Skip to main content

Live Outside the USA? Click here for other international cruise insurance options.

With travel beginning to resemble the old normal and video of cruise ships returning to action making the evening news, there are a couple of questions that potential cruisers are asking.

Who can go on a cruise? And what are the cruise requirements for these travelers?

The answers are… complicated. They vary by cruise line, port, and time of departure. And they involve local laws, vaccination status, and traveler age.

We have taken the time to review cruise requirements and decomplicate things a bit for you. That said, we encourage you to use this article only as a starting point. Protocols, policies, guidelines, and laws are evolving almost daily.

As you narrow in on your voyage and vessel of choice, read all the fine print provided by your cruise line to ensure you know exactly what you’re signing up for.

Requirements for Unvaccinated Travelers

Many of the cruise lines powering back up after the pause are only opening their voyages to vaccinated travelers — with exceptions including children younger than a specified age.

There are a number of reasons this trend has emerged, from prevailing laws of the home port to CDC guidelines stating that operators of ships sailing with at least 95% of guests fully vaccinated may lift mask and social distancing guidelines at their discretion.1

But there are opportunities for nonvaccinated travelers to cruise, too. For example, for Florida-based ships, nonvaccinated travelers may opt to satisfy a range of cruise requirements including regular COVID-19 testing and producing proof of travel insurance.

Here’s an example of how Royal Caribbean is testing nonvaccinated passengers:

  • Who: Guests 2 and older
  • Frequency: Pre-cruise (travelers 12 and older); at the terminal (2 and older); mid-cruise (2 and older on cruises of 6 or more nights); and before disembarking (2 and older).
  • Cost: Free for travelers 2 to 12. For travelers older than 12, $136 for cruises 5 nights or fewer; $178 for cruises 6 nights or more.2

The protocols are similar for Carnival and Celebrity, which are charging $150 and $178 flat fees, respectively.3

Other protocols unvaccinated travelers can expect include mask wearing and social distancing. On Celebrity vessels, unvaccinated passengers are prohibited from using the gym or spa, and must stick to designated sections in crowded areas such as dining rooms and theaters.4

The list of requirements for unvaccinated passengers doesn’t end there. Cruise lines including Royal Caribbean and Carnival are also mandating that these travelers purchase travel insurance from a provider of their choice.

Here’s a snapshot of the plan requirements:

  • Royal Caribbean
    • Who: Travelers 12 and older
    • Coverage:
      • Medical: $25,000 or more
      • Emergency Medical Evacuation: $50,000 or more
      • No COVID-19 exceptions2
  •  Carnival
    • Who: Travelers 12 and older
    • Coverage
      • Medical: $10,000 or more
      • Emergency Medical Evacuation: $30,000 or more
      • No COVID-19 exceptions5

The medical benefit is fairly intuitive. Odds are your health insurance doesn’t work abroad — and things can get costly quickly when paying out of pocket. Flying someone from ship to port can be even costlier, hence the higher evacuation minimum coverage levels.

Cruiselines, of course, recommend that travelers are fully vaccinated before departing for cruises. But they haven’t shut the door completely on the possibility of cruising without first being vaccinated.4

About that Travel Insurance…

Given the travel insurance requirement we just described, some of you may now be looking up the rates for travel insurance plans.

We’ll make it easy: you can find a Allianz Global Assistance Plan that fits your trip, budget, and satisfies cruise requirements right here.

Regardless of vaccination status, travel insurance does so much more than simply punch your ticket to that Caribbean cruise. Plans can reimburse you for nonrefundable, covered expenses in the event that you need to cancel your trip, as well as compensate for lost bags and late planes. And don’t forget the invaluable 24-Hr. Hotline Assistance, which you can dial up to locate a spot in a tiny port town that can accommodate a gluten allergy.

The Vaccinated Traveler Experience

When compared to the hoops and hurdles unvaccinated cruisers need to navigate, vaccinated travelers have a veritable walk down easy street.

For example, on Carnival, those who have received their final vaccine dose at least 14 days before setting sail simply need to furnish proof of the vaccination (along with all the usual travel documents, of course). This includes showing one’s vaccination card and uploading it to a site upon check-in.5

Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity have all lifted mask-wearing and social distancing for vaccinated cruises and passengers, with exceptions including embarkation, debarkation, and when visiting onboard medical facilities.

Otherwise, on ships with 95% vaccination rates, the only likely scenarios to have on your radar include observing local laws when going ashore and the potential of precautionary COVID-19 testing based on embarkation medical screenings.6

(Note that even on ships that don’t meet the 95% mark, there may be designated areas for vaccinated travelers only. On Royal Caribbean ships, this includes bars, lounges, and restaurants.)

Vaccinated or not, while today’s cruises look a bit different than the experiences at sea you’re accustomed to, there is one more consideration for booking today vs. further down the line: crowds. Right now, ships are less crowded and so are ports. And you know what that means — big deals for those who shove off sooner than later. Carnival, for example, is discounting trips by 40%, while Royal Caribbean is taking 60% off the second passenger’s ticket price.6

But similar to the new cruise guidelines and protocols, you’re going to need to keep your eyes open to avoid missing out.

Leave a Reply