All the Details of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Sail SAFE Program

NCL outlines its plan to restart cruising on July 4th. We highlight all the details of Norwegian Cruise Line's new Sail SAFE program, with updated safety ashore info!

All the Details of Norwegian Cruise Line's Sail SAFE Program


The CDC has issued its latest technical instructions for cruising. These detailed instructions provided little forward movement and no time frames for when cruise lines could begin test sailings. Well, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings did not like that answer. So, the company submitted a letter to the director of the CDC outlining a plan to restart cruising on July 4th with its Sail SAFE health and safety protocols in place. In this post, we highlight all the details of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Sail SAFE program.


Find Deals on NCL Cruises Now!

All the Details of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Sail SAFE Program

To protect guests, crew, and communities visited, Norwegian Cruise Line has developed a comprehensive health and safety strategy with new and enhanced protocols to create multiple layers of protection against COVID-19. This science-backed plan was developed in conjunction with a group of globally recognized experts on the Healthy Sail Panel. NCL will continuously evaluate this program using the latest advancements in science and technology and will evolve as necessary.

Details of Norwegian Cruise Line's Sail SAFE Program

Safety for Guests and Crew

Mandatory Vaccinations

For initial voyages, all guests and crew will need to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Guests should have received full dosing of the vaccine at least two weeks prior to boarding the ship. This requirement is currently in place for all sailings through October 31, 2021. Whether this will be a requirement for cruises beyond this date is to be determined.

At first glance, you might think this is the same protocol as Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises for its summer sailings, but it does differ. The BIG difference is that guests who are not old enough to receive a vaccine or otherwise not eligible will not be able to sail. That’s right- children WILL NOT be allowed on these initial sailings if they are not old enough for a vaccine!

Cruise Lines Require COVID vaccine

COVID Testing

All guests will need to submit to a COVID antigen test prior to embarkation. This test will be paid for and administered by the cruise line. Only guests with a negative test result will be allowed to board the ship.

Of course, guests will also need to comply with local requirements which could include additional testing. Travel requirements are evolving quickly and vary depending on the port and country of departure. So, Norwegian Cruise Line will communicate with booked guests 30 days prior to sailing to share the most up to date requirements.

In addition, guests will receive a second COVID-19 antigen test prior to disembarkation.

Staggered Embarkation

Norwegian Cruise Line will implement a new check-in process. This process will include staggered embarkation times and the ability to sign documents electronically. Guests will also need to undergo a pre-embarkation health screening which includes a health questionnaire and temperature check.

Face Coverings

Despite the vaccination requirement, guests will still need to wear face coverings while onboard the ship. Guests will need to don a mask at all times while indoors, except while in their own stateroom and while eating and drinking in restaurants, bars, and lounges. Guests will also need to wear a mask outdoors when physical distancing is not possible. 

Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line Ship Classes

Safety Onboard Ships

Use of Norwegian Cruise Line App

The Norwegian Cruise Line app will be even more important now. So, all guests are strongly encouraged to download it prior to sailing. It has been enhanced with features that are essential to a smooth and safe boarding day and cruise. These features include notifications, online check-in, the new online Guest Safety Briefing required of all guests, and the Guest Health, Safety, and Conduct Policy.

Some features are available ONLY via the App, including the Guest Health Questionnaire which guests need to complete 24 hours before sailing. The app also includes important sailing details, ship maps, guest to guest chat, event and dining booking, itinerary planning, steps to assure health and safety, and more.

Reduced Capacity

Norwegian Cruise Line will reduce guest capacity onboard ships initially to promote social distancing. The initial reduced capacity will be 60%. The cruise line indicates the hope would be to increase capacity by 20% every 30 days.

Additionally, dining and entertainment venues onboard ships will have increased spacing.

Most onboard venues and activities, including entertainment, spas, and casinos, will still be available with some temporary modifications. 

Pool Deck of Norwegian Encore - Details of Norwegian Cruise Line's Sail SAFE Program

Contactless Food Service

Norwegian Cruise Line will implement contactless food and beverage service across all venues. The line will also remove all shared use items when able.

This presumably means QR menus will be used in restaurants and bars. However, there are no other details as to whether you might be able to have food and drinks delivered to you around the ship like some other cruise lines have indicated.

