In an abundance of caution in response to recent cases reported onboard cruise ships, Carnival Cruise Line has reintroduced mandatory mask wearing policies for the cruise line’s sailings in Australia.
Masks will now be required in all indoor public spaces or in any crowded venue, indoors or outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. It must be noted that at this time, this policy only impacts Carnival cruises in Australia, and masks are not required on any Carnival ships in other regions.
Masks Now Required Onboard
Carnival Cruise Line updated its Have Fun. Be Safe protocols for Australia sailings on November 17, 2022, reintroducing mandatory mask wearing.
The policy now reads, “out of an abundance of caution, for the time being, masks are required in public indoor spaces.”
Those indoor spaces include all lounges, corridors, elevators, theaters, casinos, and other spaces, unless guests are eating or drinking. Guests do not need to wear masks in their staterooms.
Masks are also now required in outdoors for any large crowded events where guests cannot appropriately distance, such as during deck parties, as well as while on shore tour buses or tenders, or while indoors on any shore excursion. Guests must also wear masks during the entire embarkation and debarkation processes.
The reintroduced policy is effective immediately, and there is no announced end date for when it may be relaxed. Because the policy reads “for the time being” it is likely a temporary measure and will be redacted when possible.
Carnival Cruise Line and local health authorities will continue to monitor local COVID-19 case levels and will make appropriate adjustments to the policy, as well as to other onboard protocols, to safeguard cruise guests, crew members, and port communities.
Which Carnival Cruise Ships?
Because this policy only impacts sailings in Australia, only two Carnival ships are currently affected: Carnival Splendor and Carnival Luminosa.
The Concordia-class Carnival Splendor, with a guest capacity of 3,012, is offering both short and long cruises from Sydney, including ports of call such as Tasmania, New Zealand, and Queensland, as well as short getaways to nowhere.
The new-to-the-fleet Spirit-class Carnival Luminosa can welcome 2,260 guests, and is offering a range of South Pacific, New Zealand, and Great Barrier Reef itineraries from Brisbane.
Cases Rise in Australia
Australia has been one of the more strict regions of the world with respect to pandemic cruise travel restrictions. While cruising restarted in other regions in mid-2021, Australia only reopened for cruises in mid-2022.
Carnival Cruise Line only restarted Australia guest operations in the past several weeks, first with Carnival Splendor setting sail on October 1, followed by Carnival Luminosa’s first sailing on November 6.
Other cruise lines have also slowly restarted operations in Australia, including Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises, and Royal Caribbean International.
Since the Australian restart, however, several ships have reported large numbers of COVID-19 cases, including cases among both guests and crew members.
For example, approximately 100 cases were reported onboard Coral Princess in early July during one of the first restart cruises, while more recently, local news services have reported more than 800 cases aboard Majestic Princess.
It must be noted, however, that there have been no reports of cases reported from cruise ships having severe symptoms or requiring hospitalization, with most individuals who return positive test results reporting no symptoms or only mild discomfort.
According to the Australian government’s Department of Health and Aged Care, the country is experiencing a slight uptick in overall cases compared to previous months, with more than 54,000 new cases reported in the past week.
Other Cruise Lines
As of November 17, 2022, Princess Cruise Lines has also reinstituted mandatory masks onboard for Australia and New Zealand sailings, stating that “masking requirements may change at any time, so we ask for flexibility from our guests.“
Similarly, Royal Caribbean International also states that “all guests should wear a mask while travelling through the terminal and in public indoor spaces or crowded outdoor spaces onboard” and that “protocols are subject to change.”
Prospective guests of any cruise lines with upcoming sailings in Australia should stay in close contact with their cruise line for health and safety protocol updates and requirements.
Furthermore, all cruise travelers should be aware that any cruise line has the authority to update protocols in any region, for any sailing, at any time, should it be deemed necessary for public health and safety and the health and safety of those aboard a ship.