As cruisers look to book vacations for 2022, a big question looms: Will passengers still be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19?
The question has implications not only for those unvaccinated, but for vaccinated travelers who prefer to travel and be on ships with other people who are primarily vaccinated. Cruise Critic surveys have repeatedly found that the vast majority of cruisers have embraced vaccine mandates.
Most mainstream cruise lines and ocean ships have not yet indicated vaccine plans even for later this year, though in not saying anything, such requirements may be implied. Previously, only Cunard had announced guest vaccines would be required through 2021, for those age 18 and up. That has since been extended into early 2022.
Looking at 2022, it's likely that cruise lines will continue to require crew to be vaccinated. Here is an overview of lines that have announced policies running into 2022:
Avalon parent company Globus announced in August that its river cruise brand Avalon Waterways -- along with sister tour brands Globus, Cosmos and Monograms -- would require all travelers to be fully vaccinated through the end of 2022.
"We remain committed to ensuring our travelers -- and the destinations we visit -- a safe, sustainable and responsible return to travel," said Scott Nisbet, CEO of the Globus family of brands.
Crystal said in September it was extending its vaccination requirements for all of its catalog of cruises through 2022, for both guests and crew. Everyone onboard will be required to be fully inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to their embarkation date, and must provide proof of vaccination before boarding the ship.
"The health and safety of our guests and crew is paramount to everything we do at Crystal River Cruises, and as such, we will require full vaccination through 2022 so that our guests can continue to explore the world in great comfort and safety," said Walter Littlejohn, Crystal River Cruises’ senior vice president and managing director.
"Extending the vaccination requirement provides our guests with the health and safety information and assurances they need to plan future travels."
In an email to booked passengers, Cunard Line announced in late September that proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 would continue to be required up to and including April 17, 2022 for Queen Mary 2, and up-to and including May 17 for Queen Elizabeth. The final ship in the fleet, Queen Victoria), which will not enter service until April 22, 2022, is unaffected at this time.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings
To date, the biggest group to confirm it will likely extend its 100 percent vaccination policy into 2022 is Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which operates Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
In an interview in the Wall Street Journal, Norwegian CEO & President Harry Sommer said the line will likely extend its 100 percent vaccination policy for passengers and crew past the end of the year if the COVID-19 situation doesn't improve in the next month. Currently, the 100 percent vaccination policy runs until December 31.
Regarding the other two NCLH brands, Frank Del Rio told Cruise Week: "Oceania and Regent have never established an end date -- it’s indefinite."
For passengers, hints of what 2022 may look like are coming from one river cruise line, Avalon Waterways along with Crystal, who is the first ocean line to require vaccines into 2022 for all of their ships -- river, ocean and expedition.