What You Need to Know: Pre-Cruise Testing Requirements

A detailed guide to cruising requirements by cruise line. - Photo by Canva

(Latest Update: February 21, 2022) The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends travelers going on a cruise get tested for COVID-19 prior to sailing. In response, cruise lines have instituted testing policies for guests of all ages (regardless of vaccination status) to present proof of negative COVID test prior to embarkation. These tests must be taken within a specified amount of time prior to the cruise, with policies differing per line. 

Due to these new tight timelines for passengers, cruise lines have begun to share suggested testing resources for passengers to meet this deadline. At Cruiseline.com, we’ve rounded up the information from the major cruise lines to help you understand the new policies and potential testing resources.

Carnival Cruise Line 

  • Testing Policy:  
    • All guests cruising with Carnival must present a negative antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) COVID-19 test at check-in, taken at least 48-hours prior to sailing date. Effective March 1, 2022, guests who are up to date with their vaccines (ie. received a booster if eligible) may take their test within three days (72-hours) prior to sailing. Guests may also take the test on the morning of embarkation, so long as they are guaranteed to receive their test results before their time of check-in. Test results must be presented at time of check-in along with proof of full vaccination. 
    • Unvaccinated guests must take an additional antigen test at embarkation, and test again within 24 hours of debarkation on all cruises longer than 4 days. A $150 per person charge will be added to the individual’s account. 
    • Guests (either fully vaccinated or not) who have recovered from COVID-19 within three months of their sailing date, do not need the required pre-cruise COVID test before embarkation if they are at least 10 days past their COVID-19 infection, have no symptoms, and must present documentation of recovery from COVID-19 from their healthcare provider. 

  • Pre-Cruise Testing Resources Provided from Carnival: 
    • Self-administered telehealth COVID-19 tests for vaccinated guests will satisfy the pre-cruise testing requirement. The test must have Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, and the self-test process must happen under live supervision on a video call with a telehealth representative. The telehealth provider must issue you a result document that includes all the necessary information. The resulting document must be presented at the time of check-in. 
      • Fully vaccinated guests may consider using the Abbott BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Ag Card Home Test which includes a viral antigen home test and the services of an eMed telemedicine professional who will supervise the administration of the test and provide your results in 15 minutes. Test kits ship to all 50 states and arrive in three business days.
    • Carnival Corporation has established an agreement with Quest Diagnostics to facilitate access to pre-cruise COVID-19 viral testing. Guests may schedule testing with Quest Diagnostics at more than 1,500 locations. Appointments are required and may be scheduled online via Quest Diagnostic's website. Results are typically available within 48 hours, but Quest advises that turnaround time can fluctuate. 
    • Guests can also contact their nearest health center, pharmacy, state health department, or transiting airport to learn about COVID-19 testing availability.
    • Beginning January 21, 2022, Carnival will use the VeriFLY solution for its operations from U.S. homeports. "VeriFLY by Daon is now widely used in the airline industry, and it will allow Carnival guests to upload their proof of vaccination and testing information so that it can be verified in advance of the sailing – resulting in a streamlined embarkation experience at the terminal. Once the pilot at Port Canaveral is complete, Carnival intends to move quickly to implement the solution across its fleet," said the line in an official announcement. 
    • As of January 2022, Carnival is working to expand testing capabilities at the terminal for vaccinated guests, specifically for short itineraries (3- and 4-day voyages). Once implemented, vaccinated guests will be able to meet the pre-cruise testing requirement as part of the embarkation process. Pre-registration will be required, and there will be capacity limits based on the resources of testing providers. More details will be provided on this testing shortly. 
  • Carnival Cruise line has instituted the following policy for mask-wearing:
    • All guests, ages two and above, are required to wear masks at all times when indoors, except when eating or drinking or when in their own staterooms and when outdoors if in large gatherings and physical distancing cannot be maintained. As advised by health experts, guests are recommended to use higher-grade masks indoors (such as surgical or KN95) that have two or more layers, completely cover the nose and mouth, fit snugly against the sides of the face and have a nose wire.

    • All guests must wear masks during the entire embarkation and debarkation process (at the home port and ports of call, including the onboard pre-debarkation process), during any Carnival-approved shore excursions, and while on any transportation vehicles, including water shuttles. Additionally, when going ashore, guests must be prepared to follow all local guidance regarding masks and physical distancing. The status of local guidelines will be shared with guests prior to debarkation at the destination.

