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Mask Mandates Lifted: Which Cruise Lines Have Begun Relaxing Masking Policies
Woman wearing a face mask (Photo: narongpon chaibot/Shutterstock.com)

Mask Mandates Lifted: Which Cruise Lines Have Begun Relaxing Masking Policies

Mask Mandates Lifted: Which Cruise Lines Have Begun Relaxing Masking Policies
Woman wearing a face mask (Photo: narongpon chaibot/Shutterstock.com)
Aaron Saunders
News and Features Editor
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After being a staple of cruises since the industry restarted sailings in mid-2021, several cruise lines have begun lifting their mask mandates.

Originally set out by the CDC's Conditional Sail Order, or CSO, and the cruise line's own advisory boards (like Royal Caribbean's Healthy Sail Panel), mask mandates have been one of the more contentious issues onboard cruises. Now that mask mandates have begun to be lifted, cruisers can once again enjoy mask-free cruises.

There are a few catches, though. No two cruise lines have the exact same mask mandate, even sometimes among related brands. And masks can still be required on shore, on tours, and in other parts of your journey, such as airports, cruise terminals, hotels, or in other places of business as designated by local health officials.

However, following the the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) voluntary program for cruise ships operating in US waters, all the major lines are set to relax their mask wearing requirements.

Which cruise lines have had mask mandates lifted?

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line will make masks optional for fully vaccinated passengers from March 1. The move comes following Carnival's decision to opt the CDC's new program.

Carnival Cruise Line said it will continue to meet the standard of vaccinated cruises, but children under five years old will not be included in any vaccinated guest calculation and will not be required to receive an exemption to sail.

Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said: "The public health situation has continued to improve, providing confidence about these changes. Our protocols will evolve as we continue to remain dedicated to protecting the public health of our guests, crew and the communities we visit."

Disney Cruise Line

Starting March 11, masks will be optional for fully vaccinated passengers in most indoor areas of the ships, with the exception of the Walt Disney Theatre. Guests under 5 who are ineligible to vaccinated will be required to wear a mask in youth activity spaces, as well as the Bibbidi Bobbiti Boutique. While not required, it is recommended that these unvaccinated kids wear a mask at other times as well.

No masks are required in outdoor areas.

Holland America Line

HAL will make masks optional for fully vaccinated passengers from March 1. The move comes following the line's decision to opt the CDC's new program.

Princess will continue to operate vaccinated cruises but with two key changes: for cruises departing from March 1, masks on board will be recommended but not required. There may, however, be certain venues and events where masks will be required.

Norwegian Cruise Line

On February 8, 2022, Norwegian Cruise Line became the first to announce it would do away with its mask mandate, which had been in place since the start of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in late 2021.

Starting for voyages embarking on or after March 1, 2022, NCL will no longer require passengers to be masked for all voyages departing from U.S. homeports.

Keep in mind, however, masks could still be required by local destinations and in federal facilities like cruise terminals and airports, so definitely still bring an approved face covering with you on your journey.

Face masks will continue to be required for all sailings departing up to and including February 28, 2022, and the line still recommends masks be worn, but leaves the choice to do so or not up to each individual passenger.

"We recognize the added protections provided when wearing a mask covering and recommend that all guests do so onboard when indoors, except when actively eating or drinking, or seated at a table in a dining setting, or when in their stateroom," states the line's website.

"The decision to wear a mask covering when onboard is at the discretion of each guest."

Oceania Cruises

Oceania, part of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, announced it would lift mask mandates for fully vaccinated passengers, starting on March 1.

In addition, Oceania passengers will no longer have to take a pierside COVID-19 test before boarding, but must show proof of a negative test verified by a third party taken within 48 hours of boarding at a port in the United States or within three days of boarding at a non-U.S. port.

"Protocols for non-U.S. embarkations may vary as some destinations will require pier-side testing, and if that is the case, we will continue to provide it,"a spokeperson confirmed.

For guests unable to arrange a test within 48 or 72 hours of arriving to the terminal, Oceania will have on-site testing available at the pier for a fee. Guests not in possession of a negative, third-party Covid-19 test result will not be allowed to embark.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises will make masks optional for fully vaccinated passengers from March 1. The move comes following the line's decision to opt the CDC's new program.

Princess will continue to operate vaccinated cruises but with two key changes: for cruises departing from March 1, masks on board will be recommended but not required. There may, however, be certain venues and events where masks will be required.

Regent Seven Seas

Regent, also part of NCLH, announced it would lift mask mandates for fully vaccinated passengers, starting on March 1. In addition, Regent passengers will no longer have to take a pierside COVID-19 test before boarding, but must show proof of a negative test verified by a third party taken within 48 hours of boarding at a port in the United States or within three days of boarding at a non-U.S. port.

For guests unable to arrange a test within 48 or 72 hours of arriving to the terminal, Regent will have on-site testing available at the pier for a fee. Guests not in possession of a negative, third-party Covid-19 test result will not be allowed to embark.

Royal Caribbean Cruises

Face masks will be optional for fully vaccinated passengers sailing from the U.S. and Puerto Rico from February 25.

The line's decision to opt into the CDC's new voluntary program for cruise ships prompted the change.

Unvaccinated children (over 2s) however, will be required to wear masks indoors and in crowded settings. Masks are required for all children while at the Adventure Ocean youth program.

Seabourn

Seabourn will make masks optional for fully vaccinated passengers from March 1. The move comes following the line's decision to opt the CDC's new program.

Princess will continue to operate vaccinated cruises but with two key changes: for cruises departing from March 1, masks on board will be recommended but not required. There may, however, be certain venues and events where masks will be required.

Viking

Viking will relax mask rules on all of its ships on April 1.

The line, which has its own COVID-19 testing labs on its ocean ships, will still require testing. It will not be as frequent as the daily tests that were required previously, however.

Updated March 16, 2022

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