Do the latest COVID-19 testing laws fit cruisers?

 As before, cruisers will be exempt from testing if they arrive in the United States by ship. 

The new law, which takes effect Monday, December 6, applies only to travelers flying to the United States. In addition to travelers arriving by ship, travelers by car and other means of transport at border crossings with Canada and Mexico will also be exempt from this rule.    

To receive news, reviews, and cruise tips, subscribe to the TPG cruise newsletter. This means that some but not all cruisers will not be affected by the changes in the testing rules. How does the COVID-19 test rule change? Beginning Monday, December 6, all travelers flying to the United States from another country, whether vaccinated or not, must test negative for COVID-19 within one calendar day of departure. This includes foreign visitors as well as US citizens and residents returning home.  

This is a significant change from the current policy of allowing fully vaccinated people to be tested for COVID-19 before traveling to the United States for three days. The change comes just days after the new omicron version of COVID-19 is available. Considered by the World Health Organization as an “option of concern” (most serious category). 

Will, I ought to take a COVID-19 test to enter the United States on a cruise ship?    

Since the test requirements announced on Thursday only apply to passengers arriving in the United States by air, passengers arriving in the United States by cruise ship do not need to undergo a negative COVID-19 test to enter the country.

How will the new rule affect me if I am traveling abroad?

 In this case, the rules for testing cruisers change. Cruisers departing from the United States to land, for example, in Europe or South America, will now need to pass the COVID-19 test (and get negative) no more than 24 hours before returning home from the cruise. 

So far, they have had a three-day window before returning home to take such a test. Most cruise lines offer COVID-19 testing to passengers in these situations for free or at a reasonable cost a day or two before the cruise ends.   

This meant that cruisers could usually leave ships at the end of an overseas departure with the necessary paperwork to return home to the United States on the same day. 

What COVID-19 testing will I need to get home from an overseas cruise?

 As in the past, travelers entering the United States by air may test negative for both the antigen and the PCR test for COVID-19.    

Recently, there has been talking of the Biden administration demanding the most sophisticated PCR test. But that was not part of the ultimate rule.   

This is good news for cruisers worried about getting COVID-19 test results in a new, more arduous one-day window, as antigen test results usually come back quickly. The only rule change is that the COVID-19 test should be carried out no more than a day before departure home, not three days before.

 Can I take the COVID-19 antigen test home to return from an overseas cruise?   

But only supervised home tests are suitable. Earlier this year, the CDC said passengers can use supervised home testing to meet testing requirements for flights to the United States, and a new rule announced Thursday did not mention a change to that policy. Home tests allowed (under supervision) to enter the United States included the Abbott BinaxNow Home Test for COVID-19 and Ellume’s Home COVID-19 Test.    

Are there any limitations to the new COVID-19 testing rule? 

Travelers aged 2 and under are exempt from the new regulation and the original.

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