Search for your ideal Cruise
Where would you like to go?
Departure dates
Cruise type
Cruise line
Face mask main
Credit: Shutterstock

Do cruise ships require masks? Full list of major cruise lines' face mask rules

Author: Harriet Mallinson

Published on:

Updated on:

Face masks have become a part of everyday life - but are they required onboard cruise ships? This is your guide to the mask policy of all major cruise lines.

Cruise lines vary in their approach to face masks, with the majority requiring coverings to be worn in public areas.

Some companies are more relaxed, however. This is what you need to know.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival strongly encourages everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask in most indoor venues where people congregate.

The policy states: "We strongly encourage all guests to wear face masks when indoors, particularly guests who are unvaccinated, including children under the age of 12 who should wear masks in public areas, except when eating or drinking.

"All guests age 2 and older will be required to wear face masks in elevators and in designated indoor entertainment areas, all retail shops, and in the casino, except when eating or drinking. Guests will be required to wear face masks prior to being seated in our main dining rooms and in the Lido Buffet area and occasionally in other designated areas where larger number of guests may congregate (signs will be posted). Additionally, masks are required at any indoor activity with children under 12 years.

"All guests must wear masks during the entire embarkation and debarkation process (at the home port and ports of call, including the onboard pre-debarkation process), during any Carnival-approved shore excursions and while on any transportation vehicles, including water shuttles."

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity says that fully vaccinated passengers are not required to wear masks outside or inside, with social distancing still in place. However, unvaccinated travellers will need to wear a mask, but not while seated for dinner, nor outdoors.

The company's advice states: "You'll find a welcome kit with a mask for each guest and hand sanitiser for your room. However, we encourage you to pack and wear your own face masks, as they are required in terminal and may be required onboard or ashore depending on your itinerary. Cloth masks will also be available for purchase onboard in the shops."

Related articles

Cunard

Cunard requires face masks indoors but not outside. It states: "Mandatory wearing of face masks with no exceptions will be required at the terminal, during shore experiences and at all times when indoors on board, except when having your identity checked at the gangway or while eating and drinking, inside your stateroom, using recreational water facilities, exercising in the gym and during certain treatments or services, such as facials.

"Face masks do not need to be worn outdoors except when social distancing cannot be maintained. We would always recommend you wash your mask daily and choose a good quality, ideally medical-grade, standard."

Fred. Olsen

Fred. Olsen's mask policy explains: All guests will have to wear a face mask when moving around inside the ship and where social distancing is not possible (we do ask for a mask, rather than a shield or covering).

"You will not need to wear a mask when you are out on deck or sitting down, for example when you’re enjoying something to eat or a drink in one of our new bars or lounges."

- READ MORE: Vaccine, testing and entry requirements for holiday destinations -

Holland America Line

Holland America Line's advice is: "We strongly encourage guests to wear face masks when in public spaces indoors. ALL guests will be required to wear a face mask – with no exceptions – in elevators and in designated indoor entertainment areas, all retail shops, and in the casino except when eating or drinking.

"All guests must wear masks during the entire embarkation and debarkation process (at the home port and at any port of call), during water shuttle operations and while on any shoreside transportation.

"Guests will also be required to wear face masks prior to being seated in our main dining rooms and in the buffet area, and occasionally in other designated areas where a larger number of guests may congregate.

"Please note that visors and face shields will not be accepted as a substitute for a face mask. Unvaccinated guests will be required to wear a face mask at all times while indoors, in accordance with health authority requirements.

"Additionally, when going ashore, guests must be prepared to follow all local guidance regarding masks and physical distancing. The status of local guidelines will be shared with guests prior to debarkation at the destination."

Fred Olsen Bolette
Fred Olsen "expects masks will need to be worn in areas of the ship where social distancing is not possible." Credit: Fred. Olsen

MSC Cruises

MSC's face coverings rule is: "Face masks required when in public areas, except when seated in restaurants, bars, lounges, and when sitting on the sun deck.

"You will be asked to wear a face mask during embarkation and while in the terminal in compliance with local regulations.

