NCL-Norwegian Cruise Line, which had taken the most conservative approach to passenger COVID safety of any cruise line, is now rolling back its onboard mask policy as well as part of its vaccination policy.
Beginning March 1, NCL will allow unvaccinated kids younger than 5 to sail on its cruise ships. Previously, the company required 100% vaccination and was the only major line to do so, thus preventing anyone who was not fully inoculated from boarding. Because COVID vaccines still are not available to the youngest cruise passengers, they were effectively banned from sailing with NCL.
Under the amended rule, the only unvaccinated guests allowed will be kids younger than 5 years old. Per the U.S. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) now-optional rules for liners, the number of cruisers in the group will be limited.
NCL’s parent company went so far as to sue in July last year after Governor Ron DeSantis issued a mandate preventing Florida-based businesses from requiring clients to be vaccinated. The court ruled in favor of the lines, which allowed NCL to proceed with the plans to maintain the 100%-immunized onboard environment.
NCL will also scrap its mandatory mask policy on March 1, 2022. Although the website of the line strongly encourages wearing masks in crowded indoor areas, it won't be longer a requirement.
The NCL website says:
“Face coverings are not required while onboard. However, we recognize the added protections provided when wearing a mask covering and recommend that all guests do so onboard when indoors, except when actively eating or drinking, or seated at a table in a dining setting, or when in their stateroom. … The decision to wear a mask covering when onboard is at the discretion of each guest.”
However, masks will be required indoors and in crowded outdoor areas on European sailings due to local laws.