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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 some implementing a stricter stance than others.

Recent US changes have resulted in a number of brands relaxing their rules. Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lowered the COVID-19 level for cruising from "very high" to "high."

What's more, cruise ships participating in CDC's COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships (and sailing in US waters) no longer need to require passengers to wear a face mask onboard - although coverings will still be recommended.

Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean Group - comprising Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea - and Carnival are among the major cruise lines participating in the programme.

This is what you need to know about all cruise lines' current face mask rules.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival has joined the CDC programme so, effective with cruises departing March 1, masks on board will be recommended but not required on US sailings.

"There may, however, be certain venues and events where masks will be required," said the brand.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity states: "Effective for all sailings departing from February 12 onwards, masks will not be required onboard for vaccinated guests unless attending activities in the Theatre or Casino.

"Masks will continue to be required for unvaccinated guests, under 12 years old, at all times indoors except while eating or drinking. This policy will be re-evaluated on a continuous basis."

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Cunard

Cunard states: "Wearing a face mask isn’t required when you’re on deck, exercising, or seated in most areas of the ship.

"We only ask you to wear a face mask (that covers your nose and mouth with no exemptions) in specific areas, such as the terminal, whilst seated in your ship’s theatre, and when moving around your ship indoors.

"We recommend you regularly clean your mask and choose a good quality (ideally medical grade) standard. Please note that visors and face shields aren’t accepted as a substitute for a face mask."

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

Fred. Olsen

Fred. Olsen's mask policy explains: "We do ask all guests 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 bars or lounges."

Holland America Line

Holland America Line says masks are required for the rest of February but states: "Effective with sailings departing March 1, masks are recommended on board but not required.

"However, masks may be required in certain venues and events."

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 indoors, except when seated in restaurants, bars and lounges."

The line added: "Face masks will be available throughout the cruise. We also advise all guests to wear a face mask when travelling to and from the port and in the terminal, in compliance with local regulations."

Norwegian Cruise Line

NCL passengers are not required to wear masks onboard from March 1 when sailing from a US port, in line with CDC programme.

As for cruises from a European port, Norwegian states: "Local government regulations requires all guests to wear masks onboard while indoors except for when actively eating or drinking or when in their stateroom.

"Guests will be required to wear masks outdoors when social distancing is not possible."

- 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: "Mask wearing isn’t needed when you’re out on deck, exercising or seated in most areas around the ship.

"We just ask you to wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth (with no exemptions) in specific areas including the terminal, when moving around indoors on board and when seated in the theatre.

"And we’d always recommend you regularly clean your masks and choose a good quality, ideally medical grade, standard. Please note that visors and face shields aren’t accepted as a substitute for a face mask."

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

Princess Cruises

Reflecting the changing CDC rules, Princess states regarding US voyages: "Effective with cruises departing March 1, masks on board will be recommended but not required. There may, however, be certain venues and events where masks will be required."

As for sailings from non-US ports, Princess explains: "We’re working with government authorities on protocols and will share final details before you sail – stay tuned!"

Current protocol dictates: "To protect everyone on board, all guests must wear face masks covering their nose and mouth while indoors at all times and outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

"Exceptions are made while guests are eating or drinking, receiving spa treatments relating to the face, during high-intensity exercise, in pools, whirlpools or sauna, as well as in their stateroom.

"We always recommend you wash or replace your mask daily and choose a good quality mask. Health experts recommend the use of higher-grade masks while indoors such as surgical or KN95. Please note that we will not accept visor face shields as substitutes for a face mask.

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

Royal Caribbean

For Royal Caribbean sailings departing the U.S. and Puerto Rico on or after February 25, 2022: "Masks are optional for fully vaccinated guests. We expect unvaccinated children to continue wearing masks indoors and in crowded settings.

"Masks are required for all children while at the Adventure Ocean youth program. Guests under two do not have to wear a mask at any time."

As for elsewhere in the world, the line says: "At this time, we have not yet determined our health and safety protocols for 2022 sailings departing from Europe. Guests will be advised of specific requirements via email before setting sail." European cruises are set to start in the Spring.

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Viking Cruises

Viking explains: "Face masks are required for all guests and crew members when moving around the ship.

"We will provide complimentary approved masks in your stateroom upon arrival. Face masks may be removed while you are in your stateroom or veranda and when eating or drinking."

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

Virgin Voyages

Virgin states: "Masks are required for the test site, terminal, and while on shuttle services. And based on the latest developments and the CDC’s recommendations, until February 27, we are requiring Sailors wear masks indoors except while eating and drinking.

"After that date, we aim to return to a full maskless experience on board. Our Crew will be wearing them as well at all times.

"We’ll also provide masks in cabins or on request to any Sailor who may need or want one. While off the ship at each port, we’ll be following local government guidelines as it pertains to mask-wearing and we ask that our Sailors adhere to their local mandates."

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.

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