"Face masks do not need to be worn when seated in restaurants, bars and lounges, only when entering the venue."

Norwegian Cruise Line

NCL passengers will not have to wear as they all must be fully vaccinated. The cruise line states: “breathe freely and witness smiles everywhere you go!”

- READ MORE: Top 10 destinations for 2022 from Norway to Mauritius -

P&O Cruises

Face masks will be required indoors but not outdoors. P&O Cruises' face mask policy explains: "Mandatory wearing of face masks, with no exceptions, will be required at the terminal, during shore experiences and at all times when indoors on board, except when having your identity checked at the gangway or while: eating and drinking; inside your cabin; using recreational water facilities; exercising in the gym and during certain treatments or services, such as facials.

"Face masks do not need to be worn outdoors except when social distancing cannot be maintained. Please note that visors and face shields will not be accepted as a substitute for a face mask."

Couple masks
Cruise holidays: Cruise lines vary in their approach to face masks. Credit: Shutterstock

Princess Cruises

Princess states: "When physical distancing can’t be maintained, or when mandated by public health authorities, masks will be required on board, at private islands, and during shore excursions. Masks must be worn in terminals, during embarkation and disembarkation.

"All guests will be required to wear a face mask - with no exceptions - in elevators and in designated indoor entertainment areas, all retail shops, and in the casino except when eating or drinking.

"Guests will also be required to wear face masks prior to being seated in our main dining rooms and in the buffet area, and occasionally in other designated areas where a larger number of guests may congregate.

"Please note that visors and face shields will not be accepted as a substitute for a face mask. Unvaccinated guests will be required to wear a face mask at all times while indoors, in accordance with health authority requirements."

- READ MORE: Major cruise lines' vaccine policies explained -

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean passengers are required to wear masks while indoors onboard the ship, unless eating or drink and while visiting public ports of call if required on land.

Masks are not required to be worn in open-air areas of the ship, unless you are in a crowded setting, in the pool, at events where only vaccinated passengers are or in your private residence.

"Also, guests should not wear masks while engaged in activities that may cause the mask to become wet, like when swimming in our pools, or when participating in strenuous activities, such as jogging, running, or fitness classes at the Vitality Spa and Fitness Center.

"Note that neck gaiters, open chin bandanas and scarves, and face masks with valves do not meet health authority guidelines and will not be permitted."

Related articles

Viking Cruises

Viking Cruises explains: "Face masks may be required for all guests and crew while moving about the ship, depending on conditions at time of sailing.

"Viking may require guests and staff to wear a face mask while ashore, depending on local requirements."

- READ MORE: Viking cruise line EVP on best cruises for 2022 -

Virgin Voyages

Virgin has a more flexible approach, with its policy clarifying: "For masks, we follow the same guidance as is recommended on land in accordance with the CDC and UK government — so if people are advised to wear masks there, we will do so at sea, as well."

NB. The above is correct at the time of writing but may be subject to change so do please check with your cruise line ahead of sailing.

Dover

Known as the gateway of England, Dover welcomes millions of visitors from all over the globe each…

Read more

Newcastle

From Georgie Shore-esque under-dressed women standing outside bars in the dead of winter to…

Read more

Liverpool

The home of the Three Graces, the Beatles and countless art galleries and museums to rival London,…

Read more

Southampton

Lying near the head of Southampton Water, a peninsula between the estuaries of the Rivers Test and…

Read more

Portsmouth

Portsmouth, or ‘Pompey’ as the locals lovingly refer to it, has many claims to fame, having been…

Read more

Jersey

The largest island in the Channel Islands, Jersey is a wonderful fusion of French and British…

Read more

Guernsey

The captivating Channel Island of Guernsey wows on first appearance. Sailing into the…

Read more

Edinburgh

The magical city of Edinburgh has been captivating visitors for centuries and for good reason.…

Read more

Dublin

Dublin is making a comeback. The decade-long "Celtic Tiger" boom era was quickly followed by the…

Read more

Cobh

The last port of call on the Titanic’s ill-fated voyage, the seaside town on Ireland’s south coast…

Read more