Last Updated: October 25, 2021. For the latest updates, visit our Healthy at Sea page.
Cruising is back. It’s a little different, but in many ways, a luxury vacation at sea is now better than ever.
The last 18 months or so has changed the way we live and travel, but with a whole range of new health and safety protocols in place, we’re ready to welcome you back. You’ll find extra safety precautions on board and ashore, but the same world-class service our guests have always enjoyed.
Here are a few pointers to consider when you’re planning your return to cruising. We hope these will give you the confidence to sail with us again in the knowledge that you’re in an environment in which your health and safety are of the utmost importance.
Vaccinations and Tests
If you’re eligible, you must be vaccinated in order to sail with Celebrity Cruises, with your final dose administered at least 14 days prior to sailing.
You’ll need to take some tests before embarkation, too. All vaccinated guests 12 years and older must present a negative COVID-19 test certificate taken within two days of embarkation. This can be an antigen or PCR test—and this one is your responsibility to arrange before you travel using an approved supplier.
Children aged two upwards will need to take a PCR test no more than three days before travel, as well as an additional PCR test at the terminal. Unvaccinated guests under 12 years of age will also need to take an antigen test at the end of the cruise.
The CDC has advised unvaccinated guests cannot be tested twice in one day as it may affect the accuracy of the test results, therefore the COVID-19 test required before arriving at the terminal cannot be taken on boarding day.
If you need a further test to re-enter your home country, this will be conducted on board, at no expense to you.
What to Expect at the Port
It’s more important than ever to make sure you’re organized. While travel takes a little more planning than it once did, if you take time before you leave home to prepare all your documentation, you’ll breeze through check-in.
By far the best way to do this is to download the Celebrity Cruises app, available for Apple and Android devices. If you’ve cruised with us before, you’ll notice new features on the app, including the online Guest Safety Briefing and our new Guest Health, Safety, and Conduct Policy. You can, of course, check-in via the app.
The Guest Health Questionnaire is also on the app, and we ask our guests to complete this within 24 hours of sailing; you’ll be asked to show it at the cruise terminal. Other features on the app allow you to upload your vaccination card, book dining and events on board, chat to fellow guests and find your way around the ship. If you don’t have a smartphone, our staff will, of course, assist you with check-in.
How do you check in? On the app is the fastest and most convenient way, and the time you can check in has been extended until 8 a.m. on the morning of departure. You can also check in via the Celebrity Cruises website up to 45 days before sailing.
You’ll be given a time window in which to arrive at the port. It’s important to observe this to make the whole embarkation process smoother. Your app will generate your Xpress Pass, and when you arrive at the port, you simply present your proof of vaccination and your health questionnaire. Children aged between two and 11 who have not been vaccinated will be tested at this time, too, with a short wait for the result.
You then show your Xpress Pass to a check-in agent who will scan it and clear you for embarkation. After the usual security checks, you’ll be well on your way to settling into your luxurious stateroom, or heading to your favorite bar for sailaway cocktails as your dream vacation begins.
The Safety Drill Is Different—and Better
The Guest Safety Briefing is essential to your safety on board, and it’s mandatory to go through this process. If you’ve sailed before, you will notice that the whole process has now been streamlined, for your convenience.
There’s no more group muster on Celebrity Cruises ships. Instead, you can view the Guest Safety Briefing via your app; simply tap the icon on the homepage. It will also be playing on your stateroom TV when you arrive on board.
Once you’ve viewed the video, you simply head to your assigned Assembly Station. Our crew members will be there to greet you, make sure you’ve understood the briefing, and scan your cruise card to confirm that you’ve attended. And then you’re done.
Our Enhanced Sanitization Measures
You can rest assured that each Celebrity Cruises ship is equipped with a state-of-the-art HVAC system—medical-grade air conditioning—that supplies 100 percent fresh, filtered air to all spaces. This system is so technologically advanced that it makes the likelihood of transmission of aerosol particles between spaces extremely low. In fact, it’s virtually impossible.
If you’re interested in the technical details, the air in your stateroom will be completely changed some 12 times per hour, and the air in public areas 15 times per hour using this powerful technology.
You’ll notice the crew constantly cleaning and sanitizing the ship. This will have already taken place before you embark, but the work continues during your voyage. We use disinfecting cleaning agents and techniques that have been certified by health authorities as effective against viruses, including coronavirus.
We only use chemicals that are EPA-certified, alcohol-based, scentless, and safe. You can rest assured that frequently touched areas like elevators, escalators, and stairways are being cleaned every two hours. Our crew cleans the gangway rails with even greater frequency.
Your stateroom attendant will clean your room thoroughly once you’ve headed to breakfast, or gone ashore. Our crew undergo ongoing training to make sure the protocols are being followed, and cabin inspections are carried out to make sure surfaces are being properly wiped.
