Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise lines relax coronavirus testing rules

'We're transitioning to the point where everyone will be able to vacation with us,' Royal Caribbean says

Royal Caribbean's 'Wonder of the Seas' will launch on March 4, 2022, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, before sailing to the Mediterranean in May. Photo: Sigrun Sauerzapfe aka SIGGI.

Hannah Sampson © Washington Post

The world's largest cruise lines have announced that they are easing coronavirus testing requirements on some trips that last less than a week.

Both Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Group, which includes Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea, said they made the changes in response to the end of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Covid-19 cruise program earlier this month.

Fully vaccinated passengers will not need to take a test before boarding if the trip is five nights or fewer, Carnival Cruise Line announced.

For trips six nights or longer, travellers still need to test, but those tests can be done three days before the cruise departs.

Unvaccinated guests still must present proof of a negative test, either administered by a lab or supervised as a self-test within three days of boarding, the cruise line said.

Testing on the day of departure in port terminals will not be required.

"More changes will be announced shortly and all changes are subject to any requirements of destinations on the itinerary," Carnival said.

The line's announcement last week followed a similar one from Royal Caribbean Group.

As of August 8, testing for vaccinated passengers will only be required on trips of six nights or longer, it said, while unvaccinated guests will need to test before all sailings.

The company said it would keep a "high percentage" of fully vaccinated guests on all trips - without saying what that means.

Last month, the CDC stopped reporting coronavirus levels for cruise ships in US waters, ending a pandemic-era program that allowed the public to monitor the spread of the virus at sea.

"We will continue to work closely with our partners around the world to develop updated protocols that provide for the continued safety of our guests and the communities we visit, better align with the travel and hospitality sector, and meet destination regulations," Royal Caribbean said in a statement.

"This means we're transitioning to the point where everyone will be able to vacation with us."