Are Cruises Safe for Fully-Vaccinated Passengers?

A year after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, the world is now better equipped to fight the virus. There are close to 15 vaccines in circulation around the world, and governments are in various stages of vaccine distribution, and reopening. The goal is to vaccinate enough people to achieve worldwide herd immunity. 


But until that happens, traveling to foreign countries comes with some understandable anxiety. Because cruise lines have implemented strict safety protocols including requiring passengers to purchase travel insurance, there’s been renewed interest in cruises among travel enthusiasts, especially Windstar cruises and river cruises. Many cruise lines now require passengers to show proof of Covid vaccination. But does being fully-vaccinated mean you can’t contract Covid aboard a cruise ship? Keep reading to find out.


Chances of Contracting Covid on a Fully-Vaccinated Cruise

The chances of getting infected after being fully vaccinated are low and the odds of being hospitalized or dying from the virus are even lower. But, as Covid variants like Alpha and Delta emerge, there are still risks involved.  It’s clear, though, that getting the Covid vaccine does make the body more resistant to the virus. 


These factors and findings make fully-vaccinated cruises a safe way to take a vacation or travel between countries, provided certain precautions are followed.


Cruise Line Protocols

To ensure that all cruise travels are as safe as possible, certain cruise ships are opening only to  fully-vaccinated passengers from the United States. 


American Cruise Line requires vaccination proof for booking and onboarding. The ships operate at 75% capacity and can also test passengers for Covid. 


Passengers of Celebrity Cruises need to be 18 years and older, with a vaccination shot at least two weeks before boarding. In keeping with the CDC guidelines, Celebrity requires 100% of their crew and 95% of their passengers be fully vaccinated. For those under 18 and older than two, a negative RT-PCR test proof is required. 


Other cruises that allow only vaccinated passengers are Cunard, Grand Circle Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean International.


Cruises like Crystal Cruises, Ponant, Oceania Cruises, and Lindblad Expeditions also require a COVID-19 negative test even after vaccination. The guests need to show a negative COVID-19 PCR or RT-PCR either a week before or 72 hours prior to boarding.


These rules ensure that fully vaccinated passengers make up the vast majority of cruise-goers. It reduces the chances of infection and spread considerably. Cruise ships are also regularly sanitized and all crew members undergo regular testing.


What’s the Ideal Time to Travel after Vaccination?

To be considered fully vaccinated, a specific period of time has to pass after getting the final dose:

  • Moderna requires two shots that need to be administered 4 weeks apart. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second shot.
  • Pfizer-BioNTech requires two shots, three weeks apart. Full vaccination is considered two weeks after the second shot
  • Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen requires only one shot and full vaccination occurs two weeks following the dose.

Experts have given strict guidelines to not miss the recommended 3-week or 4-week intervals between each shot. However, the second dose can also be taken for 6 weeks, if necessary.


Therefore, it’s best to get the vaccine 72 days before departing for the trip. This timeframe  fulfills most of the requirements of cruise ships and gives time to address the symptoms that may appear.


Essential Prerequisites for a Cruise


Most cruise liners will require complete vaccination before onboarding. It is, therefore, best to plan the vaccination cycle 7 to 8 weeks prior to the trip and get vaccinated at least 14 days prior to the trip.

Trip insurance

While getting a vaccine is a shield from the risks of getting infected, trip insurance amplifies the protection by covering any significant expenses. 


Trip insurance is a type of travel insurance that offers coverage for canceling a trip due to unforeseen reasons. Common coverage offered by trip insurance include: 


  • Injury or illness 
  • Natural disaster
  • Jury duty 

To cancel for any reason including fear of travel due to Covid, add a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage to your insurance plan to save you from the financial loss of canceling due to reasons not covered by regular insurance plans. 


While most ships will have medical staff on board or on-call, passengers are recommended to get a cruise insurance plan that covers emergency medical transportation and evacuation. Popular plans such as Safe Cruise cover up to $250,000 for sickness and accident and $1,000,000 for medical emergency evacuation.


Getting insurance also provides a cushion from any non-COVID-19 related health issues and incidents that may happen during the trip. 


The Verdict

Cruises and the entire cruise industry are taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of their passengers and crew. By taking precautions, purchasing travel insurance, and employing safety protocols, a cruise can be a great vacation for any avid travel enthusiast. Happy cruising!




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