Holland America Line becomes the first US-based cruise line to remove testing for select cruises. Unfortunately, for those traveling on the cruise from the United States, the new protocols are only in effect for certain cruises on the company’s newest ship, the Rotterdam, in Europe.
Still, the move from the Seattle-based cruise line can be called surprising. So far, the CDC has been reluctant to remove testing requirements for US cruises.
Guests booked on three cruises on July 10, July 17 and July 24 have been notified that they no longer need to meet the testing requirements. Pre-cruise testing measures have been in place since the cruise industry reopened and have been for many guests.
The development is another sign that the cruise industry is slowly working its way back to its old normal. In a letter to guests, the cruise line says the following:
“We are writing to inform you of a change to our COVID-19 testing requirement that affects your sailing. As health protocols around the world continue to evolve, we adjust our policies to align with those of the countries we visit.
“As a result, you are no longer required to undergo pre-cruise COVID-19 testing or to provide a negative test result upon boarding this cruise.”
Although Holland America Line is ending the testing requirements for these voyages, the vaccine mandate remains. All passengers over the age of 12 must be fully vaccinated.
Guests 18 years of age and older will be required to receive a booster shot if the final dose of their initial vaccination cycle is more than 270 days from the last day of the cruise.
The three cruises for which testing requirements have been removed depart from Amsterdam, Netherlands. The country removed all entry requirements related to testing a few weeks ago, and the strategy is now finding its way onto cruise ships visiting the country.
Although the new policy has only been announced for the three mentioned cruises, there is a significant chance that it will be extended further. Rotterdam will sail identical routes throughout August and even September.
Rotterdam will leave Amsterdam on July 10 and sail to the Norwegian fjords. During the seven-day cruise, the ship will visit Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger, and Flam in Norway. Guests can extend the voyage to a 14-day cruise, adding Bergen, Geiranger, Ålesund, and Eidfjord in Norway, after a stop in Amsterdam on July 17.
On July 24, Rotterdam will embark on a 14-day or 21-day cruise that will visit Norway, Great Britain, and Iceland.
Holland America Line is the second Carnival Corporation cruise line to remove testing requirements for voyages sailing in Europe and the UK. Last week, P&O Cruises announced the same, in this case for cruises on its newest cruise ship, the Iona.
The question, for now, is how the CDC will view the Holland America Line sailing without the testing requirement in Europe. The agency has been quite vocal in saying that it is reevaluating, but not considering removing the testing requirement for cruise ships departing from the United States at this time.
If nothing else, the trips will provide Carnival Corporation with enough data to potentially push for a full repeal of the U.S. testing mandate.
It would take a significant step forward in returning the cruise industry to normalcy, ensuring that guests can board a ship without worrying about where and how they need to be tested.