- The CDC has ended its cruise ship program.
- Several cruise lines have dropped testing requirements.
- Port Canaveral celebrates its busiest week in history as thousands of travelers return to cruising.
The CDC announced the end of its voluntary cruise ship program. Following the announcement, two US-based cruise lines dropped pre-cruise testing requirements. Other cruise lines are expected to follow in the coming weeks.
There’s also news on Silverseas new 136-day world cruise, Port Canaveral’s record-breaking week, and Carnival’s construction update on Carnival Jubilee.
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CDC Ends COVID Progam for Cruise Ships
In a surprise announcement on July 18, 2022, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the end of its voluntary pre-cruise testing requirements, onboard health and safety protocols, and the color classification system for cruise ships.
The CDC stated that the changes were effective immediately, moving the cruise industry closer to normalcy.
According to the CDC’s Cruise Ship Guidance webpage, “As of July 18, 2022, CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships is no longer in effect, and this page will no longer be updated. New guidance for cruise ships to mitigate and manage COVID-19 transmission will be available in the coming days.”
The voluntary program was implemented in February 2022, after the CDC’s mandatory Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) expired.
The program provided industry guidance with plans for onboard outbreaks, arrangements at ports of call, and testing and quarantine policies.
Cruise lines could opt individual ships into the program. The CDC gave every vessel in the program a color status representing the number of covid cases onboard. Additionally, the CDC gave ships a status on how well they handled passengers’ vaccination requirements.
All major US-based cruise lines opted into the program.
The program’s end does not mean the CDC will stop offering guidance to cruise lines or travelers.
Instead, the CDC will provide recommendations and allow cruise lines to develop their protocols.
Virgin Voyages Drops Pre-Cruise Testing
In response to the news about the end of the CDC’s pre-cruise testing requirements, Virgin Voyages announced that they would be ending pre-cruise testing for passengers sailing from the US.
The change takes effect on July 27, 2022.
In a press release, the cruise line stated that it “responded immediately to the CDC’s decision to discontinue their voluntary COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships and will mirror the rest of the travel industry in removing pre-embarkation testing for sailings from July 24 on EU sailings, and from July 27 on US sailings.”
While the cruise line is dropping testing requirements, other health and safety protocols will remain on the line’s two cruise ships, Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady.
All guests must complete a pre-cruise health questionnaire and abide by all local regulations.
Other onboard health and safety measures include enhanced air purification, deep cleaning, and regular sanitization.
Virgin Voyages will allow up to 10% of passengers to be unvaccinated while 100% of the crew are vaccinated. Unvaccinated travelers can contact Virgin Voyages’ Sailor Services to book a sailing on ships under the 10% threshold.
Margaritaville at Sea Removes Pre-Cruise Testing
Passengers on Margaritaville sailings will no longer be required to present a negative test result before sailing.
On July 22, 2022, the company announced the end of its testing requirements to make cruising and embarkation quicker and easier.
The changes took effect on July 23 and only apply to vaccinated guests.
To satisfy entry requirements for the Bahamas, passengers who are not fully vaccinated must present a valid negative antigen test taken no more than one day before sailing.
Margaritaville at Sea offers popular 2- and 3-day sailings to Grand Bahama.
Carnival Jubilee Celebrates Keel Laying Milestone
Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship, Carnival Jubilee, celebrated a significant milestone with a keel laying ceremony. At the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany, executives from the cruise line and shipbuilders gathered and placed coins under a massive 375-ton steel block.
“We are pleased to take another symbolic step in the construction of Carnival Jubilee with the keel laying. The Meyer team will once again produce an advanced and innovative cruise ship that will provide a great vacation for millions of passengers,” said Meyer.
The coins will remain under the keel as a symbol of good luck before becoming permanent fixtures of the ship, residing in a special compartment near the mast.
One of the coins is an official ship coin depicting the new vessel alongside the original MS Jubilee, built in 1986.
Once completed, Jubilee will sail to Galveston, Texas, where she will offer seven-day Western Caribbean sailings with stops in Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Honduras.
Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy, who was on hand for the ceremony, stated, “Our plans for Texas are as big as the state itself, and we’re looking forward to bringing guests aboard our third Excel-class ship that will be just as magnificent as her sister ships Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration,”
“I’m ecstatic to be here for this important moment and witness construction now officially underway. Carnival Jubilee will significantly enhance our offerings from Galveston as the industry leader in the Texas cruise market and an important contributor to the Galveston tourism economy.” she continued.
Port Canaveral Celebrates a Record-Breaking Week
In another sign that the cruise industry is returning to normal, Port Canaveral celebrated a record-breaking week.
This past week, the cruise terminal welcomed the most number of passengers in a single week in its history.
The world’s second busiest cruise port announced the news in a tweet, stating, “THE MOST AMOUNT OF PASSENGERS AT PORT CANAVERAL – EVER! Port Canaveral, the world’s 2nd busiest cruise port just raised the bar with 107k passengers passing through in one week!”
The second week of July saw 107,000 guests pass through the port.
It marks the third week this year when the port surpassed 100,000 passengers. From March 11 to 17, Port Canaveral welcomed over 101,000 passengers. And during the first week of July, from July 1 to 7, the port saw over 105,000 people.
Cruise ships from Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Disney Cruise Line homeport cruise ships at the port.
This fall, Port Canaveral will welcome
NCL Cruise Ships Close Venues
Norwegian Cruise Line sent a letter to guests announcing that the Sports Complex and Spice H2O on Norwegian Epic will be closed for maintenance during the August 14 sailing.
In the letter, NCL stated, “We continuously aim to offer an enhanced experience for all our guests, and we strive to provide a world-class product consistent throughout our fleet. As part of this commitment, Norwegian Epic Sports Complex and Spice H2O are undergoing maintenance to better serve our guests, and therefore will be closed during your cruise.”
Guests aboard the 7-night Mediterranean sailing won’t have access to the two venues, which will undergo maintenance during the voyage.
Spice H20 is the ship’s adults-only beach club on Deck 15 and 16. The club includes a pool, dance floor, pool bar, grill, and a giant screen.
Silversea Cruises Announces New 136-Day World Cruise
The luxury cruise line Silversea Cruises announced details of its upcoming 2025 Controtempo World Cruise. The 136-day voyage plans to visit 59 destinations across 30 countries.
“Feeding the incredibly high demand for extended voyages, our destination experts have designed our new Controtempo World Cruise 2025 to sail offbeat, enabling the world’s most experienced travelers to rediscover the world in a whole new light,” says Roberto Martinoli, President and CEO, Silversea Cruises.
“Controtempo, a musical term that means ‘off-tempo’, will take guests closer to the authentic heartbeat of iconic and off-the-beaten-path destinations. We will be travelling to an unusual rhythm, from East to West, with more time ashore in unconventional seasons. For the first time, we will host our World Cruise aboard our beautiful Silver Dawn—a slightly larger ship with a capacity of 596—which pays testament to the high demand we are seeing for extended voyages.”
The world cruise will take place aboard Silver Dawn and commence on January 13, 2025, from Tokyo.