Norwegian Cruise Line extends 100% COVID vaccination requirement through end of year
Norwegian Cruise Line has extended its vaccine requirement through the end of the year, the cruise line announced Wednesday.
The extension comes as the COVID-19 delta variant continues to surge.
“Under the guidance of globally recognized public health experts and to prioritize the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit, we have decided to extend guest vaccination requirements for all sailings through December 31, 2021," Norwegian Cruise Line said in a statement provided by Christine Da Silva, vice president of communication and events for Norwegian Cruise Line.
Passengers who are not old enough to be vaccinated will not be allowed to sail.
"However, we eagerly await an expansion of the age criteria for vaccinations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration so we can once again welcome these guests back on board," the cruise line continued. Vaccines are not yet available to children under 12.
The cruise company originally announced in April that it would require 100% of passengers and crew members to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before boarding.
"That one-two punch is ironclad," Frank Del Rio, the company's president and CEO, told USA TODAY at the time, pointing to the new vaccination requirement and health and safety protocols the company has implemented. "No one can argue that being on a cruise ship under those conditions is not the safest place on Earth."
Norwegian Cruise Line's vaccine requirement was originally scheduled to end on Oct. 31. Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which are also owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., have the same 100% vaccination requirement in place, but an expiration date was not set as it was for the flagship line.
Though COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective, they’re not 100% effective in preventing infection. A small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated will still get COVID-19 if they're exposed to the virus that causes it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, vaccinated people who have breakthrough infections are much less likely to get severely sick or die.
Norwegian has stuck to vaccine requirement, even in Florida
Earlier this month, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. was granted a preliminary injunction by U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams, temporarily blocking Florida's law that bans cruise companies from asking for proof of a COVID-19 vaccine to board.
The company filed a lawsuit against the state last month. The lawsuit challenged the state’s “vaccine passport” ban, which was signed into law in May by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.