At least three cruise lines have announced plans to require COVID-19 booster shots of its guests, signalling a possible trend of what’s to come as the cruise industry grapples with ongoing Omicron-related challenges.
Germany-based luxury line Hapag-Lloyd Cruises posted a statement this week announcing that all guests will need a COVID-19 booster in cases where it has been more than three months since the original vaccination.
According to the company, the new rule applies to sailings starting from mid-February and will be in place until further notice.
It was introduced for the purpose of “further increasing safety for passengers and crew and based on the current vaccination recommendation of STIKO [the Standing Committee on Vaccination], which recommends a booster vaccination after three months.”
Proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, including the booster, must be presented at embarkation, said Hapag-Lloyd, which is also reminding guests that from Feb. 2, all guests aged 12 and above will also need to be fully vaccinated to sail (as opposed to the current rule of guests aged 18 and above).
Small ship adventure cruise line UnCruise Adventures has also announced that booster shots will be required of guests starting Feb. 5, 2022.
“We require full vaccination to board, including a booster for all of those who are eligible, along with a negative molecular COVID test,” reads a company statement, which was posted on Dec. 30, 2021.
The new rule will apply to “eligible” guests, which refers to those who quality for and have access to boosters in their home country, the company said.
The U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has strongly recommended that all persons over 16 years obtain a COVID-19 booster vaccination when eligible.
River cruise and small ship specialist Grand Circle Cruise Line has also added a booster shot requirement that will take effect on April 1, according to a Jan. 10 post on its website.
All local program directors and trip experience leaders will be fully vaccinated—including a booster shot—against COVID-19, says the company, noting guests must have their booster shot at least 14 days before departure.
Royal Caribbean, which owns part of Hapag-Lloyd, doesn’t require booster shots of guests, but in alignment with the CDC, “strongly recommends” them.
In addition: “All Royal Caribbean crew members are fully vaccinated and receive a booster dose as they become eligible (six months after their last dose),” the company states.
Carnival Cruise Line also strongly encourages all guests who are eligible to get their booster vaccine at least seven days before boarding.