Crystal Cruises will require passengers to have had vaccinations

Crystal Cruises is to require all passengers to be fully inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to their Crystal cruise, the company said late last week.

Crystal, which operates ocean-going holidays and river cruise ships in Europe, said that it believed the vaccine requirement to be the best means of providing added peace of mind for its passengers.  It remained to be seen whether this would be the beginning of a trend amongst cruise line companies.

With vaccines expected to become increasingly available in the countries from where cruise lines draw most of their customer base, there had been growing rumours that vaccination passports would be needed to join cruise ship holidays.

Crystal joins UK-based Saga Cruises in announcing the requirement.

American Queen Steamboat Company and sister brand Victory Cruises, which operate coastal and river cruises in the US, have said that from July 1st they would require holidaymakers on their vessels to be able to show that they had been vaccinated.

With the larger cruise brands tending to cater for a more diverse demographic, vaccination requirements for the mega-cruise ships might be harder to impose. Companies (such as Saga) which target an older and locally based demographic would find the restriction easier to administer.

Crystal said that all guests would need to provide proof of vaccination before embarkation and that they must have received both doses of the vaccine, if recommended by the manufacturer, by that timeline.

Crystal already required negative Covid-19 tests for both guests and crew, temperature checks at the terminal before boarding, the use of face coverings, social distancing guidelines, enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures, and reduced capacity aboard all of its vessels.

Crystal said that it was now targeting its first European river cruises in May 2021. In June it hoped to recommence holidays on two of its ocean cruise ships.

While passengers might be required to be vaccinated, the position when it comes to crew members is less clear. Crystal said that its crew came from dozens of countries around the world. They said that their crew would be expected to be vaccinated when the company resumed sailing, but accepted that this might not be a viable option for all crew members, given their age and/or the availability of vaccines in their home countries.

Saga has said that it was looking into the issue of how crew members could be vaccinated.