While covid has not gone away (and may never go away), vaccines, treatments, and other measures have slowly disappeared.
Quarantines and lockdowns ended. Then the U.S. slowly dropped mask requirements everywhere except when traveling via airplane, bus, and train. And eventually even those rules were recently dropped.
Now only international travel and the cruise industry actually still require covid testing. International travelers had to take a covid test no more than one day before entering the U.S.
Cruise passengers sailing on Royal Caribbean International (RCL) – Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) – Get Carnival Corporation Report, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) – Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report, and any other cruise line sailing from U.S. ports that opted into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voluntary regulation program must test no more than two days before their cruises.
That requirement added a level of hassle to taking a cruise. But it’s not the only covid testing requirement that affects the U.S. cruise industry. Dropping covid testing requirements for international travel will help the industry, and that’s something the CDC has just done.
CDC Brings Back International Travelers
The CDC — after much lobbying from the travel industry — has decided to stop requiring covid tests for international travelers. The rule will be dropped as of 12:01 a.m. on June 12.
That’s a very big deal for Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, and other cruise lines as it makes cruising much more possible for international travelers looking to cruise from U.S. ports.
“In 2019, more than 1 million guests from Canada sailed from a U.S. homeport, 570,000 guests from Brazil sailed from a U.S. homeport, and 280,000 from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America,” Cruisehive reported.
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“Removing the testing requirements for entry into the United States will take away most of the trepidations that guests have to travel to the U.S. for a cruise. It would make travel more accessible and open the cruise market to at least 2 million potential passengers.”
That’s very good news for the industry, but the CDC changes do not end the testing requirements Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, and other cruise lines have opted into. So, while international travelers could get into the U.S. without any testing, they will still need to take a test no more than two days before their cruises.
When Will the CDC Drop Testing Requirement for Cruises?
Cruise lines lack the leverage that airlines, hotels, and even theme parks have because they’re not U.S.-based businesses.
They also have a geography problem. While people can catch covid in hotels, on planes, and in theme parks, they don’t generally stay in those places very long.
But if they get sick on or shortly after a cruise, it’s fairly clear where they got infected. For cruise lines, where seven-day (or even longer) experiences are common, a week gives someone enough time to catch covid and show symptoms while onboard, which creates a risk of spread.
Basically, much of the travel industry has plausible deniability and cruise lines…