In another – welcome – tweak to its guidance for cruising to resume in U.S. waters under its Conditional Sail Order, the CDC has advised that fully vaccinated passengers will not need to be tested for COVID-19.
The new guidance applies throughout the cruise journey, so fully vaccinated guests will not have to undergo testing on embarkation, during sailing, or on disembarkation, which previous guidance required.
An exception to this blanket exemption from testing would be if a guest is showing symptoms or has been exposed to COVID-19 within two weeks prior to sailing.
Testing at multiple points throughout a cruise journey remains required of any unvaccinated guests.
The CDC has indicated it prefers PCR testing, but cruise lines may also use approved antigen tests. Cruise lines are also given discretion to make certain decisions, for example about boarding guests who may have been exposed to the virus, but are asymptomatic.
Revisions to testing requirements are just the latest in CDC updates to the Conditional Sail Order. As Open Jaw reported last week, cruise lines may skip onerous test cruises if they sail with vaccinated passengers, who in turn have more relaxed mask wearing rules to follow, and may go ashore independently at ports of call, rather than be forced to take a cruise line shore excursion.
USAToday reports Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley posting on social media that the latest updates, “All reflect the significant progress made with the vaccines. Reading the updates last night and this morning gives me increased optimism.”