A leading cruise company has announced it will no longer be requiring passengers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or to wear facemasks while onboard effective October 4.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has also eliminated all other sanitary protocols in place since the outbreak of the pandemic and the gradual return of international traveling.
In light of the significant progress, NCL's new guidelines are now more in line with other global travel organizations, according to a statement from the company.
Health and safety are always our first priority; in fact, we were the leaders in health and safety from the beginning of the pandemic, said Harry Sommer, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, which has a fleet of 18 cruise ships.
Many travelers have been patiently waiting to take their long-awaited vacation at sea and we can't wait to celebrate their return, he added.
However, NCL will continue to follow travel guidelines as required by each port of destination, the company also pointed out.
The cruise industry was hit hard by the pandemic. In the United States, fleets were paralyzed for over a year, and then they had to adopt strict anti-contagion measures. Revenues went down 59 % in 2020 from 2019 but still reached US$ 63.4 billion. With a total of 5.8 million travelers, it still meant an 81% drop from pre-pandemic times, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
Starting this 2022/23 season NCL will also offer a service linking Europe with South America, from Lisbon to Buenos Aires, with an option to board the ship in Rio de Janeiro in December, with stops at Buzios, Ilha Grande, Santos (Brazil) and Punta del Este (Uruguay). The return trip will be available from Buenos Aires to Rio and on to Barcelona. Meanwhile, there will be two Patagonia & Chilean Fjords departures in December and January, from Buenos Aires to San Antonio, Chile, for 14 days (round trip). NCL will also make four trips to Antarctica departing from and returning to Buenos Aires.