A pair of U.S. cruise lines will now require a vaccine to board, becoming the latest cruise companies to make the jab mandatory.
Starting July 1, the American Queen Steamboat Company and its sister company Victory Cruise Lines will require all guests and crew to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for all sailings, the companies announced on their websites.
"The health and safety of our guests, crew members and partners continues to remain our top priority," John Waggoner, the CEO and founder of American Queen Steamboat Company, told Cruise Critic. "Vaccination requirement for both our guests and crew is the most prudent next step to ensure that we are providing the safest cruising experience possible. Our new vaccination requirement, coupled with comprehensive health and safety protocols and risk-free booking policy, will give our loyal guests another added level of assurance to join us as we return to sailing."
Victory Cruise Lines is known for cruises along the Great Lakes and as far as Alaska and Mexico, while the American Queen Steamboat Company sails up and down several iconic rivers, including the Mississippi River.
In addition to the vaccine, both cruise lines will require guests to get a COVID-19 test prior to embarking, wear masks on board, and undergo temperature checks. The ships have also implemented several safety measures, including using electrostatic fogging to disinfect public spaces twice each day and adding UV-C light to all main air handlers.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented a rule requiring mask-wearing on all forms of public transportation, including on ships and in ports, following President Joe Biden's federal mask mandate.
The cruise lines join Saga Cruises, a company catering to passengers 50 and older, which said last month it would require all guests to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before boarding.
While the vaccine rollout remains slow, the concept of vaccine passports has been gaining traction and several countries, including the Seychelles and Romania, are welcoming fully vaccinated travelers.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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