Return to cruising: Important things to consider.

Return to cruising: Important things to consider.

Last Updated on December 27, 2021 by tripcentral

Who is required to be vaccinated on a cruise ship?

All cruise lines have a requirement that guests 12 and over must have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days before sailing.

Child Vaccination policies:

Carnival:  A limited number of unvaccinated children are permitted per sailing.

Celebrity, MSC, Royal Caribbean:  A negative test 48 hrs prior and a negative test at the pier

Disney:  Age 5+ must be vaccinated.  Under 5 years – Negative PCR test 72-24 hrs prior to sailing

Princess, Holland America, Norwegian: Children must be fully vaccinated to sail regardless of age.

Which Vaccines are being accepted?

  • Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (2 doses)
  • Johnson & Johnson (1 dose)
  • Any mixed combination of Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca

What are the COVID-19 testing requirements before sailing?

Most cruise lines require proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of boarding the ship, even for those who are fully vaccinated.  

Advance Antigen test within 48 hours of sailing:  Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, MSC (2+ years old), Norwegian (sailings 18JAN22 and after), Royal Caribbean

At Pier Testing:  Disney, Norwegian (sailings up to 17JAN22), Princess (free)

Are there other Health Requirements before Sailing?

All cruise lines require that passengers fill out a health questionnaire before their cruise 48-72 hrs before cruising. Most lines have an app that can be downloaded to complete the questionnaire. Some will also allow it to be filled out at the pier.

Carnival: All guests must answer a single pre-cruise vaccine attestation question that can be done in the cruise manager. Carnival will also send it by email, if not filled out within 48 hours of email receipt, your booking will be cancelled. A health questionnaire is also required, completed online or at the pier prior to boarding.

What are the testing requirements to return back to Canada?

Currently, all travelers returning to Canada require a negative PCR test completed within 72 hours of their return. Most major cruise lines are equipped to administer these tests on board and some are offering the service free of charge to their guests (subject to change).

Onboard PCR tests:  Celebrity ($95 USD), MSC (80 Euros), Holland America and Norwegian – testing is done free of charge.

At Pier PCR test upon disembarkation:  Princess (1hr result – Free), Royal Caribbean (1 hr result – $210USD)

Not Offered:  Carnival Cruise lines do not offer the testing service onboard their ships, so any Canadian travellers sailing with Carnival will have to make their own arrangements for testing after disembarking the ship and before flying back to Canada.   PCR testing is available at pharmacies, but we recommend not booking a flight until evening at the earliest or the next day.

Will Masks be required onboard?

On most ships, masks will be required while moving around in public spaces like elevators, retail shops, entertainment spaces, and restaurants until seated.

Norwegian, Celebrity: Facemasks are not required anywhere onboard. (Celebrity: unvaccinated children under 12 must wear masks)

Royal Caribbean: In vaccinated-only designated spaces masks are not required.

What will the dining experience be like?

The dining experience will feel quite similar to what we have become accustomed to here in Canada. Across all lines, the regular dining options are running. Guests will be required to wear a mask while moving around the restaurant but will be able to remove it once they are seated at their table. In most cases, if the dining venue is buffet style the self serve options will be replaced by staff serving the guests. 

Carnival, Norwegian: Buffet has returned to self-serve.

What are some of the safety procedures being implemented onboard?

All cruise lines have developed enhanced health and safety protocols as they begin to welcome guests back to their ships. Some of these may include:

  • Hand sanitizer stations around the ship
  • Physical barriers, such as plexiglass
  • Enhanced cleaning procedures
  • Reduced capacity to facilitate physical distancing
  • Air filtration systems
  • Mandatory masks & vaccination for all crew members
  • Virtual muster drills

Will I be able to take shore excursions?

Shore excursions are available but are subject to the local entry requirements of each port. Vaccinated travellers have more options.  It is recommended (and required in some destinations) to book excursions directly through the cruise line. Some ports of call will only allow guests to participate in approved tours while some allow free movement around the destination. Destination entry requirements can change at any time. 

Required shore excursion booking through Cruise line: Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Panama, St. Kitts, and St. Lucia

On the water taxi back to the ship

What if I decide to cancel or I test positive for COVID-19?

Each individual line will have its own terms for cancellation which can change at any time. Some cruise lines are enforcing their regular cancellation policies for reasons not related to COVID-19, while others are more relaxed to build confidence. All lines are offering cancellation options in the case that a guest tests positive prior to their cruise that allows them a future cruise credit.  

Celebrity, Royal Caribbean: (Booked by Dec. 14, 2021, for sailings to May 4, 2022) Cancel up to 48 hrs prior for any reason to receive a future cruise credit.

Carnival, Norwegian: Regular cancellation policies apply with a couple of COVID-19 related exceptions (positive test within 14 days or Government restrictions that prevent travel to the ship).

Princess & Holland America: (Booked by Dec. 31, 2021, for sailings to Apr. 30, 2022) Cancel up to 30 days prior for a future cruise credit for any reason. Can cancel within 30 days if someone in the travel party has a positive COVID-19 test.  

MSC: (Booked by Dec. 31, 2021, for sailings to Sept. 30, 2022) Can cancel for any reason up to 48 hrs prior for a future cruise credit.

Disney: Can cancel for a refund or change dates within 14 days of departure if a guest has a positive COVID test or exposure.