People looking for a summer getaway after two years of lockdown and other coronavirus restrictions on our daily activities may be considering hitting the high seas for a cruise holiday. The sight of luxury liners is making a welcome return to UK ports as the industry recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Vaccination rates in the UK are fairly high, with almost 50 million Brits having had two jabs, and almost 40 million all three jabs, including a booster, according to government figures. As international travel continues to open up once again, anyone hoping to go on a cruise might wonder if they need to be fully vaccinated.
Whilst Covid restrictions have been lifted in the UK and are easing in many other countries, many cruise lines still have measures in place to ensure the health and safety of passengers and crew. Many require voyagers to have at least two jabs to classify as being fully vaccinated, together with proof of vaccination. But rules differ from company to company, and from country to country en route.
Most firms are asking for all guests aged 18 and over to be be vaccinated before they board a ship. Many also require pasengers to have received a booster jab. Below is a break down of vaccination requirements for some of the most popular cruise lines visiting UK shores.
Royal Caribbean International
All passengers aged 12 and older need to show proof of vaccination prior to sailing on Royal Caribbean International vessels. The cruise line's website says: "All Royal Caribbean guests age 12 and older must present proof of full Covid-19 vaccination with the final dose administered at least 14 days before sailing.
"Each guest's regimen must include at least two doses of vaccine unless the guest received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. No exceptions will be made."
Travellers will need to provide official proof such as an NHS Covid-19 pass to show they have been jabbed. All vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) are accepted.
Your final dose in a two-dose vaccination series (single dose for Johnson & Johnson) has to be no more than nine months before time of travel. This does not apply, however, to anyone who has received a booster jab. Some passengers will be required to take a Covid test before visiting some ports.
Royal Caribbean will not accept a Certificate of Recovery in lieu of vaccination for guests of vaccine eligible age. All crew members are fully vaccinated, including their booster jabs.
Passengers over 18 on Virgin Voyages cruise liners must be vaccinated. Advice on the firm's website states: "All of our sailors should be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. While we do not require the booster dose for our voyages at this time, please note that some ports we sail from may require sailors to be boosted."
Its website states: "All guests aged 12 years and older are required to be fully vaccinated from Covid-19 and all guests aged 2 and older are required to submit a negative test prior to boarding." Passengers are also required to bring proof of a negative Covid test to the cruise terminal on the day of embarkation.
Travellers who show signs of Covid symptoms won't be allowed to board. They will also need to provide proof of a Covid-19 insurance policy prior to sailing. Passengers are also advised to check travel requirements details for each destination.
Viking cruises require all passengers to be fully vaccinated. The firm's website states: "Viking requires that all guests be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 at least 14 days prior to travel.
"For added protection, we strongly recommend that guests who are eligible for a booster receive one before departing." It adds: "All crew are required to be up-to-date with their immunization.
"This policy is aligned with current NHS guidelines and guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)." Viking also requires all guests to take a pre-departure Covid test.
Celebrity Cruises requires all passengers who are eligible for vaccination to be fully vaccinated (two jabs), with all doses administered at least 14 days prior to sailing. Because the UK eligibility age for a jab is 12, all Brits 12 and over will need to be vaccinated.
The line's website states: "To comply with this requirement, documentation of full vaccination must be provided at the terminal as a condition for boarding. Covid-19 booster vaccine shots are not currently required to sail on Celebrity Cruises but are highly recommended to ensure a smoother vacation experience and to avoid additional onboard testing and costs at your own expense throughout the sailing."
Everyone aged 12 and over must be fully vaccinated to travel on an international cruise. All doses must be received at least 14 days before departure. If 270 days have passed since your second jab, then a booster vaccination is required. Official proof of your vaccination status will have to be provided.
As an added measure, all customers over the age of 2 must take a rapid flow test the day before they are due to travel. It must be taken prior to checking in at a UK airport if flying out to join a cruise ship in Europe.
Its website states: "You must prove your vaccine status by using the NHS App or by calling 119 for a paper copy. If you are from Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland you should check how to prove your vaccine status. We'll also accept the official vaccination status letter from the health provider that administered your vaccination."
The cruise line's website states: "All guests aged 16 years and over need to be fully vaccinated with an approved Covid-19 vaccine a minimum of 14 days prior to travel. If more than 270 days (calculated from the last day of the cruise) have passed since the full completion of a vaccination course, a booster vaccine will also be needed and must be administered a minimum of seven days prior to travel."
Passengers aged between 12 and 15 need to have had at least two jabs at least 14 days prior to travel. A booster vaccine is not required. Those aged five to 11 either have to be fully vaccinated (two jabs) at least 14 days prior to travel (a booster jab is not necessary) or must provide two negative Covid‑19 test results prior to sailing. Guests under five are exempt from pre-travel vaccination and testing.
All travellers must be fully vaccinated, including a booster jab, to join Saga cruise ships. The cruise line's vaccination policy is outlined on its website.
It states that it is a "mandatory requirement for all guests travelling on a Saga cruise to have been fully vaccinated using a Covid-19 vaccine approved by the UK’s Medical and Healthcare Regulatory Authority". That includes a booster dose at least 14 days before your departure date.
Passengers will need to present an NHS Covid Pass at check-in as proof of vaccination status. Saga adds that guests will be unable to board a ship without this proof. The firm will not accept travellers who are exempt from receiving a vaccine.
It said: "We have made the decision not to allow a guest to travel with us if, for any reason, they have not received the vaccine and a booster dose. The majority of our guests fall into the at-risk age bracket and our priority is their safety and wellbeing. Therefore, to protect all of our guests, sadly we would not be able to allow you to cruise."
With Cunard's Queen Victoria cruise liner due to visit Liverpool on June 2, the company has recently updated its Covid-19 policy. It asks guests aged 16 and over to be 'fully vaccinated' with two jabs a minimum of 14 days prior to travel. If more than 270 days have passed (calculated from the last day of the cruise) since completing a vaccination course then a booster vaccine will also be required.
This will need to be given a minimum of seven days prior to embarkation. Guests aged 12 to 15 also need to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to their journey, but a booster jab is not necessary. The same applies to children from five to 11 years of age, except if they can provide two negative Covid tests if they are not fully vaccinated.
Toddlers aged four and younger are exempt from pretravel vaccination and testing. Passengers will need to show valid proof of vaccination when they arrive at the cruise line terminal. For more details, visit the website by clicking here.
Fred Olsen Cruises
The line's pre-cruise Covid protocols are outlined on the Fred Olsen Cruises website. All passengers aged 12 and over "must be vaccinated to join us on board" it states. "This includes two original doses, and a third booster dose. You must have had your booster at least seven days before your cruise sets sail."
Guests will also need to provide official proof of their vaccination status, such as the NHS Covid Pass, at check-in. The firm adds: "If you are due to have your second vaccine less than three months before your cruise sets sail, you do not need to have had a booster vaccination."
Anyone who is exempt from having to have a vaccine will not be allowed to travel with Fred Olsen Cruises. The firm said: "We are very sorry, but for your health and safety and that of our guests and crew on board, we do require all guests to have received both doses of their vaccine before travelling with us."