The major cruise lines take a refined route.
Cruise lines need to take the practical steps necessary to keep their passengers safe, and they also need to know what the outside public thinks about things. It’s a balanced mix of practical covid policy and covid theatre.
You have to do the right thing – Royal Caribbean International (RCL) – Get the Royal Caribbean Group reportCarnival Cruise Line (CCL) – Get Carnival Corporation Reportand Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) – Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd report It’s been done with very meticulous protocols — but you also have to show the public that you’re taking this pandemic seriously. Since covid first emerged, the cruise industry has been under the microscope of public perception and the Centers for Disease Control.
It’s not because you’re more susceptible to infection on a cruise ship than at concerts, sporting events, theme parks, restaurants, or any other crowded venue. This is because when you get sick in one of these places, no one can pinpoint the source of your infection.
Cruises lasting between three and seven days or more means some people will catch the coronavirus on board, and the cruise industry will be to blame. To mitigate the impact of Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian have established strict protocols that require passengers aged 12 and older to be vaccinated and take a pre-cruise COVID-19 test no more than two days before your cruise departs.
Once cruise lines drop the testing requirement (at least on a few sailings), it could lead Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian to follow suit.
Netherlands, U.S. drop some coronavirus tests
As the largest cruise lines departing from the United States, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian did not want to be the first to make major Covid-19 policy changes. They acted more or less in unison when it came to relaxing the mask rules, then dropped the mask rules, and generally followed the CDC’s lead, even as the agency’s rules became optional.
Now, Holland America has waived pre-cruise Covid testing on a handful of cruise ships. It’s a small move, but it does provide cover and precedent for Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian to eventually do the same.
“Holland America Line has become the first US cruise line to cancel testing on select cruise ships. Unfortunately for those on cruises from the United States, the new agreement only applies to certain cruise ships aboard the company’s newest ship, the Rotterdam. Europe,” Cruisehive reported.
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Current CDC guidelines do recommend pre-cruise testing, but cruise lines choose to abide by those rules. By opting for cruises departing from Europe, Holland America is temporarily avoiding a fight with federal agencies, but it will be able to gather data on whether pre-cruise testing is actually helpful.
KLM has not changed its vaccination requirements for cruise ships that reflect the 12-and-over rule used by Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian.
Some guests have called for an end to the testing requirement, which they believe is more important than precautions, as people can be tested while traveling on cruise ships and then contract the virus.
Current cruise protocol work
Royal Caribbean president Michael Bailey does anticipate changes to his cruise line’s covid protocols, which he spoke about on Royal Caribbean’s recent presidential cruise, according to the Royal Caribbean Blog.
“I think the pre-cruise testing will be going on for a few months,” Bailey told passengers during a question-and-answer session. “We obviously want it to go back to normal, but we are very aware that we have a responsibility to keep our crew, our community and our guests safe.”
Even though crew members are 100% vaccinated and all passengers aged 12 and older are vaccinated, people can still get Covid-19 on board, but the protocols are working well for preventing serious illness.
Bailey said the CDC shared some information with him on the phone.
“How many people have been hospitalized with Covid-19, how many people have died from Covid-19 in the last 12 months, the cruise ship industry has sailed out of U.S. ports, and these people have died on the industry’s ships, in the millions,” he said. Say: “The number of people who have died from COVID sailing on ships in the past year is two.”
This success may be why major cruise lines are reluctant to make changes. The current rules, even though they are partly for show, are very effective.
“Two is scary. But, but in the context of everything we’ve seen, it’s really been a terrific success,” he added.