Carnival Cruises drops exemption request for unvaccinated guests, eases testing requirements

Carnival Cruise Line is relaxing its testing requirements for vaccinated passengers and allowing unvaccinated passengers to travel without exemption.

The cruise line will no longer require tests for vaccinated passengers staying on board for less than 16 nights. Additionally, unvaccinated guests will no longer be required to file exemption requests.

The Carnival Freedom, shown here in Italy in 2007. (Victor Sokolowicz/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Getty Images)

“Carnival is pleased to announce new guidelines effective for cruises departing September 6, 2022 or later, which will make it easier for more guests to sail with simplified vaccination and testing guidelines, including no testing for vaccinated passengers on cruises under 16 nights and eliminating the waiver process for unvaccinated passengers, who will only need to show a negative test result upon boarding,” the company announced on Saturday.

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Vaccinated guests “must continue to provide proof of their vaccination status before boarding,” according to the new guidelines.

Freedom Carnival Key West Florida

Passengers board the Carnival Freedom in February 2013 in Key West, Florida. (Karen Bleier/AFP via Getty Images/Reuters)

But unvaccinated passengers “are welcome to sail and are no longer required to apply for a vaccine exemption, except for Australia cruises or voyages of 16 nights and longer”.

Unvaccinated passengers will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test within three days of departure.

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Sailings longer than 16 nights will continue to have their own restrictions.

The cruise industry is once again navigating choppy waters as it faces a storm of labor issues, searing inflation and the threat of recession after barely stabilizing after the blows an 18-month shutdown due to the pandemic.

Queen Mary Carnival

Carnival Corp. Queen Mary 2 cruise ship (iStock/iStock)

The industry employs around 250,000 workers from more than 100 countries, and their jobs range from ship captain to cocktail mixer, according to the Cruise Lines International Association.

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Cruise operators, however, are still confident about the longer-term recovery of the industry, although the strength of the summer sailing season, which usually accounts for a large part of operating profit, is still under a cloud.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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