Norwegian Cruise Line to eliminate COVID-19 testing, masking requirements

FILE PHOTO: The Norwegian Getaway cruise ship is seen docked at Miami port, after Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd cancelled sailings amid rising fears of Omicron-related coronavirus infections, in Miami, Florida, U.S. January 5, 2022. REUTERS/Marco Bello

(Reuters) – Norwegian Cruise Line said on Monday it was easing COVID-19 safety measures on its ships by dropping requirements for testing, masking and vaccination, as the pandemic loosens its grip on the world.

The decision by the cruise line comes after several countries lifted testing requirements for international air travelers as people return to pre-pandemic lifestyles across the globe.

The cruise line, owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, said even with the easing of its health and safety protocols, which will be effective Oct. 4, it would continue to follow travel guidelines as required by the destinations it visits.

The cruise industry was among the worst hit during the pandemic, as countries went into a lockdown mode to curb the spread of the virus. However, with the reopening of the world, the sector is showing signs of stability and dropping mandatory COVID-19 testing requirements.

The cruise operator said in August that it was relaxing its safety policies for vaccinated guests on Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, starting September.

Rivals Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean Group have also dropped mandatory testing for guests vaccinated against COVID-19 on some of their cruise lines.

Shares of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean were up about 3% each in morning trading, while Carnival’s shares were down 1%.

(Reporting by Ananya Mariam Rajesh and Granth Vanaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Anil D’Silva)

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