    • Read the latest health and safety protocols from Carnival Cruise Line here

Celebrity Cruises

  • Testing Policy 
    • All vaccinated guests are required to present a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or NAAT) result at the time of embarkation. This test may be taken as either as an Antigen or PCR test, conducted within two days of boarding the vessel. Each guest is responsible for making their own arrangements with an accredited testing provider as well as covering all associated costs. 
    • All unvaccinated children (five and under) will be required to bring a negative Antigen or PCR test result conducted within three days of embarkation. 
    • COVID tests must be supervised by a health professional. You must receive a valid results document from your test provider that includes provider name, your name, the date the test was taken, type of test, and your negative result. This can be a printed document, email, or telehealth app notification. Handwritten doctor’s notes will not be accepted. Telehealth testing at home will only be accepted when it meets certain guidelines. 
    • All fully vaccinated guests requiring a COVID-19 test to return to their home country will be provided the option to receive complimentary testing in the cruise terminal during disembarkation. Proof of return travel scheduled within 24 hours of disembarkation will be required.
  • Mask Policy (as of January 2022) - As a result of increased COVID-19 cases associated with the Omicron variant, masks will be required for all guests (regardless of vaccination status,) at all times indoors except while eating or drinking. 
  • Pre-Cruise Testing Resources - Celebrity has provided the following recommended resources for guests to help find an approved testing provider: 
    • Telehealth self-home tests are accepted by Celebrity if they meet the following conditions: 
      • The test must have Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA.
      • The self-test process must happen under live supervision on a video call with a telehealth representative.
      • Telehealth provider must issue you a result document that includes all the necessary information.
      • Two tests that meet these parameters are the Abbott BinaxNow COVID-19 Ag Card Test or the eMed Covid-19 Test with Video Observation Services
    • Most local pharmacy chains offer COVID-19 testing, and most county or state websites can help with locating a local public testing site. Guests can also go to a doctor’s office, diagnostic lab, or telehealth provider for a test.
    • For fully vaccinated guests living in the United States., a home-test kit from Optum is available for purchase on the Celebrity website. Under this test, you can complete your pre-cruise test at home with the help of video supervision by a Certified Guide. Kits are within three business days, however Celebrity recommends placing an order at least a full week before the day the guest plans to take the test. Validated test results are delivered within 15 minutes

Disney Cruise Line

  • Testing Policy 
    • Guests on cruises January 13, 2022 and beyond who are 5 years of age and older must be vaccinated and upload their proof of vaccination to Disney’s Safe Passage website
    • Guests younger than 5 are not required to be vaccinated but must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result (paid for by the guest) taken between 3 days and 24 hours before your sail date. The test should be a rapid PCR test or a lab-based PCR test. Rapid antigen tests are not accepted. In order to sail, all unvaccinated Guests must upload their proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results to the Safe Passage website
    • All guests, regardless of age and vaccination status, are required to take a COVID-19 test (paid for by Disney Cruise Line and administered by Inspire Diagnostics) at the terminal before boarding. 
    • Any guests with positive COVID-19 test results, including those in their travel party, will be denied boarding. Guests may also be denied boarding if Inspire Diagnostics has not received the required documentation and/or pre-arrival test results needed to sail. 
  • Pre-Cruise Testing Resources - Disney Cruise Line has provided guests with multiple options for completing their pre-trip COVID-19 testing: 
    • Guests (residing in the United States) can purchase a pre-trip, at-home PCR test directly from the Safe Passage website by Inspire Diagnostics. Tests must be completed and mailed back 3 days before sailing, or dropped off at a Central Florida testing location offered by Inspire Diagnostics. 
    • Guests can use the Safe Passage website to purchase and schedule a pre-trip test to be performed at one of the Inspire Diagnostics testing locations set up for Disney Cruise Line Guests near the cruise terminal, one to 3 days before their sail date. Results take 24 to 48 hours to process and will be sent to the email address provided during the registration on the Safe Passage website.
    • Guests may obtain their PCR test from any independent testing provider. If submitting a test sample to an independent provider by mail, overnight is recommended. Guests must upload test results from an independent testing provider to the Safe Passage website and follow the prompts. 

