(Updated 11:40 a.m. EST) -- Three of the cruise industry's largest lines -- Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian -- will begin requiring all passengers to wear masks indoors unless actively eating or drinking as an additional safeguard against the new omicron variant of COVID-19.
In an update to booked passengers, Royal Caribbean revealed Friday it would begin requiring all passengers, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks indoors on all sailings now through January 5, 2022.
"We feel it prudent to temporarily add measures and require masks indoors at all times, unless actively eating or drinking," a Royal Caribbean spokesperson told Cruise Critic. "This new update also applies to vaccinated areas and venues. Guests booked on these sailings are being reached out to and made aware of the change."
Previously, Royal Caribbean had allowed fully vaccinated passengers to go maskless in designated areas. The line currently requires all passengers over the age of 12 to present proof of vaccination as a condition of sailing.
Carnival Cruise Line revealed Saturday it would require the use of masks for passengers on all salings up at least the end of January 2022.
Norwegian Cruise Line, which has operated only fully vaccinated cruises since it resumed operations in the summer, had touted its mask-free onboard policy, guided by its strong vaccination mandate.
But this week, the line, too, emailed passengers to state it would now require all guests to mask indoors when not actively eating or drinking.
"We are asking guests to wear masks onboard while indoors, except when actively eating or drinking or when in their stateroom; wear masks outdoors when social distancing is not possible; and adhere to local regulations when visiting ports of call," Norwegian stated in an email to booked passengers.
Perhaps predictably, news of the new mask mandate was going over well or poorly with booked passengers, depending on their personal masking preferences.
"Agree that the ability to be maskless is what made NCL more attractive," writes kfnesq. "We cruised RC in October and masks were required--it wasn't awful but definitely detracts from the experience."
"As long as I can still cruise, I'll happily abide this requirement, as I do voluntarily in everyday life," writes Travelicious.
Additionally, a number of lines have begun to ban smoking in onboard casinos due to the new omicron variant.
More to come as new information develops.