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POST cruise testing - PCR


Marlena
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I know everything is still so fluid and so much can/will change as time goes on. However, has anyone heard if RC said they would offer travellers who need a negative PCR test to return home one on day 6 instead of the antigen test? As of now we need it before returning and if it could be done on the ship that would be a lot easier!

That being said maybe by DEC an antigen test is sufficient or no test...even better!

 

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The US State Department web site (linked below) says this about testing and entry to the US for US citizens after foreign travel:

"You will need a viral test (NAAT or antigen test) to determine if you are currently infected with COVID-19." 

A NAAT - Nucleic Acid Amplification test - includes the PCR - also referred to as a molecular test. These are different from antigen tests (considered more accurate) but a negative antigen test which also tests for the presence of the SARS2 virus is fine for reentry to the US.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/before-you-go/covid-19_testing_required_US_Entry.html

I'm booked on Celebrity Apex out of Athens on July 9th that returns there on July 17th. We'll be returning from Athens to Miami on the 17th as well. Regarding return to home testing, the Celebrity web site says this:

"An additional test will be administered onboard, free of charge, if required for homeport, or home country re-entry."

I'm reasonably certain that Celebrity's return to home, required reentry testing will be accomplished with antigen tests as a priority but may use rapid molecular testing (rapid PCR). I'm not certain about this. Antigen tests are less expensive and easier to process and handle. As far as I know the fleets of cruise ships sailing from US ports have been equipped with fully US certified laboratory's for processing molecular tests. I'm less sure about ships cruising from foreign ports who would be subject to the PH guidance of that country. Anyway, the antigen tests will be fine for US entry.

The CDC recommends that after foreign travel you get a viral test 3-5d after returning to the US.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel-during-covid19.html

I actually feel that this is reasonable as vaccinated people are more likely, if they catch COVID while traveling, to be asymptomatic. The goal of PH authorities as control of SARS2 is gained in the US is to limit the potential for new COVID outbreaks. If you've been vaccinated and then get infected with a variant while traveling you may be asymptomatic but still shed virus and spread it to others who are not vaccinated. If you test positive, standard protocols pertain.

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32 minutes ago, smokeybandit said:

I think the short answer is that if you need a PCR test to return to your home country, RC will not be providing that. At least for North AMerican cruises.

Yeah thats what I figured. Wondering how fast I can get one at the airport to fly out that day!

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A number of major airports now have RT-PCR tests with 1 to 3 hour turn arounds. However, they are:

1) expensive, so expect $130 to $350 

2) very limited availability, so make an appointment as far in advance as you can

i track this very carefully, as Nicaragua (where I live right now) has insane entry testing requirements. I’m happy the share what I know for the folks that have different needs than straight US entry stuff! 

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1 hour ago, Marlena said:

According to their site it seems pretty quick!

Screenshot_20210622-084315_Samsung Internet.jpg

Wow that is a surprise to me... much faster than when I ran PCR in the lab.  ?  Good news for anyone needing a rapid test.  Just make sure the test is approved for your destination. I keep reading stories of people flying to Hawaii with an 'unapproved' test and having to fly back to the mainland to get a test (which seems stupid to me but that is a whole other topic).

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18 minutes ago, smokeybandit said:

RC DOES have the ability to do PCR tests on board.  Surely you're not the only Canadian booked on a cruise for whom the antigen test wouldn't suffice.

So maybe as cruising increases they will offer it to international travellers! Now I have hope! Lol

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When I made my post providing links to the CDC and US State Department, I did not realize you were from Canada - entirely different ball game. My apologies.  One travel related thing Canadians, unlike Americans, have to worry about is that Canada has been slow providing vaccines to it's citizens. Obviously, this complicates travel in the short term and probably for at least another 90-120d before that situation improves and I am reading that it is. Outside of that, you might be in much better shape although I expect testing is going to continue to be a requirement for unvaccinated travelers entering most countries and may continue even for vaccinated travers entering other countries well into 2022.

Out of my own interest, I found this information from the Government of Canada web site. It's current:

https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/flying-canada-checklist

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On 6/22/2021 at 5:16 PM, JeffB said:

When I made my post providing links to the CDC and US State Department, I did not realize you were from Canada - entirely different ball game. My apologies.  One travel related thing Canadians, unlike Americans, have to worry about is that Canada has been slow providing vaccines to it's citizens. Obviously, this complicates travel in the short term and probably for at least another 90-120d before that situation improves and I am reading that it is. Outside of that, you might be in much better shape although I expect testing is going to continue to be a requirement for unvaccinated travelers entering most countries and may continue even for vaccinated travers entering other countries well into 2022.

