On Monday, Norwegian Cruise Line made the long-awaited decision. The cruise line announced that all guests must be vaccinated in order to cruise.
In addition to guests being vaccinated, every crew member will also be required to have completed their shots. All of this with hopes of convincing the CDC to allow Norwegian to restart cruises as soon as July.
Norwegian Guests to Have Mandatory Vaccination
To get to this point and coinciding with last week’s CDC update to their Conditional Sailing Order, Norwegian developed a robust set of health and safety protocols that cover the entire cruise vacation. This plan is backed by guidance from Norwegian’s Healthy Sail Panel.
The cruise line began by informing travel agents with the new information requiring that all guests must be fully vaccinated. The full vaccination must be completed at least 2 weeks prior to departure, or guests will not be allowed to board.
Norwegian guests must be vaccinated for all cruise departures through October 31, 2021. An exact start date has not been determined. The cruise line stresses that they will follow the science to determine vaccine requirements for sailings from November 2021 and onward.
Guests Need to Show Proof of Vaccination
Each guest is required to submit proof of being vaccinated and completing the full amount of required doses for the vaccine. Norwegian Cruise Line states that proof that a guest has been vaccinated must be in one of two forms.
This can be the original vaccination record document issued by the country’s health authority that administered the vaccination or the guest’s medical provider/facility that administered the vaccine(s).
For residents outside of the U.S., the cruise line will accept electronic vaccination records if that is standard procedure in the guest’s country.
Are Unvaccinated Minors Allowed to Cruise
Guests who are not old enough to be vaccinated or otherwise not eligible to be vaccinated will not be allowed on the early sailings that run through October 31, 2021. Norwegian is sticking to their plan that only guests who are fully vaccinated are allowed to cruise.
Universal Testing and Pre-Embarkation Protocols
Before boarding, all guests will be required to take a COVID-19 antigen (rapid) test. The tests will be given and paid for by the cruise line. Guests of course must receive a receive a negative test result or they will not be allowed to board.
At ports visited, guests must comply with all local health and safety requirements that may include additional testing. Incoming non-U.S. passengers will need to follow any entry requirements when they arrive in the United States.
Norwegian Cruise Line has planned for a staggered embarkation process. They’ve created a new and faster check-in system that includes electronic signatures where needed.
The CDC has also listed requirements for embarkation, disembarkation at home ports and ports visited. Embarking and disembarking passengers will not be in the same enclosed spaces. Norwegian’s ships will initially sail at 60% passenger capacity and gradually increase every 30 days.
What to Expect On Board
In addition to sailing at reduced guest capacity, there will be hand sanitizer stations placed throughout the ship. Frequent hand washing will be encouraged. Contactless food and beverage service will be implemented across all ships. Service staff will be strategically stationed ship-wide, including at all restaurants and lounges.
Masks will be required
Masks must be worn by everyone while indoors, except in staterooms or while eating or drinking in the restaurants and lounges. When outdoors on deck, if social distancing cannot be done, then you will be expected to wear a mask.
Norwegian also states that anyone who refuses to comply with the health and safety requirements will be disembarked from the cruise at the next port of call.
In a move to protect the cruise line, all guests must sign and agree to accept the terms and conditions in their ticket contract. Guests will need to acknowledge the risks associated with taking a cruise during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as during shoreside visits. Anyone who refuses to agree with Norwegian’s terms and conditions will not be allowed to board.