Most cruise lines require you take a pre-cruise COVID test. The particulars vary by cruise line and vaccination status, and they are changing all the time. You should absolutely see what requirements apply to your particular cruise. However, I just took my test. I opted for the at-home test offered by EMed and Abbott labs. It was a great choice, but there are some specific details you need to know about before getting started.
What are the advantages of taking your test at home?
The biggest advantage is convenience. You can schedule it for any point in your testing window from wherever you happen to be. There are no lines, and the process took me about a half hour from the time I logged in until the time I had my results letter. For most of that time, I was drinking coffee. The other advantage is cost. This test tends to cost between $25-$35 dollars depending on how many you order. I would order a couple if extra just to be on the safe side and use those later if need be. Finally, if you administer your own test there is a lot smaller chance of you getting so enthusiastic with the cotton swab that you poke your own eyeball. Please be careful.
So what do I need to know?
If you take your pre-cruise COVID test at home, there are several things you need to know. The first is that you absolutely cannot simply take any home test you would like. Rather, the test must be proctored by someone. Antigen tests are, depending on the cruise, generally fine– they certainly worked for my Caribbean cruise on Carnival. However, to get certified results someone needs to watch you take the test.
Before taking the test, please do not open the box. The proctor must watch you do that, because reasons. Also, make sure to create your account before getting started, and have an ID with you. Children under 16 must have the test administered by an adult, and they must be added to an adult’s account rather than creating their own.
The other thing you need to know is that the test has to lay on a flat surface. That is fine if you are taking it from your kitchen table using your phone camera. Actually, that is what I would recommend. However, I elected to use my desktop to do this. Like many people, my desktop is on an, um, on a desk. That means I had to jury rig a flat table using a stool on a flat table. That was kind of a pain.
When you take your test, you wait 15 minutes. You can walk away from the camera, but your test must remain visible. That means that if you used your phone, you cannot take it with you. Be sure to be back at the end of the 15 minutes. You will be told results right away (which you can see), and you will be emailed an official letter within a few minutes. There are some steps you need to know, but this is definitely the process I would use again next time to meet pre-cruise COVID testing requirements.