What to Expect Around the Ship
There is no shortage of hand sanitizer on a Celebrity Cruises ship, and you’ll be encouraged to use some at every opportunity. Fully vaccinated guests don’t need to wear a mask while moving around the vessel, although many destinations will ask you to wear one ashore when going inside venues. You will find a rather chic Celebrity Cruises fabric mask as a welcome in your stateroom, as well as a bottle of hand sanitizer.
Of course, we encourage our guests to bring their own masks from home as well, as you will need a fresh supply. Further cloth masks are available to buy in the onboard shops.
You may see signage around the ship that you’re not used to. We encourage physical distancing, and you may find some seating in bars and theaters is spread out to facilitate this. There’s a limit to just four people in an elevator, too. If anything, these measures create a sense of space—and a more luxurious feel.
We have also increased our use of digital signage around the ship to minimize the use of printed material. You will be able to view the ship’s daily program on your app or TV screen, but rest assured, your stateroom attendant will still deliver your paper copy of Celebrity Today at turndown every night.
Our crew will be delighted to welcome you on board. You’ll notice that handshaking, for now, is not encouraged. A fist bump, elbow bump, or simply a smile is just as meaningful!
Read: What Are Cruises Like?
How Dining Has Changed
Your dining experience on any Celebrity Cruises ship will be as exciting and delicious as ever. There are a few small changes, though. While we are continually examining our protocols, for now, a maximum of eight can dine together at one table, and you can only share a table with members of your traveling party.
Using the Celebrity Cruises app to make reservations will ensure you get the venue and time you want, whether you’re indulging in fine French cuisine in Murano or looking forward to a juicy steak in the Tuscan Grille.
You’ll find a QR code on each table whenever you sit down in a restaurant or bar. Scan this with your smartphone and the menu will pop up immediately. If you’re not a smartphone user, or if you simply prefer a paper menu, just ask your server. Paper menus are disposed of responsibly after a single use. Menus are available on the Celebrity Cruises app, too.
What to Expect Ashore
Possibly the single biggest thing to bear in mind as the world continues to adapt to this “new normal” is that situations change quickly. Destinations have their own rules, and you will enjoy your travels more if you keep an open mind.
We are constantly monitoring the local rules in the destinations in which we sail and will keep our guests informed about the situation ashore as much as we can. Please be aware, though, that local protocols can change fast, and we’re always doing our best to stay on top of these fluid situations.
Wherever possible, vaccinated guests may go ashore independently, if the local regulations permit. So you’ll still be able to linger over your morning cappuccino on some gorgeous piazza in Rome, or head off to your favorite Caribbean beach.
It may be necessary in some destinations to go ashore in a “bubble” on a carefully curated excursion. These extend the high levels of health protocols that you’ll find on board.
For example, tour buses will have reduced capacity. You’ll be encouraged to use hand sanitizer every time you board the bus, and wear a mask while seated on the bus. Guides and all other suppliers are carefully vetted to make sure their values are in line with our own.
On-Your-Own tours—whereby transportation to and from the ship is provided but you’re free to explore as you please—are available where local rules permit. Small Group Discoveries are perfect if you’re traveling in a family “bubble”, where permitted, as well as Private Journeys.
Please note, though, families traveling with unvaccinated children may only go ashore on an official Celebrity Cruises excursion.
It’s always a good idea to carry your vaccination certificate with you ashore. There are different protocols in place around the world, but you may be asked to show proof of vaccination to enter a restaurant, or a museum, just as the locals do.
Each Country Has Different Policies
As the world opens up again, communities emerge with different attitudes towards COVID, and different memories of the pandemic. Some countries have been through a long, tough lockdown, and you may notice a more cautious approach to, say, wearing masks.
In some European countries, you’ll be required to show your vaccination certificate and ID (passport or driver’s license) to enter venues like churches and museums. The rules change all the time, so check what’s required before you leave home. It’s always a good idea to carry a spare copy of your vaccination card or certificate when going ashore, in any case.
So if somebody asks you politely to move your sunlounger a little further away on a beach, or to keep your distance during the check-in line at the airport, don’t be offended. They’re not being unwelcoming, just exercising more caution than any of us would have considered pre-pandemic.
Preparing to Go Home
All good things come to an end, including, sadly, your luxury cruise vacation. Make sure you know what’s expected of you to return to your home country.
There may be a passenger locator form to complete, or you may be expected to take a “fit to travel” test, usually an antigen test. These are provided on a complimentary basis on board. Unvaccinated children under the age of 12 will also need to take an antigen test before leaving the ship.
Double-check whether you need to quarantine or take a test when you get home. Every country has different rules, and these rules may vary depending on where you have visited during your vacation. Of course, if you need help filling in any forms, our crew will be on hand to assist.
Ready to join us once more on a luxury cruise? Browse our itineraries to find inspiration for your next journey. We’re ready to welcome you and we can’t wait to have you back on board.