During the pandemic, cruise lines have imposed several restrictions to avoid the virus spreading onboard. As cases decreased and vaccination rates rose, major companies decided to relax the rules. P&O Cruises is the latest company to announce its guests are no longer required to be fully vaccinated or present a negative Covid-19 test before boarding.
Customers received a message on Monday, 27 February, informing them that “as health protocols for Covid-19 continue to evolve around the world”, the cruise line made an important update to its pre-cruise vaccination and testing requirements to share with its passengers.
As of this week, Covid-19 vaccination and testing are no longer mandatory for guests travelling on P&O Cruises holidays, with the exception of those booked on cruise J301. Nevertheless, while vaccination is no longer mandatory, the cruise line still “highly recommends” to all of the guests travelling on its ships to keep up-to-date with Covid-19 vaccinations and boosters when eligible and where available.
Passengers who display symptoms or generally feel unwell in the days leading up to their holiday are also urged to take a Covid-19 test before they travel and only continue with their plans if the test is negative. On the day of embarkation, passengers are asked to tell terminal or check-in staff if they present any symptoms.
Before this week, all guests were asked to be fully vaccinated and have at least one booster dose administered a minimum of 14 days before travelling. Additionally, passengers had to take either a lateral flow or rapid antigen test within 24 hours before embarkation or a PCR test within 48 hours before embarkation. Only travellers with proof of negative test results were allowed aboard.
The only ship on P&O’s portfolio that still applies these rules is cruise number J301, comprising Arcadia’s World Cruise, Classic Southern Hemisphere Journeys or Exotic fly-cruises.
After years of uncertainty, the cruise industry is expected to make a strong comeback in 2023, having suffered significant financial losses over the past few years due to Covid-19. “Cruise lines have undertaken extensive measures to promote health and safety onboard, so you can expect attention to detail and cleanliness. In the case of unexpected illness, they have protocols in place to isolate passengers as they recuperate”, Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of Travel at AAA commented on cruise lines scrapping vaccination requirements.