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You Do Have to Wear a Mask to Cruise: Here’s When – Cruise Line Guide

If you’re considering a cruise anytime soon you may be wondering if you’ll have to wear a mask on board. Cruises are currently sailing in Europe with UK and US cruise lines making plans to return to cruising.

All plans being made include the wearing of masks.

Do You Have to Wear a Mask on a Cruise?

Guests currently taking a cruise do have to wear masks when social distancing is not possible. Common times for guests to wear a mask on a cruise include during embarkation and when walking through the ship. Most cruise lines do provide masks for guests to wear.

So far no cruise lines have returned to cruising where masks are not mandatory. Mask wearing has been mentioned in all cruise lines return to cruising plans.

The information in this post is based on cruise lines that are currently sailing and or cruise lines that have return to cruise plans which include mask-wearing.

Do You Have to Wear a Mask on an MSC Cruise?

Masks are currently mandatory on MSC Cruises. They must be worn when social distancing isn’t possible and masks are provided in guests cabins by MSC.

MSC are currently sailing in Europe and were one of the first mainstream cruise lines to return to sailing. It is expected that when MSC set sail from the US the same processes will be in place.

On an MSC cruise guests have to wear masks at the following times:

  • Embarkation/Disembarkation
  • When walking through the ship
  • When dancing/taking part in activities

There are a number of other Coronavirus precautions on MSC cruise ships including Covid-19 tests, social distancing and reduced capacity.

I spoke to the crew and passengers on board the MSC Grandiosa when the ship first set sail. To find out more about what life is like on board, check out this video:

Do You Have to Wear a Mask on a TUI Cruise?

Guests cruising with german cruise line TUI have to wear masks when social distancing isn’t possible.

TUI were the first mainstream cruise line in Europe to set sail and they started by offering cruises to nowhere and now have multiple cruise ships sailing.

TUI also provides masks for guests in their cabins on embarkation day.

To learn more about what it’s like to cruise with TUI check out this video I made with my friend Dario, he was on the first cruise onboard the Mein Schiff 2:

Do You Have to Wear a Mask on a Royal Caribbean Cruise?

Guests cruising with Royal Caribbean have to wear masks when social distancing is not possible. Masks must be worn at embarkation, when walking through the ship and on excursions.

Norwegian Cruise line and Royal Caribbean joined forced to create a ‘Healthy sail panel’ which sets out guidelines for cruise lines to return to cruise.

Do You Have to Wear a Mask on a Norwegian Cruise Line Cruise?

Guests cruising with Norwegian Cruise Line have to wear masks at embarkation, on excursions, and whenever on the ship where social distancing is not possible. Masks don’t need to be worn where adequate space can be kept between guests such as the top deck.

The healthy start panel formed by Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line has released a 69-page document detailing their return to the sailing plan. The guidelines put in place state:

“To prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, cruise operators should require guests and crew to wear cloth face coverings/face masks in accordance with CDC recommendations.”


The recommendations talk about how masks are an important tool. The guidelines do say that the restrictions may be reduced over time but at least in the short term guests will be required to wear masks to cruise.

Do You Have to Wear a Mask on a Carnival Cruise?

It has not yet been confirmed that guests cruising with Carnival will have to wear face masks although it as assumed that they will. Guests cruising with Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, and other cruise lines, including Costa which are owned by Carnival do require masks to be worn.

It would be very unlikely that Carnival would allow guests to cruise without masks when all other cruise lines are requiring them. I’ve not yet seen a ‘return to cruising’ plan for Carnival so cannot confirm this but would bet good money on mask-wearing being mandatory on Carnival cruises in the future.

CDC Guidance with Regards to Mask Wearing

The cruise lines are primarily following the guidance of the CDC when it comes to mask-wearing. The following findings are from the CDC and this approach is mirrored across Europe where cruise lines are currently sailing.

The Panel discussed the benefits to widespread and consistent usage of face masks on board a cruise ship as well as consumer preferences about mask usage.

There is increasing evidence that cloth face coverings help prevent people who are infected with SARS-CoV-2 from spreading the virus to others.

According to the CDC, cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 that could reduce the spread of the virus, particularly when used universally within communities.


Do The Crew Wear Masks on Cruises?

All crew members with passenger facing roles have to wear face masks and observe social distancing rules. Waiters, bar staff, housekeeping, and cleaners are all required to wear masks when working on cruise ships. Many will also wear protective face shields.

The crew of cruise ships already work incredibly long days doing difficult jobs. Wearing a mask will make this more difficult so when cruising make sure that you are EXTRA nice to the staff!

What Happens if I Don’t Wear a Mask on a Cruise?

Any guests refusing to wear a mask on a cruise where a mask is required will be disembarked from the ship with no refund provided. By embarking on the cruise guests are accepting the terms and conditions of the cruise contract which states that the cruise line can remove guests who disobey rules like mask-wearing.

Cruise lines are also completely within their rights to deny boarding to anybody who doesn’t wear a mask.

Where on a Cruise Won’t Guests Have to Wear Masks?

Guests on cruises won’t have to wear masks in the follow places on the majority of cruise lines:

  • In their cabins
  • When seated for dinner in the main dining room/buffet
  • On the top deck when adequate social distance is available
  • When watching a show or having a drink in a bar

Generally speaking, if social distancing is possible and guests are in a fixed location, for example, sat at fixed tables in a bar or restaurant then mask-wearing is not going to be mandatory.

Whenever guests come into contact with each other or are in a situation where social distancing cannot be guaranteed, for example walking up the stairs or down a corridor, masks will be required.

If you’re looking for cruise themed masks, look no further:

Will The Cruise Lines Provide Masks?

Many cruise lines are providing disposable masks to guests. Some are providing these daily and some are only providing these on embarkation day.

If possible I would strongly recommend that guests bring their own masks, preferably reusable if at all possible.

Passengers can use a travel wash to wash their masks in the sink of their cabin. A couple of masks will be needed to rotate adequately but it can work well.

I like to use travel wash like this one which you can pick up on Amazon here.

What Happens if I Can’t Wear a Mask For Medical Reasons?

Guests who are unable to wear a mask for medical reasons will not be made to do so but a cruise line may not allow a guest with serious medical problems to embark on a cruise.

Each cruise line is making assessments when it comes to the risk of their passengers cruising. Guests who have medical conditions that mean that they cannot wear a mask may be refused boarding if the cruise line decides that they are too high risk to cruise.

If you are in this situation it’s well worth speaking to the cruise line about your options.

How Long Will This Last For?

Mask wearing on a cruise will be a part of daily life for the foreseeable future. When masks are no longer required to be worn on land they’ll also be removed from the cruise lines recommendations.

At present nobody really knows when this’ll be but masks will be required while the cruise lines are slowly returning to cruising.

To find out more about how other cruisers are feeling about wearing masks on cruises, check out the video below:

Masks aren’t the only thing that’ll be different when we return to cruising, social distancing messages will also affect almost every element of our cruise. To find out how, click here: