Norwegian Cruise Line changes policy and now requires customers to wear masks


In an email sent to guests who have booked, Norwegian Cruise Line updated its onboard mask policy to require guests to wear masks indoors and out when social distancing cannot be maintained . This is a sharp change from the line’s fully vaccinated “no cruise mask” policy, and was carried out without warning.

Norwegian Cruise Line “asks” passengers to wear masks

Guests booked on crossings of Norwegian escape, Norwegian joy, Norwegian escape, and Norwegian Gem have received notification emails indicating that the health and safety protocols on board their upcoming crossings – as of tomorrow, December 18, 2021 – have been changed.

Masks must now be worn on board in interior areas, except when passengers are actively eating or drinking or while in passenger cabins. Masks should also be worn in all outdoor spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained.

Email sent to guests – Image courtesy of Melissa Mayntz

Although the language of the email indicates that they “ask” guests to wear masks and does not use the word “mandatory”, this amounts to a direct change from the “no cruise mask” policy of the line in recent weeks, a policy for the NCL entirely- vaccinated crossings that many cruise passengers have enjoyed.

The email goes on to reiterate the cruise line’s vaccination and pre-cruise testing protocols, which have not been changed. Passengers who do not comply with the requirements listed in the email will be denied boarding for their cruise without any refund or compensation.

The line’s official website has yet to be updated on this protocol change and there is no confirmation as to whether this is a fleet-wide change or how long the protocol can be in effect.

UPDATE – Several hours after invitees received their notification emails, updated the “Sail Safe” section of its website to clarify that “For crossings with boarding dates up to and including December 19, 2021, all guests and crew are required to wear masks on board indoors, except when actively eating or drinking, or seated at a table in a dining room, or in their cabin .

Updated NCL Mask - Photo by
Updated NCL Mask – Photo by

Short notice changes

This notification email was sent to passengers a few days or even hours before the departure of their cruises, including the December 18, 2021 departures of Norwegian escape from Port Canaveral and Norwegian joy from PortMiami, the crossing of December 19, 2021 of Norwegian escape New Orleans, and the December 19, 2021 crossing of Norwegian Gem from New York. Additional ships may also be affected by this change.

Norwegian Gem cruise ship
Photo credit: Wangkun Jia /

Norwegian escape recently made headlines for several cases of COVID-19 on board, a total of 17 documented cases on approximately 3,200 passengers and crew. The cruise with these cases returned to New Orleans on schedule and disembarked normally on December 6.

According to the CDC Cruise Ship Color Status, updated with data as of December 16, no Norwegian ship has a “red” status indicating a serious outbreak. The four ships where passengers confirmed receiving the email notification of the new protocols – Break away, Escape, Joy, and Gem – are listed as “green”, indicating that no cases of COVID-19 have been reported.

No compensation offered

At this time, Norwegian Cruise Line does not offer any refunds, future cruise credits, rebooking options, or other compensation for affected passengers who may wish to change their travel plans due to the drastic change in protocols. It is possible that the line will change this policy in the next few hours, as this is a developing situation.

Stay tuned to Cruise Hive for further updates and more details as they become available.

Norwegian Escape cruise ship