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If your vacation planning includes taking an international or domestic cruise, there’s more than just a packing list to consider or which drinks package fits you best. One of the trickier questions to tackle is “do cruises require vaccinations?”

That’s because the short answer is, “it depends!”

Cruise vaccination requirements will vary by cruise line, where you embark from and which ports of call you choose. And, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve, vaccination requirements shift as well.

Find What You Need

Do Cruises Require Vaccinations for Covid?

In the fall of 2022, many popular cruise lines dropped the requirement for passengers to be up-to-date on Covid-19 vaccinations. For instance, Norwegian Cruise Line (Aging.com’s pick for Best For Families) began waiving vaccination and testing requirements in October.

Others have eliminated both Covid vaccination requirements and testing requirements for some, but not all, passengers based on itineraries or cruise lengths. For instance, Princess Cruises maintains a list of “Enhanced Guidelines Voyages,” and its CruiseHeath look-up tool is available to anyone. Booked guests can get up-to-date information using the Cruise Personalizer tool.

Keep in mind that each cruise line determines its own health and wellness protocols. What was true for your friend who took a Viking cruise in fall 2022 may not apply to the cruise you booked for a 2023 voyage on Carnival. Check with your specific cruise line for the latest information, keeping in mind that the rules can and do shift.

Covid-19 Vaccine Requirements By Ports of Call

Part of the fun of cruise travel is the ability to disembark at wonderful ports of call to soak in the local culture. As an arriving tourist, you’ll be subject to that country or city’s Covid vaccination protocol.

For example, Viking Cruises (which currently still requires Covid-19 vaccinations for passengers but has dropped testing requirements) maintains a highly detailed list of requirements for country-specific travel requirements including links to specific forms and timing details.

Again, your cruise line will be the best source of this information and don’t be surprised if requirements change over time. Another source of up-to-date location-based health information is the Travel Information site maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

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Other Vaccination Requirements for Cruises

While the pandemic has made most of us equate “vaccine” with “Covid-19,” depending on where you travel, protecting your health by getting or boosting vaccinations for things hepatitis, yellow fever and other diseases may be required or recommended.

Because you may visit multiple locations on a cruise, you need to know the requirements for all your ports of call. And, some cruise stops may then trigger requirements for ports of call later in the trip.

For instance, a Panama Canal cruise making a stop in Colombia triggers vaccine requirements for ports later in the itinerary. Those requirements would not be necessary on the same cruise without a stop in Colombia.

Again, your cruise company will have the details you need based on your specific itinerary.

Other sources include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travelers’ Health site that maintains up-to-date information on current health situations around the world, general healthy travel tips and help in finding a travel health clinic

You can also work with a local travel medicine clinic to determine what vaccinations or preventative measures are recommended based on your itinerary. Using the searchable directory at the International Society of Travel Medicine can connect you with a provider based on your location or specific needs.

When you book an appointment with a travel medicine clinic, they’ll ask you for your specific itinerary and vaccination history, and can usually provide any necessary vaccines on-site. 

The Bottom Line

Cruise travel will always be a popular way to see the world from a unique vantage point. As the Covid-19 pandemic evolves, Covid-specific vaccine requirements for passengers have evolved, too. When you add in that ports of call may also have specific requirements, it’s important to check with your cruise line or other sources early and often to answer the critical question “do cruises require vaccinations?” The answer may not be as simple as you think!

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