Norwegian Cruise Line is loosening its pandemic-era restrictions next month by no longer requiring face coverings on its ships departing from a U.S. port and allowing unvaccinated children 4 years old and under to board.
Currently, masks must be worn at all times indoors when not eating and outdoors when social distancing is not possible. Those restrictions lift on March 1, as does the cruise line's commitment that 100% of cruise passengers be vaccinated by allowing young children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine to board ships. Crew members will still be required to wear masks.
The announcement marks a shift in the position of Norwegian Cruise Line, which long held that a 100% vaccine mandate is a competitive advantage. Although the line traditionally caters heavily to families, children were not allowed on board until they were vaccinated for Covid-19.
The decision comes as the Covid-19 cases attributed to the omicron variant has receded after a spike in December and January.
Unvaccinated children younger than 5 will be allowed on board, although Norwegian Cruise Line said it will limit the number of those unvaccinated guests to less than 5% of total guest occupancy.
Norwegian Cruise Line will also no longer require guests to take a Covid-19 test at the pier prior to embarkation. Instead, passengers will be required to provide proof of a negative antigen or PCR test administered by a verified third party within two days prior to boarding in a U.S. port or three days if departing from a non-U.S. port. The cruise line will make testing available at the terminal at the guests' expense.