(1:47 p.m. EDT) - In a change of policy, Carnival Cruise Lines will now require masks for all passengers, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, in certain areas indoors onboard its ships, as well as mandatory pre-cruise COVID-19 testing.
The onboard mask policy goes into effect for all cruises departing on or after Saturday, Aug. 7, and for departures through Oct. 31, 2021.
The pre-cruise COVID-19 testing requirement for all passengers goes into effect for all cruises departing on Saturday, Aug. 14 through Oct. 31, 2021. Even fully vaccinated guests must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) taken within three days of embarkation.
These tests must be arranged and paid for independently by cruisers. Pierside testing in the terminal will not be available. Passengers will be required to show proof of negative test, plus proof of vaccination against COVID-19, prior to embarkation.
The moves put Carnival Cruise Line more in line with other cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, both of which have mandatory COVID-19 testing requirements for all passengers.
Our Favorite Things Aboard Viking Venus
Regent Seven Seas Splendor Returns to the Seas
Silversea's New S.A.L.T. Program
Wonder of the Seas Construction Update: Sea Trials
Carnival Mardi Gras: Free Dining on the Lido Deck
Carnival Mardi Gras: RedFrog Tiki Bar & Summer Landing
Carnival Mardi Gras' Excel Suite and Loft 19
Live From Carnival's Mardi Gras: The French Quarter
BOLT: We Try Carnival Mardi Gras' Roller Coaster at Sea
NCL's Restart: What It's Like On The First Norwegian Cruise Ship Back in 16 Months
Cruise Critic and JJ Cruise : Our Experience Onboard Celebrity Edge (June 2021)
Here's What It's Like Onboard the First Large Cruise Ship to Alaska in 21 Months
LIVE Q&A: Cruise Critic and Emma Cruises Chat About All Things Cruise
Our Celebrity Silhouette Cruise Experience: March 2020 vs. July 2021
Cruise Executives Wish Cruise Critic a Happy 25th Anniversary
Freedom of the Seas: What's It Like Onboard a Test Cruise? (Cruise Critic & Royal Caribbean Blog
Q&A with Celebrity Cruises' Captain Kate McCue (2021)
Back on Celebrity Silhouette: Here's What It's Like On One Of Our Favorite Ships 15 Months Later
Freedom Of The Seas Resumes Sailing With New Rules
Cruise Critic | EatSleepCruise: What's It Like Onboard Celebrity Edge?
‘Top Chef’ Winner Kristen Kish Joins Holland America Line’s Award-winning Culinary Council
Celebrity Apex -- Video Tour of The Magic Carpet
Q&A: Cruisers and Crew Chat About The Joy of Cruising's Return
Celebrity Apex -- Eden
Celebrity Apex -- The Retreat
Celebrity Apex -- Video Tour of the Infinite Veranda Cabin
Q&A with Celebrity Apex's Cruise Director
Celebrity Apex -- Pools & Resort Deck
Celebrity Apex -- Embarkation Process (2021)
Live From Adventure of the Seas: What's the Same, What's Different and What's Better?
Here's What We Packed For Our Royal Caribbean Cruise (June 2021)
Celebrity to Restart from U.S. Homeport, PLUS Royal Caribbean Given Green Light for Test Cruises!
LIVE From MSC Virtuosa! Embarkation, the Buffet, COVID Protocols and MORE!
CRUISE NEWS Countdown! This Week's Top 5 Stories
NEWS: CDC Loosens Mask Restrictions; Norwegian Reveals NEW Ship Class
NEWS: What Does the Latest CDC Guidance Mean? We Explain, Cruisers & Cruise Lines React
Alaska 2021: Inside Passage Businesses Talk About A Devastating Season Without Cruise Tourists
CRUISE NEWS: Two Brand-New Cruise Ships From Disney And Celebrity Revealed, See Photos!
BREAKING NEWS: CDC Says Cruises From the U.S. Could Start by "Mid-July"
CRUISE NEWS: Two States Sue CDC Over Cruise Restart, New MSC Virtuosa Photos & More
CRUISE NEWS: The CDC Battle Over Cruise Continues!
NEWS: Norwegian Makes HUGE Waves with Restart Plans (Bonus! Live From an Alaska Cruise)
Where Can You Cruise To -- And From -- In Summer 2021?
Odyssey of the Seas -- From Steel Cutting to Delivery 2021
CRUISE NEWS: The CDC's Silence And Where Vaccinated Passengers Can Sail in 2021 -- VIDEO
BONUS NEWS! Royal Caribbean, Celebrity to Resume Cruising in June
BREAKING: A Big Cruise Line Says Guests Need the Jab, Another Announces U.K. Return
NEWS: This Cruise Line is Returning to Cruise SOON!
Odyssey of the Seas' Debut in Israel, and Where Royal Caribbean Might Restart Next
Video Of Odyssey Of The Seas Conveyance March 2021
Cruise Restart, Rising Cruise Prices & The Vaccine's Impact On Bookings (Video)
Exciting Disney Cruise News, More Vaccine Mandates & MSC Seashore Sneak Peek (VIDEO)
Why Lines Aren't Canceling Alaska Cruises, Robot News and More
CDC Mask Mandate, Cruise Vaccine News and Canada's Cruise Ban Through 2022
Cruisers and Cruise Lines Talk Vaccines, Big Azamara News and More
Royal Caribbean Group Sells Popular Cruise Line, Mandatory Vaccines and More
Exciting Cruise News From Carnival Corp., Pause Extensions & More
Exciting New Ships in 2021 - This Week in Cruise News
Rudi Sodamin Makes A Special, Thanksgiving-themed "Food Faces" Video For Cruise Critic
Coin Ceremony For Celebrity Cruises' New Ship, Celebrity Beyond
Cruising In Maine During COVID-19, On the Only Ship Sailing in the U.S.