Holland America Line

  • Testing Policy 
    • All guests sailing with Holland America on any cruise through March 31, 2022, must present proof of a negative, medically observed, viral COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen). This negative test result must be taken within 2 days of their embarkation. 
    • The following formats are acceptable proofs of a negative COVID-19 test: paper test results (original only, no photocopies accepted), digital or emailed COVID-19 test results, or record of COVID-19 testing from a healthcare provider including original digital email notification or personal electronic health record.
    • To board the ship, each guest must present a negative COVID test result as well as proof of COVID-19 vaccination. 
    • What happens if I don’t have my COVID-19 test results back in time before I board? Holland America has provided the following response to this question, “Starting Sept 13th, proof of negative test result needs to be taken within 2 days of embarkation. We require ALL guests to produce a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) taken within the required timeframe. We realize some of our guests are having a challenge getting a pre-cruise COVID-19 test. We are working to set up mobile testing sites at all our embarkation homeports to conduct a rapid test the day before or day of your departure. We are still finalizing the details and will announce those shortly. You should consider this as a backup alternative should you not receive your test results back in time. If you bring proof of testing without results to the pier Holland America Line will test you at no charge. Guests who arrive without a negative test result will experience delayed embarkation and risk denied boarding and subject to quarantine should a positive result be returned.” 
  • Pre-Cruise Testing Resources - Holland America Line has provided the following resources for passengers to complete pre-cruise testing requirements: 
    • For U.S. guests, Holland America Line has partnered with Quest Diagnostics to provide a COVID-19 test appointment, with results delivered within 48 hours. 
    • You can also contact your nearest health center, pharmacy, state health department, or transiting airport to learn more about their availability for COVID-19 testing.
  • As of December 20, Holland America Line has updated its mask onboard policy to the following:
    • For all cruises through January 31, 2022 - All guests, ages two and above, are requested to wear masks at all times when indoors, except when eating or drinking or when in their own staterooms and when outdoors if in large gatherings and physical distancing cannot be maintained.
    • For all cruises Feb. 1, 2022 - March 31, 2022 - All guests will be encouraged to wear face masks and they will be required in elevators and in designated indoor entertainment areas, all retail shops, and in the casino, except when eating or drinking. Guests will be required to wear face masks prior to being seated in all dining venues and Lido Market and occasionally in other areas where larger numbers of guests may congregate. 
    • For all of Holland America Line's health and safety protocols visit here

MSC Cruises

  • Testing Policy  
    • All fully vaccinated guests must provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test at the pier. The test must be taken within 2 days of departure and the guest is responsible for the test and cost. Fully vaccinated guests must provide either a negative RT-PCR test, negative NAAT or negative antigen test. 
    • Any not fully vaccinated guest 2-11 years old must provide documentation of a negative RT-PCR, or other nucleic amplification tests (NAAT) at the pier (antigen is not accepted). The test must be taken no more than 3 days before arriving at the terminal for embarkation and the guest is responsible for the cost. 
    • Tests must be taken with an accredited test provider (drugstore chain, diagnostic lab or accredited at-home telehealth provider) and taken no more than 2 days before arriving at the terminal for embarkation. Guests will be required to show their negative test results upon arriving at the pier. The results can be printed out or can be presented on your phone, such as the email result from your test provider. Test results will need to clearly show the type of test (Antigen, RT-PCR or NAAT), testing location/provider’s name, a negative result, the guest’s name, and date and time the test was taken. Costs associated are the guests' responsibility.
  • Pre-Cruise Testing Resources - MSC will accept telehealth self-tests, and have provided the following resources to ensure these tests meet their requirements:
    • The test must have Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. FDA
    • The self-test process must happen under live supervision on a video call with a telehealth representative
    • The telehealth provider must issue you a result document that includes all the necessary information
    • One test that meets these parameters is the supervised Abbott BinaxNow COVID-19 Ag Card Test available through the Abbott Navica app, or purchased at eMed.com or optum.com. Please note that test kits purchased online must be shipped to your home, and may take up to 5 business days to arrive after you order. 

Norwegian Cruise Line

  • Testing Policy  
    • At the time of check-in, guests will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen or PCR test result administered by a verified third party within two days prior to boarding for cruises originating in a U.S. port and within three days prior to boarding voyages departing from a non-U.S. port. For guests who are unable to provide proof of a negative result at the time of embarkation, testing will be available at the terminal at the guests’ expense.
    • Guests are responsible for complying with all local health and safety requirements which may include additional testing. If your departure point is outside of the United States, the line strongly encourages you to check the testing policy of the country prior to departure. 
    • Norwegian will send an embarkation letter to all guests prior to the date of departure. This will include all the tips on what to know prior to leaving home and for arrival at the terminal. 

Oceania

  • Testing Policy
    • Until further notice, all guests will undergo complementary pier-side COVID-19 antigen testing prior to embarkation.
    • Oceania strongly recommend that all guests consult with local government websites to determine the country-specific information for your port of embarkation as many countries require a negative COVID-19 PCR test that is not older than 48 or 72 hours prior to arrival in-country. 

    • Even if the country where your cruise embarks does not require a negative COVID-19 PCR test for entry, Oceania Cruises strongly recommends you obtain a PCR test not more than 72 hours prior to embarkation. If a PCR test is not readily available, the line encourages guests to, at a minimum, take a laboratory-administered COVID-19 antigen test not more than 72 hours prior to embarkation. 