Out of my own interest, I found this information from the Government of Canada web site. It's current:

https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/flying-canada-checklist

Thanks! Yeah as of right now we couldn't go just because my daughter is unvaccinated. We as medical professionals have been doubly vaccinated since early March. She would have to quarantine for 2 weeks still. 

My hope is by then ( dec) they accept antigen testing for return. 

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Canadian, full Vaxx, travelling to Galveston for the Aug 22-29 cruise.  Need a PCR with 72 hours of returning to Canada. Everywhere I look for places to get tested in Galveston/Houston have turn around times of 24-72 hours which is to be expected.  I'm trying to determine if RCCL will offer this test (even for a fee) while on the ship otherwise I'll need to stay state side for another three days after the cruise.  Any insight would be appreciated.  

Thankfully I no longer need to quarantine when returning to Canada.  

Edited by Tanner
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2 hours ago, Tanner said:

Canadian, full Vaxx, travelling to Galveston for the Aug 22-29 cruise.  Need a PCR with 72 hours of returning to Canada. Everywhere I look for places to get tested in Galveston/Houston have turn around times of 24-72 hours which is to be expected.  I'm trying to determine if RCCL will offer this test (even for a fee) while on the ship otherwise I'll need to stay state side for another three days after the cruise.  Any insight would be appreciated.  

Thankfully I no longer need to quarantine when returning to Canada.  

Same!!! Hoping with cruising increasing they will offer it for international cruisers.

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If I'm not mistaken, RCL will provide COVID testing on your cruise - type of test depending on where your are reentering  - at their cost in time for you to get results before you disembark, Just to make sure of this I looked at FAQs at the RCL web site as well as googling that question and came up with, yep RCL will do your reentry testing for you and it's free. Both sources say RCL will provide "testing to reenter your home country" - US or Canada. Great, what kind of test am I going to get and will it meet reentry requirements for Canada?

The Canadian government web site says "not and antigen test." for reentry. It does not say you have to have a "PCR" (Polymerase Chain Reaction for short also known as RT-PCR or Reverse Transcriptase PCR) Saying "not an antigen test" implies you need a "molecular test" - I know terms are confusing. This is the broad category of diagnostic testing for COVID that looks for viral particles, not SARS2 antigens) by several different means. Here's a nice visual:

https://www.fda.gov/media/140161/download

A ship doing reentry testing for passengers has to have a certified lab on board to do molecular tests.  There are too many variables that could produce an unexpected reentry denial outcome for me if I were a Canadian traveler. If you have a TA, my advice is to request them ask RCL what kind of reentry testing for Canadians you will receive for your specific cruise and have her send you RCL's response an an email or contact RCL and ask for the same.  

To be frank, asking for molecular (PCR) tests is overkill. Boarder agents should be doing screening not diagnosing. The RT-PCR test is the "Gold Standard" for diagnosing COVID. Hospitals use it. Antigen tests are the best for screening. The probable reason boarder agents in most countries want RT-PCR tests is that they are very accurate - upwards of 99% sensitive and specific for SARS2 if collection and processing are done correctly (another subject). Antigen tests are 98% sensitive and about 80-90% specific for SARS2. They are also easier to collect and process reducing errors. That is entirely adequate for screening purposes.

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On 6/22/2021 at 4:17 PM, Marlena said:

Ok so what i really need is Canada to accept antigen tests...or require no tests by Dec! ?

Let's hope so. Wish the cruise lines would do the tests, and just charge us. Some of the AI resorts I've looked at include tests in their cost, which is nice.

2 hours ago, Tanner said:

Canadian, full Vaxx, travelling to Galveston for the Aug 22-29 cruise.  Need a PCR with 72 hours of returning to Canada. Everywhere I look for places to get tested in Galveston/Houston have turn around times of 24-72 hours which is to be expected.  I'm trying to determine if RCCL will offer this test (even for a fee) while on the ship otherwise I'll need to stay state side for another three days after the cruise.  Any insight would be appreciated.  

Thankfully I no longer need to quarantine when returning to Canada.  

If you need to stay in Houston, go to 100% Taquito at Southwest Freeway and Buffalo Speedway. Ummm, I've got nothing outside of that.

