No Ship – Negative COVID-19 Test as Essential as a Swimsuit on Your Next Cruise

The Symphony of the Seas cruise ship is shown docked at PortMiami, Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in Miami. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. on Wednesday, reported a first-quarter loss of $1.44 billion, after reporting a profit in the same period a year earlier. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, reported a first-quarter loss of $1.44 billion, after reporting a profit in the same period a year earlier. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Add another great leisure activity to the list of good times that COVID-19 is ruining: going on a cruise. Before you pack for Puerto Vallarta or that long, slow journey to Alaska, make sure you include one more thing in your luggage: a negative COVID-19 test result.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has announced that its 50-plus member cruise lines have agreed to administer COVID-19 tests before guests are allowed to board. Not quite as sexy as a champagne toast to commemorate pushing off from port, but at least this means cruise ships will hopefully be back in business soon.

“CLIA ocean cruise line members worldwide have agreed to conduct 100% testing of passengers and crew on all ships with a capacity to carry 250 or more persons — with a negative test required for any embarkation,” a spokesperson said in a statement shared to social media. “This is a travel industry first and an example of the cruise industry leading the way.”

If you’re saying to yourself, “What the heck is the CLIA?” Well, it almost certainly governs the cruise line you’re considering. Powerhouse cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and MSC are members. It’s not known yet if passengers would be subject to PCR or rapid COVID-19 testing before boarding; either one is a total buzzkill anyway. Also, if you’re planning a cruise, make sure you understand the timeline for testing and proving that you have proof of a negative test before sailing away.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it’s aware of 3,689 reported coronavirus cases and 41 deaths linked to cruises in U.S. waters between March and September of this year. These numbers, however, are likely an undercount, the CDC added.

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