Norwegian Cruise Lines drops COVID-19 safety protocols

Officials with Norwegian Cruise Lines on Monday announced that the company is dropping its requirement that unvaccinated travelers be tested for COVID-19 before embarking on a cruise, citing “significant, positive progress in the public health environment.”

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Effective Tuesday, the new protocols still require visitors to follow the vaccination and testing guidelines mandated by cruise destinations. The requirements vary by country and by a person’s age, with some countries requiring testing, some requiring vaccination and some requiring neither.

The requirement was the last of the cruise line’s precautions prompted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Masks have been optional on all sailings for months. Last month, Norwegian Cruise Lines dropped its COVID-19 vaccination requirement for people ages 12 and older.

“With the relaxation of travel requirements around the world, we’re thrilled to welcome all guests back on our ships to cruise freely to the places they’ve been dreaming of — regardless of vaccination status and with no testing requirements,” cruise line officials said in a statement on the company’s website.

On Monday, officials with Norwegian said the change to COVID-19 protocols made the company’s guidelines “more aligned with other global travel organizations.”

Testing requirements remain in place for unvaccinated travelers on other cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise Line.

Cruise lines adopted safety protocols aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 after the global pandemic halted sailings for months. In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it had ended a COVID-19 monitoring program focused on cruise ships.

“Many travelers have been patiently waiting to take their long-awaited vacation at sea and we cannot wait to celebrate their return,” Harry Sommer, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, said Monday in a statement.