Mask-wearing makes a comeback on some cruises in wake of COVID-19 outbreaks

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Just when we thought the jaw ache was over, a handful of cruise lines has reinstated mask-wearing on some ships following a string of outbreaks on board.

On November 17, both Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line reactivated their mask policies for Coral Princess, Majestic Princess, Grand Princess, Carnival Splendor and Carnival Luminosa, all of which are based in Australia and New Zealand. Royal Caribbean International is also now requiring passengers to wear masks on Ovation of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas, which are also sailing Down Under.

Both countries reopened to cruise ships earlier this year after a more than two-year shutdown spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. A delayed spate of land-based outbreaks has meant that lines are currently seeing a larger number of cases on their ships in the region, necessitating the need for masks.

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“As a result of an increase in community COVID-19 transmission in Australia, and out of an abundance of caution, masks are required in all indoor settings on cruises visiting Australia and New Zealand until further notice,” Princess Cruises said in a statement. “Princess continues to work with global health experts, responsibly adjusting health guidelines as warranted.”

Carnival and Royal Caribbean did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In March, cruise lines began dropping their mask mandates for vaccinated passengers in other destinations, particularly North America, the Caribbean and Europe. Now, most lines have also waived masking requirements for cruisers who are unvaccinated, but they stipulate that policies are subject to change based on local government requirements in the ports ships visit.

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