I've got the AZ/Moderna combo, so I'm hoping that won't be an impediment to a) getting into the US and b) cruising.

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18 hours ago, JeffB said:

If I'm not mistaken, RCL will provide COVID testing on your cruise - type of test depending on where your are reentering  - at their cost in time for you to get results before you disembark, Just to make sure of this I looked at FAQs at the RCL web site as well as googling that question and came up with, yep RCL will do your reentry testing for you and it's free. Both sources say RCL will provide "testing to reenter your home country" - US or Canada. Great, what kind of test am I going to get and will it meet reentry requirements for Canada?

The Canadian government web site says "not and antigen test." for reentry. It does not say you have to have a "PCR" (Polymerase Chain Reaction for short also known as RT-PCR or Reverse Transcriptase PCR) Saying "not an antigen test" implies you need a "molecular test" - I know terms are confusing. This is the broad category of diagnostic testing for COVID that looks for viral particles, not SARS2 antigens) by several different means. Here's a nice visual:

https://www.fda.gov/media/140161/download

A ship doing reentry testing for passengers has to have a certified lab on board to do molecular tests.  There are too many variables that could produce an unexpected reentry denial outcome for me if I were a Canadian traveler. If you have a TA, my advice is to request them ask RCL what kind of reentry testing for Canadians you will receive for your specific cruise and have her send you RCL's response an an email or contact RCL and ask for the same.  

To be frank, asking for molecular (PCR) tests is overkill. Boarder agents should be doing screening not diagnosing. The RT-PCR test is the "Gold Standard" for diagnosing COVID. Hospitals use it. Antigen tests are the best for screening. The probable reason boarder agents in most countries want RT-PCR tests is that they are very accurate - upwards of 99% sensitive and specific for SARS2 if collection and processing are done correctly (another subject). Antigen tests are 98% sensitive and about 80-90% specific for SARS2. They are also easier to collect and process reducing errors. That is entirely adequate for screening purposes.

I've spoken with RCL social media team and they advised they only offer an antigen test on board.  Although I would certainly believe as I you have pointed out that they would have lab capabilities.  

For any other Canadians monitoring the thread I will update as soon as I hear back anything more official as antigen test will not cut it for us at present time.  
 

@Marlena @KWong

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This is the official answer I got from RCL asking for PCR testing on board :

"Please be advised that, currently, only antigen testing will be available onboard. The situation is still changing, and you may want to inquire about your options while onboard. However, we may only advise you that we are unable to do the specific testing you require onboard and we recommend that you make other arrangements for this testing in order to meet the entry requirements for your country. Thank you for your understanding."

 

That was for Adventure , Maybe they will change it for other ceuises (from Europe ?)

Anyway , just returned from the US and did my test in NYC , 48 hours results test can cost from 145 $ or even 0 in some labs .

15 minutes PCR test cost around 250$ at the airport

That's why we did not took the cruise and replaced it with land tour in NYC ( highly recommend if you want to experience all the attention with zero queues ...)

 

 

 

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Thanks for posting this info. I'm not Canadian but if I were and as I said, I would have been uncomfortable not knowing exactly what was available on the ship I was cruising on. I find it troubling that this seemingly loose end - can I really get the test I need to reenter the country I reside in before I debark - isn't officially addressed by RCL on their web site. 

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On 6/24/2021 at 7:46 AM, Tanner said:

Canadian, full Vaxx, travelling to Galveston for the Aug 22-29 cruise.  Need a PCR with 72 hours of returning to Canada. Everywhere I look for places to get tested in Galveston/Houston have turn around times of 24-72 hours which is to be expected.  I'm trying to determine if RCCL will offer this test (even for a fee) while on the ship otherwise I'll need to stay state side for another three days after the cruise.  Any insight would be appreciated.  

Thankfully I no longer need to quarantine when returning to Canada.  

Here’s one place that does same-day PCR testing in Houston. Not sure on cost, but probably less than 3 days hotel plus food… https://elitecarehouston.com/covid-19-information/covid-19-testing-info/

 

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9 hours ago, Traveler said:

15 minutes PCR test cost around 250$ at the airport

@Tanner IAH (George Bush Intercontinental Airport) in Houston does have the Rapid PCR testing, but it is $250 per test ($200 if they accept the NAAT Molecular) and you have to schedule it ahead of time.

https://www.xprescheck.com/

For a full family of folks it might be cheaper to just plan to hang the extra couple days in Houston after the cruise and get tested for free at Walgreens.

 

 

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