Princess Cruises 

  • Testing Policy  
    • Princess Cruises requires a COVID-19 test to be taken 2 days prior to the sailing date for all guests over 12. 
    • Guests who received a vaccination exemption are still required to take a negative PCR test within 2 days prior to embarkation and will be tested again in the terminal prior to boarding the ship and again within 24 hours of debarkation (for itineraries five days or longer). Unvaccinated guests will continue to be charged $150 per person for testing and administration.
    • What happens if I don’t get my results on time? Princess provided the following information to guests with this matter, “We understand that it may be difficult for some of our guests to find testing that can provide results within a 2-day turnaround. Accordingly, for guests who did not receive their test results within 2 days prior to their embarkation, we are working to set up mobile testing sites near our embarkation ports to conduct COVID-19 testing the day before, or day of, your cruise departure. The company providing the testing will charge a per-person fee. Providers will not accept insurance, but you will be provided a receipt should you wish to submit the cost to your insurance carrier. Please consider this as a backup alternative should you not be able to make arrangements prior to leaving home.”
  • Pre-Cruise Testing Resources - Princess Cruises has provided these resources for pre-cruise testing options: 
    • For U.S. guests, Princess is partnered with Quest Diagnostics to provide COVID-19 test appointments, with test results delivered within 48 hours after taking your test. 
    • Princess also recommends guests contact your nearest health center, pharmacy, state health department, or transiting airport to learn more about their availability for COVID-19 testing.
    • Additionally, Princess has also partnered with Optum so that U.S.-based vaccinated guests can order an FDA-authorized at-home antigen test kit, shipped to your door in 3 business days or less. These at-home tests include a personal virtually video-supervised visit with an eMed Certified Guide through telehealth services. These guides will help you properly administer the test and verify the results, within 15 minutes. The lab result report is delivered via email and can be printed or displayed on your mobile device during check-in. Please place your order with enough time to be shipped prior to your boarding. 

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

  • Testing Policy
    • For voyages beginning before March 1, 2022, all guests will be required to take a COVID-19 antigen test, administered and paid for by the cruise line, prior to boarding and receive a negative result.
    • For voyages beginning on or after March 1, 2022, all guests are required to complete a COVID-19 PCR or Antigen test from a lab or pharmacy within 48 hours of arriving to the terminal for cruises beginning in a U.S. port or within 72 hours for all other cruises. 

Royal Caribbean

  • Testing Policy   
    • Vaccinated guests age 12 and older must show a negative COVID-19 test result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 2 days before boarding day. 
    • Unvaccinated kids age 2 to 11 must show a negative test result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 3 days before boarding day. Kids’ pre-cruise test cannot be taken on boarding day, because that may affect the sample taken during the kids’ test at the terminal.
    • Guests under 2 years of age do not need to complete a pre-cruise test. 
  • Pre-Cruise Testing Resources - The following options have been presented by Royal Caribbean for guests cruising with the line:
    • At-home testing kits: Royal Caribbean guests that are fully vaccinated can now order at-home antigen test kits, shipped right to your door anywhere in the U.S. Complete your pre-cruise test at home, with live video supervised by an eMed Certified Guide. Get your results in 15 minutes. The tests are available in a pack of two for $69.99 or a pack of three for $99.99, which includes the test kits, expedited shipping, and live virtual visit.
    • Boarding Day Testing at Port: This is a limited option for vaccinated guests only. This method is by appointment only. Guests will have to wait up to an hour for results outside of the terminal. 
  • Royal Caribbean has instituted a mask policy for all cruises through Jan. 5, 2021. The line will now require masks indoors at all times, unless actively eating or drinking. This new update also applies to vaccinated areas and venues. To read the most recent onboard protocols from Royal Caribbean visit here

Virgin Voyages 

  • Testing Policy - 
    • Guests on Virgin Voyages will be required to take an antigen test before boarding. The testing will occur at the terminal and will be provided free of charge by Virgin Voyages, so Sailors will need to arrive 2 hours prior to their scheduled embarkation time to ensure time for the test. 
    • All guests are accountable for making necessary COVID-testing plans after disembarkation from the ship. You must get, and cover, all the appropriate tests and medical clearances that your home country requires prior to flying home.
    • At this time, Virgin Voyages does not have a pre-cruise COVID testing requirement (other than the required test at the pier prior to boarding) and has not provided resources for pre-cruise testing. 

These testing requirements may change over time. We will continually provide updates to this story if they become available. 

1 Comment

Posted by JustWanna2

Good coverage for US cruisers. We international cruisers need info on requirements for us. For instance, right now MSC states that Canadian/International passengers need a PCR test 72 hours before cruising. Thank you in advance.

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