Increased Sanitation

Guests will be encouraged in frequent hand washing. Further, increased hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the ship. Guests will also be subject to temperature checks and health screenings throughout the cruise (as well as crew).

There will also be continual disinfection of public spaces and high traffic areas throughout the ship. Guest staterooms will receive daily disinfection.

Norwegian Encore Cruise Review

Upgraded Air Filtration

Norwegian Cruise Line is installing medical grade air filters, MERV 13 or HEPA. These filters are capable of removing 99.9% of airborne pathogens. The company will also utilize new bi-polar ionization technology.

Enhanced Medical Staff and Facilities

Norwegian Cruise Line has increased its medical team relative to guest capacity and enhanced its medical facilities. This includes an increase in intensive care unit capacity and new and upgraded equipment, as well as an abundant stock of medication and virus-testing equipment.

The company will also employ onshore medical partnerships, including telemedicine capabilities. Additionally, complimentary consultations and treatments will be provided for respiratory illnesses. Dedicated isolation accommodations will be available as well should the need arise.

Further, all ships will sail with a dedicated Public Health Officer. This individual will be responsible for oversight of all outbreak prevention initiatives. He/She will also oversee the day-to day sanitation and cleanliness of the ship. Each ship will also have an Infectious Disease Prevention Officer.

Safety Ashore – UPDATED

Norwegian Cruise Line is partnering with local destinations and tour operators to extend its comprehensive health & safety protocols to shore. Norwegian Cruise Line is constantly monitor the health environment across the globe and will modify or cancel itineraries to affected areas as needed.

Initially, NCL had indicated that guests would temporarily only be able to go ashore at ports of call on NCL cruise excursions during July and August sailings. However, this has changed.

The NCL website now states that beyond the port, “Guests are free to explore ports of call on their own, according to protocols in each specific port, and can purchase shore excursions as they wish.”

Top Things to Do in Great Stirrup Cay

Mobilization Plan

Norwegian Cruise Line will utilize contact tracing methods to notify those who may have been exposed if a positive case should arise. The cruise line also has dedicated isolation and quarantine accommodations.

The cruise line has a mobilization and response plan for collaborating with local authorities, providing medical treatments, and coordinating safe return home for guests and crew.


What do you think of the health and safety protocols outlined in Norwegian Cruise Line’s Sail SAFE Program? Would you feel safe cruising with all these measures in place? Drop us an anchor below to share whether you will cruise in 2021.

Stay up to date on the latest cruise news!

Heidi is a physical therapist by profession, cruise enthusiast at heart, and Princess all the time! She is a self-confessed thrill seeker, obsessive planner, and over-packer. She is always looking for the latest and greatest adventures onboard and ashore, enjoys researching top things to do in ports of call, and loves dressing up for formal nights.
Previous Post «
Next Post »
Cruiseline module – Remove Title

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. love to hear this great news about Norwegian cruise Rules are great had my 2 shorts of moderna

    I will not sail at any time on any ship that requires I be inoculated with an experimental drug. The drugs currently administered in the United States are approved by the FDA for EMERGENCY USE ONLY. Under this designation they are considered experimental drugs.

    No more cruising for me
    I love my freedom to chose what goes into my body
    No forcing me to get the jab just to cruise

    August cruise canceled. Sure hope that CDC gets over their issues with cruising. Ready to get back on the ships.

    We booked our cruise with Norwegian for the end of November, so I’m hoping we can not only sail, but visit destinations apart from the shore excursions. One of the reasons we love cruises is that we can explore the ports of call without having to take a shore excursion every time we go ashore. I do like to take a few of the excursions, depending on what they are, but not all the time, and not every port. I am not a face mask fan – I’m hoping that goes away. I will soon be vaccinated, so no problems there because we’ll be vaccinated well before the cruise. When we booked this cruise, it was because we loved the ports of call and the destinations, so mainly hoping it’s all open by the time we hop aboard our flights. That’s assuming the cruise is not cancelled and, as stated above, we don’t need to go on shore excursions to go ashore. I’m concerned about the reduced capacity because we booked our very first balcony room, too, and I don’t want to miss that!! I don’t mind safe cruising, but that ship would be tighter than most hospitals.

Pin This: