Norwegian Cruise Line, with a global fleet of 28 ships, said Wednesday that, as of Aug. 1, it would no longer ask passengers to show negative coronavirus tests before boarding — except in countries that require them, a list that includes the United States, Canada, Bermuda and Greece.
Norwegian, as a participant in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s voluntary coronavirus program, asks vaccinated passengers in the United States to show a negative rapid antigen test within two days of their trip, or a negative P.C.R. test within three days of sailing. The C.D.C. then rates participating ships with a color status.
Cruise lines that opt out of the C.D.C. program receive a “gray” color status, meaning that the agency has not reviewed the company’s health and safety protocols.
Most major cruise lines — including Royal Caribbean and Carnival — still require a negative test to board. Only a few have dropped testing requirements, but like Norwegian, the new policies don’t apply to all of their voyages. One of Carnival’s subsidiary lines, Holland America, ended testing requirements last week for certain Amsterdam-to-Norway trips. And last month, the Viking cruise line also nixed universal mandatory testing, but said that “select ocean voyages” in the United States and Canada would still require them, according to a statement on the company’s website.
Norwegian’s announcement comes as the company, like many others, is offering big discounts to recoup business lost during the Omicron surge over the winter, a prime time for cruises, and to fill up unbooked cabins this summer.
Many cruise lines have brought back their full fleets, creating there is a glut of cabins, accompanied by bargain fares. Many deals can cost less than $100 a person a day for a cruise that includes lodging, meals and entertainment.
There are about 600,000 beds in operation, according to Cruise Industry News, a nearly 40 percent increase from the 434,000 beds in service in January.
“The relaxation of the testing policy is in line with the rest of the travel, leisure and hospitality industry worldwide as society continues to adapt and return to a state of normalcy,” the company said in a news release on Monday.
Norwegian is headquartered in Miami, and it has 28 ships under the Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, in addition to Norwegian Cruise Line.