The changes are nuanced, depending on embarkation ports and destinations and, in some cases, by cruise length, and vary by cruise line.
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line removed testing for vaccinated passengers on sailings less than 16 nights, and eliminated the exemption request process for unvaccinated travelers, who will only need to show a negative test result at embarkation. This takes effect Sept. 6.
Vaccinated travelers must continue to provide evidence of their vaccination status prior to embarkation. Pre-cruise testing is no longer required, except for cruises to Canada, Bermuda, Greece and Australia (per local guidelines), and on voyages 16 nights or longer.
Unvaccinated travelers still need to apply for an exemption to cruise in Australia or on voyages 16 nights and longer.
The unvaccinated, or those who do not provide proof of vaccination, must present a negative test taken within three days before embarking.
Children under 5 (from the US) and under 12 (from Australia) are exempt from vaccination and testing requirements.
Voyages 16 nights and longer will continue to have vaccination and testing requirements that are specific to the itinerary.
From Sept. 5, Royal Caribbean International will no longer require COVID-19 vaccination for cruises from California, Louisiana, Texas and Europe. The line said it still strongly recommends vaccination.
For the sailings from California, Louisiana, Texas and Europe, Royal Caribbean passengers won't need to show documentation of vaccination but the line will ask for vaccination status at check-in and recommended travelers carry their vaccination cards in case authorities or businesses in destinations ask to see those.
Passengers who are not fully vaccinated will need to bring a negative COVID-19 test result taken within three days before embarking.
In the case of European cruises, some destinations require travelers to be 'up to date' with their vacines to go ashore, Royal Caribbean said, and passengers may be subject to testing onboard in order to visit certain ports.
Also starting Sept. 5, Celebrity Cruises will discontinue its vaccination mandate for sailings from Los Angeles, the UK and Europe (but not Iceland). Celebrity 'highly recommended' vaccination although it won't be required for these trips.
For cruises of five or fewer nights from Los Angeles, vaccinated passengers won't need to test for COVID. Vaccinated travelers on cruises six nights or longer must present a negative supervised test taken within three days before embarking.
Unvaccinated travelers will need to show a negative supervised test taken within three days before embarking regardless of cruise length.
For sailings from Southampton, Ravenna and Civitavecchia, and Amsterdam, vaccinated travelers must present a negative COVID test taken within two days before embarking, while unvaccinated travelers must test negative within one day of sailing. Celebrity will accept any commercially available tests, including self tests that are not monitored or proctored.
Greece supervised test mandate
However, sailings visiting Greece require a supervised COVID test prior to embarking.
For cruises from Barcelona, both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers have to present a negative test taking within one day before embarking. Commercially available tests will be accepted, including self tests. Cruises visiting Greece require a supervised test.
Princess Cruises removed its vaccine requirement for most voyages of less than 16 days and adjusted testing requirements.
Starting Sept. 6, vaccinated travelers on cruises under 16 days will no longer have to test before embarking and only need to upload proof of vaccination while getting OceanReady. Unvaccinated travelers, or those who do not provide proof of vaccination, will need to self-test within three days before embarking and upload proof of a negative test.
There will be no pre-cruise testing for vaccinated travelers on cruises up to 15 nights, with the exception of full Panama Canal transits, trans-ocean and other special itineraries.
Passengers on cruises 16 nights or longer, or sailing on full Panama Canal transits, trans-ocean and other specific itineraries, need to take a supervised test within three days before embarking.
Unvaccinated children under 5 do not require pre-cruise testing.
These new guidelines apply to itineraries from all departure ports except where government regulations and protocols may vary like Canada, Greece and Australia.
Cunard testing changes, but not vaccination mandate
For Cunard, from Sept. 6, self-testing prior to travel will change from 'mandatory' to 'highly recommended' for vaccinated passengers on the vast majority of voyages.
Only those sailing on longer, more complex itineraries will be required to have an observed or in-person test prior to departure. These include a number of sailings of 16 nights or longer and other specific voyages.
These new guidelines apply to all Cunard cruises from Southampton and all other departure points, with the exception of countries where government regulations and protocols vary including Canada and Australia.
The vaccination policy for Cunard passengers remains the same. Those 16 and older must be vaccinated.