Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced on July 6, 2022 that it will drop pre-cruise COVID-19 testing requirements for all of its brands effective August 1, 2022. The company oversees Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
However, the announcement will not affect all departures. Cruise departures from all homeports in the United States, Canada, Greece and Bermuda must continue to follow pre-cruise testing protocols. However, this is a big step in bringing cruises back to pre-pandemic conditions and easing travel restrictions, and will certainly be welcomed by cruise travelers.
No more pre-cruise testing for limited ports of embarkation
In a press release dated July 6, 2022, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings stated: “Guests will no longer be required to take pre-cruise COVID-19 tests unless required by local regulations.”
The policy will not take effect immediately, but will begin on August 1, 2022.
Also, not all departures are affected by the announcement.
“Pre-embarkation testing requirements remain in place for guests currently traveling on voyages departing from destinations with local testing regulations, including but not limited to the United States, Canada, Greece and Bermuda.” read the statement.
However, this means that Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which embark in many European homeports, will no longer require pre-cruise testing.
During August, Norwegian Cruise Line operates cruises from Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Southampton, Reykjavik, Rome, Stockholm and Venice.
Also Read: Norwegian Cruise Ships – From New to Old and Classes
Oceania Cruises has August sailings from Reykjavik, Malta, Lisbon, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Stockholm, Paris, Rome and Oslo, while Regent Seven Seas Cruises has August sailings from Rome, Southampton, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Istanbul.
Normality is slowly returning
This huge step will ease restrictions on travelers as testing centers can be harder to find in the limited timeframes just before a cruise and testing at home is not always possible.
“The easing of the testing policy is in line with the rest of the travel, leisure and hospitality industries globally as society continues to adapt and return to a state of normalcy.” it says in the press release.
However, this does not mean that other health and safety protocols will be relaxed.
Norwegian Cruise Line holdings “remains strongly recommending that all guests stay up to date on vaccination protocols and test as they wish prior to travel,” read the statement.
The company also clarified that its SailSAFE health and safety program will continue and be adjusted as necessary, and that each cruise brand will continue to comply with all local restrictions and guidelines in ports of call.
Cruise travelers should note that these policies are always customizable and may change at short notice should conditions require stricter protocols. Travelers booked for upcoming voyages should remain in close contact with their cruise line for updated information and changes as their sailing date approaches.
Will other testing requirements end?
Will other cruise lines follow NCLH’s lead and end pre-cruise testing as well? No other lines have yet made similar statements or taken steps to end testing entirely, but several lines have made limited exceptions to testing requirements.
Viking Cruises was the first company to end pre-cruise testing fleet-wide beginning June 10, 2022, but the exemption only applied to cruises in regions where testing was no longer a local requirement. Because of this, the exemption had limited impact, but enabled the Viking Cruises fleet to easily end testing when policies change in different areas.
P&O Cruises is currently testing limited exceptions No pre-cruise testing is required for Excellence class departures from Southampton Iona from June 25th to July 23rd. After this period, the testing requirement will be reinstated unless the policies are further modified.
Holland America Line is also there Abolition of pre-cruise testing requirements for three trips from Rotterdam from Amsterdam, with departure dates on July 10, July 17 and July 24, 2022. Same as P&O Cruises Ionapre-cruise testing will resume after these three voyages.
Because Norwegian Cruise Line Holding’s broad announcement applies to all cruises and not just limited voyages on a single ship, new announcements may follow.
Further relaxation of pre-cruise testing will also depend largely on local policies and restrictions. For cruises departing from US cruise ports, this means the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines may need to change before cruise travelers are no longer required to test themselves before setting sail.
At this time, there’s no indication that the CDC will change cruise testing requirements any time soon, but the organization is constantly reviewing new data and updating its guidelines.
Stay tuned to Cruise Hive for more announcements and breaking news as travel conditions change around the world.