NEW YORK —Japan will lift the two-and-a-half-year ban on international cruise ships to its border, according to the Associated Press. It is not immediately clear when the ban will officially lift, but a Japanese ship sailing from Port Yokohama in December will be among its first cruise ships.
All crew members must have three COVID-19 vaccine shots, and passengers must have at least two shots. The country also has guidelines for thorough ventilation, distancing and disinfecting common areas. The ban was initially put in place following several passenger deaths resulting in crew and passengers being forced to quarantine for two weeks. More than 700 people became infected on the Diamond Princess ship in total.
“Japan is now ready to start receiving international cruise ships again,” says Tetsuo Saito, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, and Tourism. “We will create an environment that allows tourists to enjoy their cruise without worry while in Japan.”
The dropping of the cruise ban comes on the heels of the country re-opening to independent travellers in October. According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, all visitors must be fully vaccinated with a booster shot or show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of their departure flight.
In April, Australia dropped its ban on cruise ships, and New Zealand did the same in August. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. lifted its ‘No Sail’ order in October 2020 and officially ended its pandemic-era program for cruise ships this past summer.