Princess Cruises tightening restrictions as delta variant spreads

Princess Cruises announced Thursday that the company will take measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus on its ships as the delta variant continues to surge across the globe.

On Thursday, the company announced that passengers would be required to wear masks and provide a negative COVID-19 test to board, according to USA Today.

"As Princess Cruises continues with its successful restart of cruise operations the line is adapting to the evolving science around worldwide public health by advising booked guests of temporary changes in onboard mask and pre-cruise testing requirements for cruises in the United States," the cruise line said in a statement, according to the news outlet.

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Cruise ships can be a hotbed for the spread of disease due to limited space, closeness of rooms and the vast amounts of people onboard. In the beginning of the pandemic, several ships' passengers were forced to remain onboard and quarantine during a coronavirus outbreak, for fear that they would spread the disease to more people on land. 

The company will also require all of its passengers and crew members to be vaccinated against the coronavirus in addition to wearing masks in shared spaces including elevators, shops, the casino and upon embarkation and disembarkation, USA Today noted.

"All guests will now be required to wear masks in certain indoor areas on board. This new policy goes into effect with all cruises that depart on or after Saturday, Aug. 7, through Oct. 31, 2021," the cruise line said.

Princess Cruises will also reportedly implement a requirement for all ships departing on Aug. 15 or later to have all passengers, even those who are fully vaccinated, provide negative PCR or antigen tests within three days of boarding.

According to USA Today, Holland America Line also announced new vaccination requirements on Thursday as a precaution to protect passengers from contracting COVID-19.

The news comes amid the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant first identified in India. The variant has been known to cause breakthrough cases among vaccinated individuals, and the spread of this particular strain prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue new guidance for vaccinated individuals to wear masks indoors in surge areas.