June 25, 2020
(Updated 5:01 p.m EDT) -- As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to progress around the world, cruise lines are rolling out detailed health and safety protocols that will allow them to safely resume service.
For experienced cruisers, these measures represent a significant departure from the way cruising has been over the past few years, with some lines electing to require masks, eliminate buffet service and self-serve table snacks, and introduce social distancing measures that will alter -- but not destroy -- many of the onboard features that passengers know and love.
Cruise Critic has compiled a list of currently available, confirmed health policies by the cruise lines listed below, although as of late May, river cruise lines have released more concrete changes. Additional cruise lines will be added as detailed health and safety measures are announced.
At a minimum, these measures all include adherence to social-distancing protocols of 6 feet (2 meters) apart from other guests; stringent disinfection procedures; and enhanced health screenings both at embarkation and onboard.
For a list of when cruise lines are expected to resume service, click here.
Ocean Cruise Lines
Bahamas Paradise: Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line will reduce capacity on its ships by 40 percent, introduce new online check-in procedures, fogging empty cabins and cleaning occupied ones regularly, washing and disinfecting linens at high temperatures, limiting capacity of shops and entertainment venues to 50 percent capacity and eliminating air recirculation onboard all vessels. Full details of all procedures can be found here: Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line Safety Measures.
CroisiEurope: Buffet service will be discontinued for lunch and dinner, replaced with two seatings featuring menu-driven options. Masks, hand sanitizer and gloves will be available upon request. Guests are encouraged to use masks on shore excursions and QuietVox wireless audio systems to facilitate social distancing while on guided tours. For more information, visit Croisi Europe Enhanced Hygeine Measures.
Genting: The popular Asia-based cruise operator was one of the first lines to publicly announce health and safety protocols back in April for its Dream Cruises and Star Cruises brands. This includes new boarding procedures, crowd-control measures, elimination of self-service buffets, and mandatory doctor's notes required for cruisers over 70 years of age.
Hurtigruten Hurtigruten has also recently introduced a number of new health and safety protocols following its June 2020 restart that are intended to curb the spread of COVID-19. These include new sanitation measures, electrostatic disenfectant, the elimination of self-serve buffet dining, and the implementation of social distancing procedures onboard. For the summer of 2020, Hurtigruten ships will be limited to 50 percent capacity, and capacity will be limited in areas like the pool and the ship's sauna and fitness center. Hurtigruten Health and Safety Onboard.
Maine Windjammer Cruises Passengers over the age of 18 traveling from out of state will be required to either arrive with a negative COVID-19 test obtained no sooner than 72 hours before arriving in Maine, or quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Maine. Enhanced sanitation protocols onboard and reduced passenger counts are among the measures being introduced for passengers this year. More information can be found here: Maine Windjammer COVID-19 Page.
Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Cruise Line revealed its new health and safety protocols on June 1. These include mandatory touchless temperature screenings at embarkation, when returning to the ship, and before entering onboard events and dining venues. Capacity across the fleet will be reduced, and capacity in public rooms and events will be limited to encourage social distancing. Norwegian says that all normal activities will be available, but that capacity may be controlled and some modifications may be necessary. Norwegian Cruise Line Health and Safety.
Princess Cruises Princess released preliminary details outlining additional sanitation protocols in terminals and onboard; free-flowing hand sanitizer throughout each vessel; daily health broadcasts; touch-free entrances and exits; and other measures. More information here: Princess Cruises Health And Safety.
Paul Gauguin Simlar to parent company Ponant (below), Paul Gauguin will require both passengers and crew to complete medical questionnaires, and will provide passengers wtih surgical and cloth masks, disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer bottless. Passengers will be required to wear masks in corridors and requested to wear them in the ship's other public areas. Public rooms will be capped at 50 percent capacity and temperature screenings and disenfecting procedures will be conducted upon reboarding the ship. More here: Paul Gauguin Health & Safety Brochure.
Ponant Ponant will introduce medical questionnaires for both passengers and crew, and will provide surgical and cloth masks, disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer bottles to passengers. Crew will be required to wear masks, while passengers will be required to wear them in corridors and requested to wear them in public spaces. Public rooms will be capped at 50 percent capacity, zodiacs will be disenfected after use, and temperature screenings and disenfecting procedures will be conducted before passengers are allowed back onboard. In addition, five cabins will be kept vacant in case passengers need to self-isolate. More here: Ponant Health & Safety Brochure.
