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Carnival Cruise Line To Ease Mask Mandate For Guests From 1 March; Norwegian Cruise Cancels Sailings To Russia, Ukraine Ports

By Dave Simpson

Carnival Cruise Line plans to make masks optional for its guests from March 1 after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eased its warnings for cruise ships, the company has said in a statement.

The company said that masks would be recommended but not required.

"There may, however, be certain venues and events where masks will be required," Carnival said in the statement.

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Carnival also said it plans to be offer more flexibility in pre-cruise testing requirements.

The cruise line, operated by Carnival Corp CCL.N, said children under five will be allowed to sail without any need for vaccine or exemption.

The US CDC eased its warnings for cruise ships by a notch from the highest level two days earlier in response to a decline in onboard COVID-19 cases.

Disney World To Drop Mask Mandate For Vaccinated guests

The easing of Carnival's mask mandate follows similar action from cruise operator Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd NCLH.N and theme park Disney World.

Disney World made masks optional for fully vaccinated guests from Thursday 17 February, an update on its website showed, reversing a policy introduced in mid-2021.

The easing of the mask mandate comes after Universal Orlando Resort and cruise operator Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd NCLH.N also made face coverings optional for their guests.

Disney World in Orlando, Florida, operated by Walt Disney Co DIS.N, said that it expects guests who are not fully vaccinated to wear face coverings in all indoor locations, including theaters.

An update on Disneyland California's website showed masks were required for unvaccinated guests in all indoor locations, while face coverings were optional outdoors.

Disney World and Disneyland both said masks will still be required in certain indoor settings, including transportation.

Many major US firms, including Goldman Sachs GS.N, JPMorgan Chase & Co JPM.N, have also made masks optional for their workers, although President Joe Biden said earlier this month that dropping COVID-19 mask requirements entirely was "probably premature".

Norwegian Cruise Cancels Sailings To Russia, Ukraine Ports

In other cruise-related cruise, the above news was followed by news that Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd NCLH.N has said that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has forced it to alter itineraries and cancel sailings to ports in the countries.

The US cruise line is looking for alternative ports around the Baltic region for its scheduled sailings over the summer. Approximately 5% of its total capacity, or approximately 50 sailings, anchor at the Russian port city of St. Petersburg over the summer season.

"We are currently working to confirm replacement ports and will advise all impacted guests and travel advisors as soon as possible," a company spokesperson said in a statement.

Ukrainian forces battled Russian invaders on three sides on Thursday 24 February after Moscow mounted an assault by land, sea and air in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.

Norwegian Cruise shares were down 2% amid broader market weakness.

"It is disappointing because St. Petersburg is one of the crown jewels of the Scandinavia itineraries. But certainly, there are alternatives," CEO Frank Del Rio said on a post-earnings call.

It was "not a huge impact," company executives said.

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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