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Norwegian Cruise Line to End Its Covid-Testing Requirement



Norwegian Cruise Line


NCLH -9.55%

Holdings Ltd. said it will end its requirement that guests take a Covid-19 test before boarding its cruises unless required by local regulations.

The company said Wednesday that guests will still need to produce a negative Covid-19 test before sailing on a cruise departing from a port where there are local testing regulations, including in the U.S., Canada, Greece and Bermuda.

Norwegian still mandates that passengers 12 and over on its cruises be vaccinated against Covid-19.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that cruise ships operating in U.S. waters participate in its voluntary set of guidelines for cruise ships. Cruise ships that opt into the program are required to follow all recommendations and guidance from the CDC, including a requirement that all crew and passengers be tested for Covid-19 before embarking in the U.S.

Representatives for the CDC didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Currently, all vaccinated guests on a Norwegian cruise departing from a U.S. port must provide proof of a negative antigen test within two days prior to embarking or a negative PCR test within three days. Travelers can also board with proof that they recently recovered after testing positive for Covid-19.

The new policy will go into effect on Aug. 1 and apply across the company’s Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas brands. Norwegian still recommends all guests get tested at their own convenience prior to travel and be up-to-date on vaccinations.

“The relaxation of the testing policy is in line with the rest of the travel, leisure and hospitality industry world-wide as society continues to adapt and return to a state of normalcy,” the company said.

Shares of Norwegian fell more than 6% in morning trading to $11.66 a share, while shares of Carnival Corp.and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. were off nearly 5% and 3%, respectively.

The company spells out its other voluntary safety measures under a program chaired by Dr.

Scott Gottlieb,

a former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,

The move to eliminate the Covid-19 testing requirement comes as the cruise industry is in the midst of a crucial summer season after two years of losses and mounting debt during the pandemic. As summer demand for cruising kicks into high gear, Norwegian and its peers face surging costs including for labor and fuel, uncertain demand outlook in the face of a potential recession and pricing pressure as recently dropped capacity restrictions add urgency to filling ships.

In May, on the company’s first-quarter earnings call, Norwegian Finance Chief Mark Kempa said Covid-19 testing was among the last remaining pandemic-specific costs the company faced.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the scientific understanding of its transmission and prevention has evolved. WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez explains what strategies have worked for stemming the spread of the virus and which are outdated in 2022. Illustration: Adele Morgan

Write to Will Feuer at [email protected]

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Appeared in the July 7, 2022, print edition as ‘Norwegian Cruise Eases Covid Check.’



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