Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Cruise Line Makes Big Covid Change

The singer’s cruise line has followed another secondary company sailing from U.S. ports in making a big change.

The pandemic made for some rough waters for the cruise industry to navigate with closures and limits on who can embark the ships. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had some pretty tough restrictions on cruise lines, considering they are complete little worlds on the water, including their own medical centers aboard. Cruise lines were subject to all destinations and port rules for covid. All the safety measures wreaked havoc on their businesses.

Up until recently if anyone wanted to travel, they were taking a risk, more risk than normal during the pandemic. Many people during the pandemic considered it a great risk to go into a grocery store, let alone go on vacation. After the vaccine came out, many people felt the risks were lessened, but not all wanted to get the vaccine meaning these travelers may not be allowed to board. Age and other factors would determine if vaccinations were required to board cruise ships. 

The CDC wanted any and all eligible cruise line travelers to be vaccinated with proof. Travelers also needed to test no more than 2 days before setting sail. They also were required to wear masks. All of these restrictions made it difficult for people to decide to go on a cruise for vacation. Not only did they have to travel to their cruise destination, but they had to risk contracting the virus with or without symptoms prior to their cruise departure. Travelers for Royal Caribbean  (RCL) – Get Royal Caribbean Group Report and Norwegian  (NCLH) – Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report are still requiring a negative covid test before boarding the cruise lines, for the time being. These cruise lines still require proof of vaccinations as well.

If travelers tested positive, it was “sorry, not sorry” — you could not get on the ship.”

Nothing could be more frustrating than a family trying to enjoy a much-needed vacation when a family member tests positive with no symptoms after traveling a minimum of a day to get to the cruise destination.

Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

The CDC Loosens Restrictions

This week, CDC took an ax to allowing the public to view covid cases on cruise lines. If patrons would like to know the stats for a certain cruise line, they need to reach out to the cruise line itself. The CDC has deemed the cruise lines have all the tools they need to keep their patrons as safe as possible. The CDC cruise line program is no longer required, but voluntary. 

Cruise lines can decide what works best for them and also what will keep their patrons safe, while also allowing patrons to be in charge of their own health choices. They can choose to wear masks or not. This is a freedom on vacation that most people really want. Cruise lines are still subject to any and all restrictions for port destinations during their voyage. 

Virgin Voyages, a fledgling cruise line sailing one of its two ships, the Scarlet Lady, out of Miami, dropped the pre-cruise testing requirement after the CDC stopped monitoring covid on cruise ships. Now, the cruise brand owned by billionaire Richard Branson has quietly decided to allow some unvaccinated “sailors,” as it calls its passengers, on its upcoming voyages.

Grab a Margarita, Leave the Covid Test

Parrot Heads getting ready to embark with the Margaritaville at Sea Paradise, owned by Margaritaville Holdings, is removing one such covid travel requirement — taking a test before getting on board. This will not just speed up the boarding process, but also allow guests a huge sigh of relief not having to wait on results of a test known to give false positives, as well as false negatives. Passengers will still have to be vaccinated to travel with the cruise line.

Just last week, that ship’s scheduled cruise to the Bahamas was delayed when the U.S. Coast Guard slapped the Paradise with no-sail order, holding the ship in port until the company rectified some safety violations having to do with automatic doors. 

The Margaritaville brand was begun by country singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett in the 1980s as a tie-in to his hit song of the same name. The brand has since expanded to include dozens of tropical-style casual dining restaurants, bars, resorts and casinos popular with travelers who see vacations as synonymous with drinking by the beach.

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