Carnival, Royal Caribbean cruises ease covid testing rules

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The world’s largest cruise lines announced this week 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s covid-19 cruise program earlier this month.

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Starting Thursday, Carnival Cruise Line announced, fully vaccinated passengers will not need to take a test before boarding if the trip is five nights or fewer. For trips six nights or longer, travelers 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.

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The line’s announcement Friday followed a similar one from Royal Caribbean Group on Thursday.

As of Aug. 8, testing for vaccinated passengers will only be required on trips of six nights or longer; 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; under the CDC program that just ended, 90 percent of passengers were supposed to be vaccinated to meet that designation. Crew members will be fully vaccinated and boosted when they are eligible.

“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.”

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