Former Cruise Ship Captain Offers "Ghost Tours" of Empty Cruise Liners in South England
Variety Cruises' Galileo, The First Eastern Mediterranean Cruise In The COVID Era
Royal Caribbean Group Announces E-muster, Keyless Cabin Check-in And Other App Improvements
Drone Footage Of MSC Grandiosa Docked In Genoa For First Sailing Since The COVID-19 Pandemic
How to Make a Towel Animals Swans, Dogs and Elephants
Towel Animals with Carnival Cruise Line and Cruise Critic: How to Make a Towel Dog
Towel Animals with Carnival Cruise Line and Cruise Critic: How to Make Towel Swans
Towel Animals with Carnival Cruise Line and Cruise Critic: How to Make a Towel Elephant
First Look At Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady
Bolt - Top Deck Roller-Coaster at Sea on Carnival Mardi Gras
Norwegian Encore - Hull Art Reveal - Artist Eduardo Arranz Bravo
Disney Cruise Line Announces Disney Wish
Virgin Voyages Unveils Beach Club And Entertainment
Royal Caribbean Odyssey Of The Seas Steel Cutting At Meyer Werft
Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection To Debut In 2020
Virgin Voyages Reveals Suite Design New Cruise Ship
Celebrity Edge Sneak Peek: Why You Should Be Excited About Celebrity Cruises' Newest Ship
Celebrity Edge Shipyard Hyperlapse Tour
Marella Cruises Cast Members Rehearse New Show Debut
Shipyard Tour: Royal Caribbean’s Symphony Of The Seas Gets Its Finishing Touches -- Video
How To Make Carnival Cruise Line's Famous Warm Chocolate Melting Cake - Video
Shaquille "Shaq" O'neal Named Chief Fun Officer Of Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line's "Choose Fun" Commercial
Live From MSC Seaside: A Cruise Ship Designed For The Outdoors
Carnival Splendor Photo Tour
Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum Of The Seas Celebrates Keel Laying
Carnival Conquest Photo Tour
Carnival Pride Photo Tour
Carnival Dream Photo Tour
Sneak Peak At Symphony Of The Seas
Carnival Sunshine Photo Tour
Carnival Breeze Photo Tour
Spectrum Of The Seas Steel Cutting At Meyer Werft
Photo Tour of Carnival Liberty
5 Best Restaurants for Free Eats on Carnival Sunshine
SkyRide On Carnival Vista: Cruise Critic Tries It
Carnival Vista Top Deck Attractions
Behind the Scenes at CSMART - Carnival's Arison Maritime Training Center
Cruise Pier Runners In Cozumel -- Carnival Liberty
Anthem Of The Seas Welcomes Gigi The Giraffe
Cruise Critic Quick Chat With Carnival CEO Arnold Donald
HRH Prince Phillip Visits Cunard's Fleet
Royal Rendezvous: 3 Cunard Queens Arrive In Southampton
Celebrity Silhouette's Conveyance (2011)
Carnival has been requiring that 95 percent of its passengers be vaccinated. Unvaccinated passengers must apply for an exemption to be among the five percent. Most of the exemptions seem to be given to families with children under 12, who are unable to be vaccinated.
New Policies Designed to Safeguard Passengers
With the rise of the Delta variant in the United States and abroad, Carnival's current policies seem too lax.
On the current sailing of Carnival's newest ship, Mardi Gras, for example, there was no pre-cruise testing of vaccinated guests, and no mask requirements for them (even unvaccinated children have few masking requirements, save in a few areas). The ship is also sailing at two-thirds capacity.
Unlike other cruises we've been on recently, there are no social distancing reminders or seats spaced out. Unmasked crowds have developed at times in elevators, with large crowds gathering when embarking and disembarking in port, and in nightclubs and shows.
Carnival's new requirements aim to change that. After August 7, all passengers age two and older will be required to wear face masks "in elevators and in designated indoor entertainment areas, all retail shops, and in the casino, except when eating or drinking."
Other areas where masks will be required include prior to being seated in main dining rooms and in the Lido Buffet area and "occasionally in other designated areas where larger number of guests may congregate (signs will be posted)."
Masks will also be required at any indoor activity with children under 12 years, such as Build-A-Bear, Family Harbor, and Sky Zone.
In its news release, Carnival noted that similar entertainment venues, including Disney World, Nevada casinos and Broadway, have instituted masking requirements, even for the vaccinated.
"These new requirements are being implemented to protect our guests and crew while on board, and to continue to provide confidence to our homeports and destinations that we are doing our part to support their efforts to protect public health and safety,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.
"We expect these requirements will be temporary and appreciate the cooperation of our guests. Our first month of guest operations has been met with tremendous enthusiasm and very positive guest feedback, and we are committed to continue our restart with both fun and safety in mind.”
Duffy had alluded that there might be changes in a Q and A with Brand Ambassador John Heald onboard Mardi Gras earlier in the week.
Cruise Critic will update this story with more information as it develops.