At least two major cruise lines have confirmed they will loosen mask requirements for ship passengers.
Royal Caribbean announced that it will be making masks optional for fully vaccinated passengers. Unvaccinated children are "expected" to wear a mask indoors and in crowded environments. The cruise line's Adventure Ocean youth program will require that all children wear masks. The company said no masks will be required for children under 2-years-old. Those changes are set to go into effect for cruises departing the U.S. and Puerto Rico after Feb. 25.
Royal Caribbean also said that masks will be optional at private destinations, but while at public ports of call, guests will need to follow local mask guidelines. Wearing masks will still be expected while boarding at the cruise terminal, and during the screening process and disembarkation.
The cruise line said that masks will not be required in open-air areas of the ship for cruises departing the U.S. and Puerto Rico before Feb. 25.
Carnival announced that it will be participating in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated program for the cruise industry with ships in U.S. waters. Starting March 1, masks will be recommended for passengers onboard Carnival ships, but not required, the cruise line said in a statement. This rule would not apply to "certain venues and events where masks will be required," Carnival said.
Children under 5-years-old will not be required to receive an exemption to sail, regarding vaccination status. Carnival also announced that by March 1 there will be additional flexibility regarding pre-cruise testing requirements.
In mid-February, the CDC updated its COVID-19 risk level for cruise ships moving the risk down from a "Level 4" or "Very High" risk, to a "Level 3" or "High" risk, recommending vaccinations as the "best way" to protect yourself. The CDC also warned cruise passengers that the risk level could change amid an ever-evolving pandemic.