Norwegian Cruise Line is scrapping its face mask requirement as well as other COVID-19 mandates for cruises departing U.S. ports, announced the company on Tuesday.
The cruise line announced it will further ease a series of COVID restrictions, including mask-wearing mandate, vaccination requirements for children, and pre-departure testing.
The move follows a significant drop in COVID-19 incidences in the United States and around the world.
“Maintaining the health and safety of our guests, crew and communities we visit continues to be our first priority, always,” the cruise line told reporters from USA Today.
“As such, given the progress in the current public health environment, we’ve updated a few of our health and safety protocols and requirements.”
Thanks to said progress, guests on cruises departing from Mar. 1 onwards will no longer be required to wear a mask onboard.
“Face masks while onboard are at guests’ discretion,” Norwegian stated.
“We recognize the added protections provided when wearing a face 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.”
Among other changes, all travelers will be required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test prior to boarding. The Company will no longer provide complimentary antigen tests at the port.
However, those unable to present a negative result at the time of boarding can opt to pay to be tested at the terminal.
Having customers tested on their own before embarking, “will allow for a more streamlined check-in process with minimal person-to-person contact and limited wait time,” said a Norwegian Cruise Line spokesperson.
Up to date, all passengers were compelled to be vaccinated in order to allow them access to the vessel. Not anymore. Unvaccinated children aged 4 or younger will be also welcomed.
All this great news, however, does not apply to all destinations. Due to local regulations, the masking mandate will remain enforced on European sailings.
This means that passengers will still need to wear masks onboard when sailing within European waters.
Also, travelers must wear masks outside when social distancing is not possible.