Norwegian Cruise Line drops all COVID-19 mask, vaccine and testing rules

Norwegian Cruise Line will further ease its COVID-19 rules, dropping all mask, vaccination, and testing requirements starting Tuesday.

Passengers will no longer need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result to board, though the changes are subject to local requirements at various destinations. The cruise line previously began welcoming all guests regardless of vaccination status on Sept. 3, but unvaccinated passengers had to take a test prior to embarkation.

"Health and safety are always our first priority; in fact, we were the health and safety leaders from the very start of the pandemic," Norwegian president and CEO, Harry Sommer, said in a news release. "Many travelers have been patiently waiting to take their long-awaited vacation at sea and we cannot wait to celebrate their return."

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Norwegian still has other pandemic protocols on board related to measures such as sanitation and medical services.

"Comprehensive enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols, using EPA approved disinfectants, have been implemented throughout the cruise experience," the line said on its website.

Other steps include the installation of medical-grade air filters, and increased medical "staffing relative to capacity," the line said.

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The change comes as major cruise lines, including Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, and Holland America Line, have dropped vaccine requirements for many sailings in recent weeks.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ended its COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships on July 18, after which many cruise lines that had opted in eased their protocols. The agency currently recommends cruise passengers be up to date with their vaccinations – including their most recent recommended booster dose – and take a test a maximum of three days before embarkation no matter their vaccination status, according to its website.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Norwegian Cruise Line drops all vaccine, testing requirements and more