Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,
We have good news to share about rapid tests being approved for cruise lines once they reopen for the United States. This is really the silver lining for cruise lovers.
So far, cruise passengers have experienced 3 different approaches:
1- The one we have all heard about has no tests, only temperature checks and passenger screening questions: the most famous case of this was the Hurtigruten cruise line outbreak where many got Covid and they had to cancel all cruises.
2- When testing 72 or 48 hours before a cruise, many found out about their results once they had already sailed out. One cruise line partner of RCL had a passenger who got positive test results for Covid once they were already arriving in Alaska. They had to come back. Once they retested everyone, even the person who got positive results was then negative (false positive) but by then, they had already cancelled all their Alaska season.
3- MSC was checking all passengers before embarking and since the test did not have rapid results, the boarding was taking over 3 hours. Once everyone was on the cruise, all passengers were kept in a bubble, meaning all excursions could only be done by the cruise line. There was one French passenger who tested positive for Covid, and his embarkation was declined, together with his whole family.
Royal Caribbean group, including Celebrity, Silversea and Azamara stated that they very likely will be using the rapid test. Norwegian will be doing the same.
Carnival Group was less explicit about what they will be doing but they are already using rapid tests for Costa Cruises (Italy) and Aida Cruises (Germany).
Virgin will definitely use the rapid tests.
We should keep in mind that rapid tests are never 100% accurate; with a false positive all your group can miss the embarkation, and most Travel Insurance policies do not include missing a trip because of Covid.
I predict that cruises will come back even better than before, and cruise lovers will be able to enjoy life at sea!