Carnival Cruise Line and Virgin are making a big change that passengers will love

Covid hasn’t really gone away. The disease has apparently become less deadly as vaccines and treatments have become more readily available, but the pandemic is not over. It just moved to a new stage where people worry less about getting sick and take fewer precautions.

With hospitals having room to treat the most severe cases, covid has come a little closer to the flu – at least in the way we treat it as a society. This means that most areas of American life have abandoned any pretense of worrying about covid.

Social distancing has become a thing of the past, as have mask requirements and mandatory testing. The travel industry has adhered to these rules longer than other parts of society, but hotels, airlines, theme parks and casinos have all abandoned all covid rules and precautions (aside from recommendations on what to do if you feel sick).

The cruise industry has been very slow to completely abandon covid rules. At first it was because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was monitoring positive cases on board and setting standards for testing, masks and vaccination. That changed in July when the CDC decided to drop its oversight of cruise lines.

This has led all major cruise lines to change their protocol, but they have all done so at different speeds. Now Virgin Voyages, which has led the pack in removing requirements, has made another major move as Carnival Cruise Line (CCA) followed (at least partially) but Royal Caribbean International (RCL) doesn’t.

Virgin, Carnival Drop Covid Rules

Virgin Voyages requires passengers (sailors in cruise line parlance) to be at least 18 years old. This has already eliminated some protocols as the cruise line has not had to consider having different covid related rules for children under 12.

Now the cruise line founded by Richard Branson has dropped all covid testing and vaccine requirements. Previously, Virgin Voyages required vaccinated passengers to present their vaccination card while unvaccinated passengers had to present a negative test.

“We have lifted all vaccine and testing requirements,” Virgin shares at the top of its homepage.

The cruise line explains the move in more detail when you click on the site.

In line with the rest of the travel industry, we have removed all vaccine and testing requirements starting 10/30/22 on Valiant Lady and 10/28/22 on Scarlet Lady.

Although all sailors no longer require COVID-19 testing prior to their embarkation date, if a sailor exhibits signs or symptoms of an illness upon check-in (or while traveling), Virgin Voyages will reserves the right to test this sailor and his traveling companion. (s) for COVID-19 at the terminal (or on board), and will cover the cost of testing.

Carnival Cruise Line has adopted a similar policy on its eponymous brand and its Holland America line. It dropped vaccination requirements for cruises of 15 nights or less. It also dropped testing requirements for unvaccinated passengers on cruises of less than 16 nights.

Royal Caribbean maintains (some) Covid rules

While Virgin Voyages and Carnival (at least on some of its brands) have essentially dropped all covid rules, Royal Caribbean has kept some testing requirements in place. Cruise line dropped vaccine requirements, but unvaccinated passengers still need to be tested

Vaccinated passengers do not need to be tested for cruises of 9 nights or less. For cruises of 10 nights or more, fully immunized passengers aged 12 and over will be required to bring a negative test result for a COVID-19 test within 3 days prior to the day of embarkation.

Guests aged 12 and over who are not vaccinated have 3 days to take a test before their cruise, regardless of the length of the cruise.

All cruise lines remain subject to all covid requirements set by the countries where they dock their ships. This means that Carnival, Virgin or Royal Caribbean may have to add testing or vaccination requirements on some sailings.

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