By Ceylan Yeginsu
Cruise lines are imposing more stringent coronavirus measures as a precaution against the highly contagious Delta variant, which now accounts for more than 93 percent of cases in the United States.
Royal Caribbean announced last week that all guests aged 2 and older will be required to present a negative virus test before embarkation, after six guests tested positive on board its Adventure of the Seas cruise ship.
Four vaccinated adults and two unvaccinated minors tested positive during a routine end-of-trip screening last Thursday. No additional cases have been identified, the company said.
Most cruise lines are operating ships with at least 95 percent of passengers and crew vaccinated, but some cruises sailing out of Florida are accepting unvaccinated passengers after a recently enacted state law banned businesses from requiring proof of immunization from people seeking to use their services. Fully vaccinated people are protected against the worst outcomes of Covid-19, including those caused by the Delta variant.
The new guidance will apply to all passengers sailing on cruises for five nights or longer, regardless of their vaccination status. Unvaccinated guests will be required to take further tests at the terminal and onboard the ship, at their own expense.
Carnival Cruise Lines went a step further on Tuesday, requiring guests to wear masks in certain indoor areas of its ships as well as requiring pre-cruise testing. Norwegian Cruise Line also has a testing requirement for all passengers boarding its ships.
The new rules come after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged fully vaccinated Americans to wear masks indoors in places with high coronavirus transmission.
While most cruise lines have reduced the capacity of sailings, some areas such as elevators, casinos and entertainment spaces can get crowded, which led to Carnival’s mask mandate.
“These new requirements are being implemented to protect our guests and crew while on board and to continue to provide confidence to our homeports and destinations that we are doing our part to support their efforts to protect public health and safety,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.
“We expect these requirements will be temporary and appreciate the cooperation of our guests,” she added.
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