Cunard, Lindblad, Ponant and Windstar eliminate COVID vaccination/testing requirements

   March 21, 2023 ,   Cruise Industry

Several ocean cruise lines that retained their COVID vaccination/pre-boarding testing policies are ready to eliminate them.

Windstar Cruises, Ponant, Cunard Line, and Lindblad Expeditions plan to eliminate/curtail their vaccination/testing requirements in the coming months except when operating to destinations with COVID restrictions. 

Windstar will scrap its vaccine requirement on June 1st. The decision and timing for the line were influenced by the U.S. government's plan to end the declared Public Health Emergency for COVID on May 11th. 

Ponant also plans to drop its COVID vaccination requirements. The policy change goes into effect on April 1st.

Lindblad is re-evaluating its protocols ahead of the federal emergency's expiration. The line requires passengers to be vaccinated but will change its protocols in May.

However, ships that sail to destinations with COVID restrictions have to adhere to local policies which means passengers would likely be required to test/be vaccinated on world cruises and other complicated itineraries. Some voyages have additional testing requirements based on the length, the ports of call, the country requirements, or the onward destination. 

For instance, Queen Elizabeth will soon sail to Japan, which requires passengers to undergo testing before embarkation and all guests aged 18+ to be vaccinated/boosted. 

In contrast, a voyage on Cunard's RMS Queen Mary 2 from Australia to NYC New York USA via Cape Town South Africa and Southampton UK will require a pre-boarding test.

Cunard intends to drop COVID vaccination requirements for passengers on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria beginning April 23rd and on Cunard's MS Queen Elizabeth on June 8th, unless a specific country/voyage requires vaccination. 

Other companies appear to remain dedicated to a COVID vaccination/testing policy. For example, Viking OCEAN requires all passengers to be vaccinated, while Aurora Expeditions requires both vaccinations with booster/preboard testing.