Cruise lines are introducing new safety protocols amid delta variant surge

Posted at 4:27 PM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-12 19:19:48-04

Cruise lines are having to change course as the highly transmissible delta variant sends coronavirus cases soaring again in Florida.

"What I recommend you do before you board. First thing you need to do is before you get on any cruise you need to be vaccinated and you must have your vaccination card. Number two, I recommend taking your test 72 hours before your cruise," said Gus Machado with Brickell Travel.

And many cruise lines are starting to require passengers to be vaccinated. Machado said in recent days cruise lines have said that even passengers who are vaccinated will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding.

Some operators, including Carnival Cruise Lines, are also adding mask requirements.

In a press release posted by Carnival last week it said in part: “Carnival Cruise Line is adapting to the evolving public health situation".

The company requires most passengers to be fully vaccinated, with some exemptions available for children too young or adults who cannot get the shot.

"When you look at a cruise line like Carnival, right now they’re sailing at 70% capacity and they’re only running vaccinated voyages through October," said travel expert Jeanenne Tornatore.

On Sunday, a federal judge sided with Norwegian Cruise Line to temporarily halt enforcement of a Florida law that prohibits businesses from requiring customers to show proof of vaccination. U.S. district judge Kathleen Williams granted the preliminary injunction. It allows Norwegian to require vaccine documentation from customers while the case heads to trial. The Norwegian Gem is scheduled to depart Port Miami this Sunday.

Last week, Royal Caribbean International announced its own tweak, mandating that all passengers be tested before taking a cruise in the U.S., whether they are vaccinated or not.

On a CDC table that was last updated Tuesday, ships can be designated as green, orange, yellow, or red on the site.

"Green means there was no cases at all. Orange means that there was a few cases but below the threshold of what they’re looking for. Yellow means there are some cases and the CDC is investigating. Red means that they’re over the threshold," said Machado.

Machado said every cruise line has different safety protocols in place and recommends to check their website for more information. He also said if you don’t feel comfortable with the new safety protocols, cruise lines will give you a refund.