No industry has suffered like the cruise industry during the pandemic.
Yes, airlines, restaurants, theme parks and hotels had major hits – some even closed for a while – but none had to stop operating from March 2020 to July 2021. And normal (or at least mostly normal) has returned to every other travel industry much faster than it has to cruise lines.
In fact, no other industry requires proof of vaccination and covid testing on a large scale. Some venues or individual locations choose to have these protocols in place, but it is limited, not industry wide.
Cruise lines that depart from US ports, however, have followed every other travel company in abandoning covid protocols.
Right now, to board a Carnival Cruise Lines (CCA) – Get Carnival Corporation reportRoyal Caribbean International (RLC) – Get the Royal Caribbean group report. or Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) – Get the report from Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. ship, you must show proof of vaccination and present a negative covid test taken no later than two days before your ship sails.
The test portion adds a layer of complexity to the cruise that may have caused some people to opt for other types of vacations. Now a cruise line that sails from the US ports has decided to drop its covid testing requirement.
Viking Cruises drops Covid testing requirement
“The United States has announced that travelers entering the United States by air no longer need to undergo covid testing prior to departure. This will take effect on Sunday, June 12. Therefore, at Viking, we will now halt our onboard testing procedures,” Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen said in a Facebook post.
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Viking handled covid testing differently from Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian. It has actually set up testing labs on its ships and tested passengers on embarkation day (other cruise lines usually require you to get tested).
In March, Hagen held a press conference at which he suggested testing requirements would soon be dropped due to the impact of the covid crash.
“Our vaccine requirements for all guests and crew members remain in place and for the time being all crew members will continue to test and wear masks,” he added.
“Today, let’s celebrate the good news together,” Hagen said, noting that health protocols are still being reviewed. “Hope to see you back on board soon.”
Will Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian drop Covid testing rules?
Hagen noted that her company’s decision does not put it at odds with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current voluntary program for cruise lines. The company also released the following statement, Cruise Hive reported.
“Viking strongly recommends, but no longer requires, a pre-departure covid-19 test unless the destination requires it. Effective June 10, 2022, certain ocean voyages on the Viking Orion and expedition voyages on the Viking Octantis in the United States and Canada will continue to require a COVID-19 test prior to departure.
The move opens the door to Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian, but all three of these companies are much larger and subject to greater public (and possibly CDC) scrutiny.
But if the abandonment of pre-cruise covid testing doesn’t lead to a public relations outcry or a sharp rise in the number of people falling ill, the rest of the industry seems likely to follow.
Only two of Viking’s ships leave US ports.