 1. As of that date, unvaccinated children under the age of 12 will be allowed to sail on all of the ships in the line’s fleet.
How Vaccination Policy Update Impacts Cruisers
The cruise line will not be requiring booster shots at this time, as it has opted into the “Highly Vaccinated” level of the Center for Disease Control’s latest guidance. That said, Norwegian pointed out in a letter to travel advisors that cruisers should “keep in mind that many countries, especially Europe, also require guests who have been fully vaccinated for more than a certain number of months to be boosted as well to visit.”
This means that although Norwegian Cruise Line as a brand will not be requiring that kids under 12 are vaccinated, some destinations along its itineraries may have stricter vaccination requirements. As a result, it is possible that some places visited by a ship will have rules in place which require boosters or even pre-disembarkation testing.
Although Norwegian’s website currently makes no mention of on-site testing for unvaccinated children, the letter to travel partners does. Specifically, it reads that “all unvaccinated guests under the age of 12 on sailings from or to a US port will be subject to additional testing at embarkation and disembarkation” in keeping with the CDC guidelines.
The letter adds that “NCL will facilitate and cover all costs associated with embarkation and disembarkation testing” for those who are unvaccinated and under the age of 12. If this is the case, Norwegian Cruise Line will provide free testing at the terminal.
Mask, Testing Policies Also Updated
March 1st is also the date when Norwegian Cruise Line will stop requiring that guests wear masks while on board ships. They do, however, continue to “recommend” that masks be worn in indoor locations when not actively eating or drinking and in outdoor situations where social distancing is not possible.
That is also the date on which the line will stop testing all guests at their point of embarkation, although passengers are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen or PCR test result, administered by a verified third party or via a medically-supervised home test. The test must be taken within two days before boarding a cruise from a U.S. port and three days before boarding a cruise from a non-U.S. port.
Prior to March 1, COVID tests are being conducted at the cruise pier. However, guests who are unable to provide the results of a negative COVID test will be able to obtain testing at the pier at their own expense.