Several cruise lines are continuing to ease pandemic-era protocols by allowing passengers to self-administer COVID-19 tests.
Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Carnival cruise lines are easing their pandemic-era protocol by allowing unvaccinated travelers on more sailings, as well as accepting at-home COVID-19 tests for boarding.
Starting Sept. 5, Royal Caribbean will welcome both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers of all ages, according to the cruise line. Vaccinated travelers will be exempt from testing on cruises that are shorter than 10 nights, while unvaccinated travelers 5 and older will have to show proof of a negative test taken within three days of embarking on a sailing.
“Finally!!! All Guests, All Aboard,” Royal Caribbean’s President and CEO Michael Bayley wrote on Facebook. “We’re making it easier for more guests to sail with Royal Caribbean. Unvaccinated travelers can join us for almost all U.S. sailings.”
Royal Caribbean will accept a variety of tests as proof to board, including simply taking a photo of a self-administered home test, a new rule that Bayley also noted on social media.
Currently, Royal Caribbean requires travelers 12 and older to be vaccinated on U.S. cruises. The new protocols will not apply to cruises that visit Bermuda or Canada where testing and vaccine rules will still apply.
The change comes just over a week after Royal Caribbean first eased vaccine requirements for cruises departing from Los Angeles, Galveston, New Orleans, and any European homeport as well as weeks after Royal Caribbean eliminated testing for vaccinated passengers on shorter sailings.
Additionally, Celebrity Cruises will allow unvaccinated travelers starting Sept. 5 on all cruises that depart from a U.S. or European port, excluding cruises that visit Canada, according to the company.
Vaccinated travelers will not be required to get tested for cruises that are 9 nights or less. Unvaccinated travelers (who are 5 and older on most U.S. sailings and 12 and older on select European sailings) will be required to get tested within three days of boarding. Currently, Celebrity requires all guests 12 and older to be fully vaccinated to sail.
Beginning Sept. 5, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity will also accept at-home tests on trips from U.S. ports that don't visit Canada or Bermuda. Carnival will follow with the same at-home test allowance on Sept. 6.
On all itineraries departing Sept. 6 or later vaccinated guests will not need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test except on cruises 16 days or longer, according to Carnival. Unvaccinated guests will be allowed to use the results of a self-administered test if taken within three days of sailing. For cruises longer than 16 nights self-testing is not accepted for unvaccinated travelers.
The industry-wide trend comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially ended its pandemic-era program for cruise ships last month. The agency currently recommends all travelers are “up to date” with their COVID-19 vaccines before boarding a cruise.