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Norwegian Cruise scraps COVID testing for select voyages

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July 6 (Reuters) - Passengers boarding Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings ships won't have to take COVID-19 tests from next month unless required by local law, the U.S. cruise operator said on Wednesday as the crucial summer sailing season gathers steam.

Cruises setting sail from the United States, Canada or Greece's Piraeus will still require pre-cruise COVID testing, and all of the company's guests aged 12 and above have to be fully vaccinated.

The decision comes as several countries lift testing requirements for incoming international air travelers, with people now living with the coronavirus and returning to old routines across the globe.

Norwegian Cruise, the parent of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, runs ships departing from several countries including the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, New Zealand and Sweden.

Last week, rival Carnival Corp's Holland America Line said guests on three voyages departing from Amsterdam and traveling to Norway would not need to undergo pre-cruise COVID testing or provide a negative test result at embarkation.

Royal Caribbean Group said on Wednesday it is not making any changes to its pre-departure testing requirement for the time being.

Shares in Norwegian Cruise declined 9.4%, while Royal Caribbean and Carnival lost 5.9% and 6.5% as wider U.S. markets retreated ahead of minutes from a Federal Reserve meeting. (Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

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