Regent Seven Seas Regent Seven Seas will offer new health and safety protocols similar to those that Norwegian Cruise Line is rolling out (both lines are part of Norwegain Cruise Line Holdings). More information here: Regent Health And Safety.
Silversea Silversea announced that physical distancing and rigorous sanitization procedures would be a part of future voyages. Executives also stated that the company was developing a network of labs around the world, and would perform rigorous health screenings on all embarking passengers and crew. A website link for the company's health and safety procedures is not yet available.
UnCruise Adventures Masks will be required onboard when direct contact with people is planned. Enhanced sanitation protocols, daily temperature checks for passengers and crew, and the elimination of buffet and self-serve food and beverage options are just a few of the enhancements planned. More information here: UnCruise COVID-19 Travel Alerts.
Variety Cruises: The line operates "yacht cruises" on two ships which carry no more than 50 passengers in around the Greek isles and the Seychelles. As well as operating two thirds full, Variety will: take passenger temperature checks both before and during the cruise; liaise with the authorities on each island the ship calls at in case of a Covid emergency; keep cabins aside for isolation and operate all the usual onboard protocols, bar mandatory mask wearing (except for crew when they interact with passengers).
Virgin Voyages: Virgin's new "Voyage Well" program will include thermal camera technology in terminals and onboard to monitor temperatures, pre-board health checks, limited occupancy onboard, and a new air purification system that disenfects air regularly. More information here: Virgin Voyages announces Health and Wellbeing Plan.
Windstar Cruises: In addition to health and temperature screenings at embarkation and enhanced sanitization procedures, Windstar will be staggering arrivals and departures to its yachts to promote social distancing, while expanded dining times throughout venues onboard will further reduce crowding. More information here: Windstar Cruises Health And Safety.
River Cruise Lines
A-ROSA: A-ROSA will require passengers on its river cruises to wear face masks while in public areas, except when seated for meals and while outdoors. The line also mandates that passengers practice social distancing of 1.5 meters (5 feet) at all times while onboard. More information here: A-ROSA Travel Information
American Cruise Lines: The line has implemented a touchless check-in and boarding process, along with a 25 percent reduction in capacity. ACL will also allow for more time in between cruises to allow for a full sanitization of the vessel. Buffets will be eliminated, public washrooms will be closed, capacity will be reduced during mealtimes, and tables used only once per sitting. Those who have traveled internationally within 14 days of their voyages will be denied boarding. Read more here: American Cruise Line Health And Safety
American Queen Steamboat Company: American Queen Steamboat Company has partnered with Ochsner Health of Louisiana to introduce new procedures, including pre-cruise medical questionnaires and temperature checks, random screenings at the gangway, hourly sanitation of high-touch surfaces, reduction in passengers onboard buses and more. Full details can be found here: AQSC Health And Safety
Avalon Waterways: Avalon will reduce the overall capacity of each of its riverboats to encourage social distancing, introduce hourly disinfection of public areas and eliminate buffet and self-serve food options. Masks are available and passengers are encouraged to use them for safety drills and disembarking the vessel before tours. Full details can be found here: Avalon Assurance
Coral Expeditions: Seven-day pre-departure protocols including visiting your GP to fill in a health questionnaire followed by seven days of self-isolation pre-cruise. Twenty-four hours before departure the line will give you a Covid test, which if clear means you can board the next day. Onboard expect the usual protocols: Plenty of hand washing, no buffet, social distancing, plenty of deep cleaning -- but no mandatory mask wearing. Full details can be found here: Covid-19 Health Plan
CroisiEurope: Buffet service will be discontinued for lunch and dinner, replaced with two seatings featuring menu-driven options. Masks, hand sanitizer and gloves will be available upon request. Passengers are encouraged to use masks on shore excursions and QuietVox wireless audio systems to facilitate social distancing while on guided tours. The line has also partnered with Bureau Veritas, a respected classification society, to implement certified infection prevention measures across its fleet of 32 ships. For more information, visit Croisi Europe Hygeine Procedures
Scylla AG (for Tauck): Scylla is the only river cruise operator to prohibit the use of elevators onboard its riverboats; an important consideration for cruisers with mobility issues to take into account. An onboard doctor will accompany all journeys. More information can be found here (PDF): Scylla Health Protocols
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection: Uniworld has introduced set meal times, eliminated buffet service and has discontinued self-service snacks, which will now be served by crew. Masks are available on buses and in cabins for guests, payments are now contactless, and books, magazines and brochures have been removed. Full details can be found here: Uniworld Health And Safety