On July 6, 2022, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced that effective August 1, 2022; it will waive pre-cruise COVID-19 testing requirements for all of its brands. The corporation oversees Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
The announcement, however, does not affect all sailings. Cruise departures from all homeports in the United States, Canada, Greece, and Bermuda must still follow pre-cruise testing protocols. However, this is a huge step in returning cruises to pre-pandemic conditions and easing travel restrictions, and will certainly be welcomed by cruise passengers.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings stated that it “will no longer require guests to complete pre-cruise COVID-19 testing unless required by local regulations.”
The policy does not take effect immediately but begins on August 1, 2022. Moreover, the announcement does not affect all sailings.
“The pre-boarding testing requirement will remain in effect for guests currently traveling on voyages departing from destinations with local testing regulations, including but not limited to the US, Canada, Greece, and Bermuda,” the statement said.
It does mean, however, that Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises calling at many European home ports will no longer require pre-cruise tests.
Oceania Cruises has August departures from Reykjavik, Malta, Lisbon, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Stockholm, Paris, Rome and Oslo, while Regent Seven Seas Cruises has August departures from Rome, Southampton, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Istanbul.
This huge step will ease restrictions for travelers as it can be more difficult to find testing centers in the limited time frames just before a cruise and home tests are not always an option.
“The relaxation of the testing policy is consistent with the rest of the travel, leisure and hospitality industry around the world as society continues to adapt and return to a state of normalcy,” the press release said.
However, this does not mean that other health and safety protocols are relaxed.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings “continues to strongly recommend that all guests stay current on vaccination protocols and test at their convenience prior to travel,” the statement said.
The company also clarified that its SailSAFE health and safety program will continue and be adjusted as necessary, and each cruise brand will continue to comply with all local restrictions and guidelines at ports of call.
Cruise passengers should note that these policies are always flexible and can change at short notice if conditions require more stringent protocols. Passengers booked on upcoming voyages should stay in close contact with their cruise line for updates and changes as their sailing date approaches.