Carnival Cruises will be relaxing its mask rules.
A release from the company indicated masks will be recommended but not required on board from sailings departing on and after March 1.
“We have had a very successful restart of guest operations thanks to the support of our guests, the commitment of our shipboard team, and the effective protocols we have put in place,” Carnival’s president, Christine Duffy, said in a statement.
Masks on board cruise ships have been an ongoing topic since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
In August 2021, Carnival mandated mask-wearing in many indoor areas of their ships following a “small number” of confirmed Covid cases on board the Carnival Vista, which departed from Galveston, Texas.
Another of the company’s ships, the Carnival Freedom, was denied entry to two Caribbean island ports in December after a few passengers tested positive for Covid-19.
At the time, Carnival confirmed “a small number” of people on board were isolating due to the positive case. The Carnival Freedom was eventually permitted to dock in Amber Cove cruise terminal in the Dominican Republic.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) moved cruises from the “very high risk” category (Level Four) to “high risk” (Level Three).
Under the designation, passengers are advised to “make sure you are up-to-date with your Covid-19 vaccines before cruise ship travel.”
The Carnival Corporation owns several major cruise lines, including Princess, Holland America, Cunard and Seabourn, which comprise about half the world’s total number of cruises.
According to the company, 13 million passengers sail on board a Carnival-owned ship in a typical year.
Other cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, have also recently modified their mask rules for sailings originating from US ports.
Royal Caribbean is making masks optional for vaccinated guests for voyages departing on or after February 25. “We expect unvaccinated children to continue wearing masks indoors and in crowded settings,” the cruise line said on its website.
Earlier in February, Royal Caribbean eased mask rules in vaccinated-only zones that were tightened with the Omicron surge.
Effective March 1, masks are not required aboard Norwegian Cruise Line voyages departing from US ports.
However, Norwegian still recommends that guests wear masks in indoor public spaces, except when actively eating or drinking or seated at a dining table, and outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible.
Masking rules for voyages departing Europe are different and informed by local rules and restrictions.
People watch as the Carnival Liberty cruise ship departs from Port Canaveral.