The Current State of Cruise Ship Safety - My Family Travels

Just in time for Easter breaks (and summer planning), the Centers for Disease Control lifted its warnings about cruise ship safety. The CDC still recommends that travelers be “up to date” with their COVID-19 vaccines and take a Covid test before cruising. Those who are at increased risk from Covid are advised to seek medical advice before cruising.

Six Carnival cruise ships reunite at sea to celebrate the company's 50th anniversary.
Six Carnival cruise ships reunite at sea to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary.

CLIA, the world’s largest cruise industry association, notes that the industry’s health and safety protocols “are unmatched by virtually any other commercial setting.“ CLIA member cruise ships now have medical, isolation and quarantine facilities on site. Additionally, they implement extensive response plans using private shoreside resources.

Are Vaccinations Required to Cruise?

Vaccination rules are being relaxed to allow children under age 5 and others not eligible for vaccines to resume cruise vacations. At Holland America Lines (HAL), for example, children ages 5 and under are being welcomed aboard without a vaccine.

Keep in mind that guests who travel internationally should always ensure they understand all entry and airline requirements to travel (including connecting airports.) This includes to and from their home country and the destinations they plan to visit, including where health authorities may require pre-travel COVID-19 testing. Regulations on cruise ship safety continue to be updated regularly.

Sailing Healthy and More Easily with Technology

Passenger uses Verifly App to store Covid-19 health documents and vaccination records before boarding a cruise ship.
Passenger uses Verifly cruise ship safety app to store Covid-19 health documents and expedite the boarding of a cruise ship.

Cruise lines are also continually evolving their cruise ship safety protocols to meet the latest public health guidance. For example, many have incorporated apps that safely store health and vaccine records.

“VeriFLY helps our guests easily and securely complete pre-embarkation tasks right from their smartphone,” said Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy. This technology saves passengers time so they can board ships sooner. Another example is touchless technology that provides activity schedules to keep the onboard environments safe.

Carnival, like other cruise lines, cites the improving public health situation and rigorous cruise ship safety protocols for improved consumer confidence in resuming cruise vacations.

Safer than Walmart, declared Gary Posavad, sailing with his wife aboard Carnival’s new ship Mardi Gras. “There is more space… more options for food and drinks. Honestly, we feel more comfortable on board than at Walmart,” especially because of the high vaccination rate and pre-boarding COVID-19 requirements imposed by most cruise lines.

More Young Families Can Cruise

Young children not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine no longer count as part of the CDC’s calculation that 95% of those on board are fully vaccinated. That means more families with young children can now cruise, knowing that 95% of passengers and crew are vaccinated. To ensure cruise ship safety, this is a far higher percentage than at many places, families say.

The latest HAL deal for bookings takes the new rules into account, while catering to families. HAL’s offer includes stateroom upgrades, reduced deposits, $75 kids’ fares for ages 17 and under on Alaska departures and up to $200 onboard spending money. Passengers can bundle shore excursions, beverages, specialty dining and Wi-Fi into a “Have It All” premium package.

Mask requirements have also been loosened starting March 1 on Carnival, Holland America and Princess, among others. 

Cruise Ships Return to Service with Many Deals

Two men ride Bolt Coaster on deck of Carnival Mardi Gras ship while moored at Atlantis, Bahamas.
Get your kicks on the BOLT coaster, towering over the deck of the Carnival Mardi Gras. The new ship is moored at Atlantis, Paradise Island. Photo by Mike Peck.

This good news arrives during a time when more than three-quarters of CLIA member ships have returned to service. Almost all ocean-going ships are expected to be sailing by the end of the year, including 16 new cruise ships. That gives families plenty of choices. You can find out what services are on offer in the 2022 Cruise with Kids Family Guide, created together with our partners at Taking the Kids. Follow the cruise line you intend to sail on social media for health protocol updates—and deals.

Holland America, for example, has special deals for military, healthcare works and first responders. Carnival Cruise Lines, with many 50th anniversary deals, has three and four-day cruises starting at under $130 per person. A travel advisor who is a cruise expert can help—and likely get you some extra perks.

Stay Up to Date as Regulations Will Continue to Change

Princess Cruises shore excursion in Alaska visits sled dog puppies.
Meet sled dog puppies on a Princess Cruises shore excursion in Alaska. Photo c. Carnival Cruise Lines

Public health issues are not the only variables on upcoming cruises. International regulations and border crossings are also in flux.  In very good news for cruisers and those who have Alaska on their bucket list, the Canadian government has announced the safe resumption of cruising in Canadian ports.

That’s why Alaska specialist Princess Cruises has finalized programs and guest experiences for a full summer season of 2022 cruises and cruisetours to Alaska. Many cruise offerings are up to 40% off. Their popular summer and fall Canada and New England programs will soon resume as well.

Meanwhile, Princess is also continuing its successful contactless cruise technology. Passengers are given an Ocean Medallion, a quarter-sized, wearable device that enables contactless boarding, restaurant bookings, staying in touch with other passengers, even a delivery service.

Cruise Ship Safety with Kids — Read the Fine Print

We hope it’s clear that you’ll have to carefully read all the fine print before booking and, then again, before sailing, as protocols change.

If you plan to cruise with children, know that some cruise lines, including Carnival, are limiting organized programs to vaccinated children ages 5 and older. Princess and Holland America require all those eligible to be vaccinated, including children 5 years and older.

Be forewarned that you may not be able to go ashore at certain ports with unvaccinated children and they may be subject to additional testing at your expense. It will still be a memorable family cruise.

Look for the information you need on the cruise line’s websites. However, an experienced cruise travel advisor can help you choose the right cruise line for you family and navigate all the details — even snagging a perk or two.

Ready to have some fun?  Bon voyage!

Author Eileen Ogintz, syndicated columnist of “Taking the Kids,” has enjoyed dozens of cruises with her family. She contributed this blog post on behalf of sponsor, Carnival Cruise Lines.

Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.

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