As time goes on, it seems that cruises are likely here to stay once again. However, many things have changed since the beginning of the pandemic. The most controversial change is, of course, the requirement of most cruise lines for guests to be vaccinated. This has been a deal-breaker for many travelers. Will the industry require vaccinations indefinitely? Are there any cruise lines that don’t require vaccines? Let’s take a look.
The current state of vaccine requirements
Almost every major cruise line based out of the United States currently requires most (if not all) guests to be vaccinated. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Celebrity, Saga… the list goes on. This is because this is the simplest way for cruise lines to comply with CDC requirements. Based on their rules, cruise lines must either require vaccinations for guests or must go through a lengthy trial cruise process. For most companies, simply requiring vaccines was a much simpler way to get back into business. These vaccine requirements also cut down on the possibility of outbreaks on ships, something that damaged the public perception of the cruise industry back when COVID-19 was first starting to spread.
How long will this go on?
We can only speculate how long vaccine requirements will be in place. We do know that some cruise lines are already planning on keeping them until at least next year. Crystal River Cruises, for instance, recently announced that they will require guests to be vaccinated against COVID-19 through December 2022. Most larger lines have yet to make any decisions of this nature, but we could certainly see something like that happening. Additionally, certain cruise lines that were not initially requiring vaccines – like Bahamas Paradise – are now doing so. That indicates that the trend is towards more vaccine requirements rather than less.
Cruise lines without requirements
You will be hard pressed to find a cruise line in America right now that doesn’t want you to be vaccinated. The CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order is still active, and that means that all cruise lines must either perform trial cruises or require vaccines. However, there is a caveat: the CDC considers a cruise ship to be a vessel with a capacity of 250 people. That means that cruise lines operating incredibly small ships can get around the Conditional Sailing Order. Of course, these options are few and far between. Still, if there is a demand for non-vaccinated cruises, we may see river cruises become more and more popular in the future.
Vaccines are, at least for now, the reality of the cruise industry. We’ll keep you updated if this happens to change.