Can you take a cruise if you are not vaccinated? Here are the COVID requirements for the best cruise lines


A cruise can be a fun way to see parts of the world at a slower pace. Incredible buffets, cool amenities and loads of trips, what’s not to love? But in the age of COVID, it’s understandable to wonder about the possibility of going on a cruise if you’re not vaccinated.

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What you need to know before booking your vacation on the high seas.

© Getty Images
What you need to know before booking your vacation on the high seas.

Let’s say it up front: the answer is a bit complicated, and a lot of it depends on the cruise line you are interested in. Here’s what you need to know before going on a cruise if you haven’t been vaccinated.

What the CDC is saying about going on a cruise right now

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 avoid taking any type of cruise.

According to the CDC, those planning to take a cruise should do the following:

  • Get tested for COVID-19 one to three days before your trip and three to five days after your trip, regardless of your vaccination status.
  • Self-quarantine for seven days after your cruise if you are not vaccinated, even if your virus test is negative. If you do not get tested, you must quarantine for 10 days.
  • Wear a mask in the shared areas of the cruise ship.

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Do you need to be vaccinated to go on a cruise?

Much depends on the policy of the cruise line and the port of departure. Here’s a quick look at the vaccination policies of several major cruise lines:

  • Carnival Cruise Company: Guests must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, though company allows a “very small number” of exemptions for children under 12 and teens and adults who can provide proof of exemptions medical.
  • Celebrity Cruises: Passengers aged 12 and over should be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before the ship departs.
  • Disney cruises: Customers 12 years of age and older should be fully immunized against COVID-19.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line: All guests and crew must be 100% vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Princess Cruises: All guests must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Royal Caribbean: Customers aged 12 and over must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

Overall, you must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to go on a cruise right now if you are eligible to be vaccinated.

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Why do cruise ships have such a bad reputation for disease?

At the start of the pandemic, cruise ships experienced major outbreaks of the virus as it spread across the world. But even before COVID arrived, cruise ships did not have the best reputation for being disease free. Reports of outbreaks of norovirus, a highly contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea, were not uncommon.

There are several reasons why viruses and disease can spread quickly on cruise ships, says Richard Watkins, MD, an infectious disease physician and professor of internal medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University. Health. “Cruise ships have tight quarters and are overcrowded,” he says. “It’s hard to distance yourself socially.” And when people are close to each other, it is easier for viruses to spread among them, he says.

With cruise ships allowing some unvaccinated guests, “the reality is that a person on the boat is likely to be infected with COVID-19, either because they were not vaccinated or because they were is asymptomatic with a breakthrough infection, “Thomas Russo, MD, professor and chief of infectious diseases at the University of Buffalo in New York City, tells Health.

Cruise ships often have restaurants and entertainment inside, which are areas that are prone to the spread of viruses, Dr. Russo points out. In the case of diseases like norovirus, “someone could contaminate the food buffet and it can spread quickly,” Dr Russo said, adding that “this is all because people are staying and moving around. proximity”.

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Why should people get vaccinated before going on a cruise?

Not only will being fully immunized will help you not get seriously ill with COVID-19, it can help protect those around you, says Dr. Russo.

There is also this to consider: many cruise lines test passengers before getting on the ship and before disembarking. “If you or someone in your group is positive, you won’t be able to board the boat at the last minute,” says Dr Russo. “You may also need to quarantine if you are infected on the boat and, if you are out of the country you will need to have a negative COVID test to come back. If you are infected you will need to hang in a hotel somewhere for ten days. “

Overall, Dr Russo says, it’s best to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before going on a cruise. “You really should get the vaccine,” he says.

The information in this story is accurate at the time of publication. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it is possible that some data has changed since publication. While Health tries to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed with news and recommendations for their own communities using the CDC, WHO and their local public health department as resources.

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