CDC Sets Mask Mandate for Cruises

Is a Vaccine Requirement Next?

Travel Pulse (February 3, 2021).- When cruise lines begin sailing in and around the United States again, passengers will be required to wear a mask for much of their time onboard to help battle COVID-19.

The new mandatory mask mandate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) applies to all forms of public transportation, including “aircraft, train, road vehicle, vessel or other means of transport.”

The order went into effect on February 1, but there are exceptions for children under two years old and passengers with a disability that inhibits wearing a mask, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Passengers will not be required to wear a mask while eating, drinking or taking medication.

While the new CDC facial covering mandate aligns with practices already put in place across the industry as part of the effort by cruise lines to return to sailing, guests who refuse to wear masks will be violating Federal law, which entails an entirely different set of punishments.

When asked about the mask mandate and its potential impact on the industry, Scott Lara of TheCruiseGenius.com shared his thoughts.

“I’m concerned that many previous cruise enthusiasts will not like the mask mandate. Can you imagine walking around the Lido deck wearing a mask?” Lara said. “I’ve been visiting all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Dominican Republic over the last 12 months. While mask wearing is encouraged, you won’t get fined if you choose not to wear a mask. I predict many cruisers will start visiting all-inclusive resorts.”

There are still questions about how many of the existing protocols developed by groups like the Healthy Sail Panel will remain in place or be changed to fit the current orders, but some cruise lines have already taken the next step by requiring COVID-19 vaccinations.

On Tuesday, sister companies American Queen Steamboat Co. (AQSC) and Victory Cruise Lines (VCL) became the first U.S. cruise lines to require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations from all passengers and crew members.

The first to announce a passenger vaccine requirement was a U.K. line, Saga, which requires proof of the two-dose vaccine at least 14 days before boarding the ship, effective May 4.

Norwegian Cruise Line is also considering a vaccine mandate for guests, but would require it for crew members.

Not everyone is happy about cruise lines considering mandatory vaccines.

“Cruise lines mandating COVID-19 vaccines will crush the industry. Many Americans are anti-vax and will refuse to take the vaccine,” Lara continued. “I’m very concerned that the CDC is biased against the cruise industry and will never agree to allow us to cruise again without severe restrictions.”

Karen Rutter of Expedia Cruises also believes the vaccine requirement is unnecessary.

“I do not think that there should be a vaccine requirement. There are too many different scenarios such as religious, personal, health reasons, etc.,” Rutter said. “It is too soon to make that mandate because we do not know if it is effective against various strains.”

“I am not sure how this would impact cruising because cruising is a worldwide mode of travel,” Rutter continued. “It seems that most Americans are taking the vaccine but I do not know stats for other countries who are choosing to cruise.

Source: Travel Pulse



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