How Much Longer Will Cruises Require COVID-19 Vaccination Proof?

One line announced it will require proof of vaccination through December 2022

Crystal Cruises

Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises recently announced its plan to require passengers to show proof of being fully vaccinated—all the way through next year. Currently, Crystal requires that 100 percent of its crew and all guests over the age of 12 be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before stepping aboard their ships.

While Crystal Cruises is not the only cruise line to impart such a rule—Royal Caribbean, Viking, Carnival, Celebrity, and MSC are among some of the other major cruise lines with vaccine requirements—it is the first to lay down a timeline for how long it expects to require vaccine proof.

"The health and safety of our guests and crew is paramount to everything we do at Crystal River Cruises," said the line's senior vice president and managing director, Walter Littlejohn, "and as such, we will require full vaccination through 2022 so that our guests can continue to explore the world in great comfort and safety." Littlejohn went on to say that since welcoming back guests last month, Crystal has received "wonderful" feedback.

In most cases, fully-vaccinated cruisers have a lot more freedom. For example, most ships' mask requirements are laxer for fully-vaccinated passengers, who can often forgo their masks in public spaces. Unvaccinated passengers are usually required to wear their masks in any public setting, especially indoors. On some ships, they may not even have access to some mask-free regions that are reserved for fully-vaccinated guests only.

Plus, when exploring the ports, unvaccinated passengers are often required to book from a limited number of shore excursions and tours provided and approved by the cruise line. In contrast, fully vaccinated passengers have the freedom to roam on their own and book their own shore excursions.

As of yet, there's no word from any other cruise lines on how long they are planning to require proof of vaccination for passengers, though we suspect it's most likely dependent on the ebb and flow of the ever-changing CDC's cruise ship guidance recommendations.

In most cases, if unvaccinated passengers are allowed to sail, they must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding and undergo frequent testing onboard and before disembarkation and embarkation.

However, the continued spread of variants has caused some cruise lines to require pre-boarding and embarkation tests from vaccinated passengers.