(12:05 p.m. EDT) -- Carnival Cruise Line has outlined its COVID-19 health and safety protocols for its return to the seas, with new measures designed specifically for passengers on the line's upcoming Alaska sailings.
Carnival's new, "Have Fun, Be Safe" health and safety protocol updates were rolled out this week, detailing policies and procedures across the fleet. The protocols also demonstrate that cruise lines can implement a two-tier system of requirements, depending on vaccination requirements.
Carnival Miracle sailings to Alaska have a vaccine requirement, but Carnival is not currently requiring passengers on other ships and destinations to do so. A full list of lines requiring vaccinations can be found here.
Here is a rundown of the new protocols:
For the Majority of the Fleet: Masks, Social Distancing, Testing
Physical distancing, masking, and shore excursion "bubbles" will be required for passengers sailing aboard the majority of Carnival Cruise Line's fleet.
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Vaccination against COVID-19 will not be required, however Carnival will mandate full contact tracing for passengers onboard. Passengers will undergo health screenings at embarkation, COVID-19 PCR testing, temperature checks and will be required to answer a health questionnaire.
Anyone showing signs or symptoms of COVID-19 may be denied boarding. Secondary screenings and health checks will be performed throughout the voyage. Self-service meal options will not be available; buffets will be served by the ship's crew to passengers.
Masks are to be worn onboard, on shore excursions, and on visits to private islands. Masks must always be worn while in cruise terminals, and at embarkation and disembarkation.
This guidance will apply even to those passengers who have been fully vaccinated, as the majority of Carnival's fleet will be carrying a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers.
Miracle Relaxes Some Restrictions, Requires Full Vaccination
Unlike the rest of the fleet, Carnival has stated that its 2021 Alaska sailings aboard Carnival Miracle will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
Passengers must present proof of full immunization against COVID-19 for all 2021 Carnival Miracle departures to Alaska. Carnival stipulates that "full" immunization means a total of at least 14 days have elapsed between the final shot and embarkation.
All passengers who are age-eligible for vaccinations must be fully vaccinated. Those passengers who are not vaccinated or who are not age-eligible for vaccination will not be allowed to sail on Carnival Miracle's Alaska itineraries this year.
Aboard Carnival Miracle, face masks may not be required onboard or ashore as dictated by CDC officials. Carnival notes passengers should still come prepared to wear masks but adds that " protocols are evolving and as changes are announced, we will share more information as soon as possible."
That's good news for those who would rather not wear a mask, and who would like to participate in independent exploration ashore. Because Carnival Miracle passengers will be fully vaccinated, there will not be a requirement for passengers to participate in organized shore excursions.
At the moment, only Carnival's 2021 Alaska cruises require proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Sailings set to depart in 2022 are unaffected.
Protocols Subject to Change
In all instances, Carnival notes its health and safety protocols are subject to change based on guidance from the CDC and local authorities.
Passengers may be wise, then, to come prepared for any scenario, and remain flexible throughout their cruise. It is also a good idea to continue to check Carnival's website for further updates to these policies or ask a travel advisor for the latest information.