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Mask-free cruising from March

Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have relaxed Covid regulations onboard  

Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line announced a relaxation of mask rules from 1 March 2022, and now Carnival cruise brands have also adopted new Covid guidelines for ships in US waters, in line with changes to rules about masks and testing.

Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Seabourn and Princess Cruises have confirmed they will participate in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated programme for cruise ships operating in US waters.

They will continue to operate vaccinated cruises but with two key changes: for cruises departing from 1 March 2022, masks on board will be recommended but not required. There may, however, be certain venues and events where masks will be required.

Also, for cruises departing from 1 March, some more flexibility in pre-cruise testing requirements will become available.

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Carnival Cruise Line said it will continue to meet the standard of vaccinated cruises, but children under five years old will not be included in any vaccinated guest calculation and will not be required to receive an exemption to sail.

Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said: “The public health situation has continued to improve, providing confidence about these changes. Our protocols will evolve as we continue to remain dedicated to protecting the public health of our guests, crew and the communities we visit.”

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John Padgett, president at Princess Cruises, commented: “Going forward, Princess is prepared to adjust operating protocols to ensure our guests have amazing vacations while always protecting the safety of our guests, team members and destinations.”

The changes come after the CDC lowered the travel health notice risk rating for US cruise ship passengers from ‘very high’ to ‘high’ last week.

The CDC continues to advise Americans against taking a cruise if they are not up to date with Covid-19 vaccines and to maintain mask wearing indoors, despite some lines planning to drop this requirement.

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