Health and Safety Protocols

Learn what you can expect during your next Signature Land, Private, Custom, or 2022 River Cruise Expedition. Please check this page often as information continues to be updated.

Updated January 12th, 2022

National Geographic Expeditions is gearing up to explore the world with you once again. Learn what you can expect during your next expedition—and be sure to check back here as information is updated often.

Welcoming You Back

As we welcome travelers back on guided group trips with National Geographic Expeditions, promoting health and safety is a top priority.

Our focus remains on the well-being of our travelers and staff, and on operating our trips in a responsible way that continues to create unforgettable experiences.

National Geographic Expeditions is resuming trips with multiple layers of health and safety measures developed considering guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other health experts. With this guidance, we have reimagined the National Geographic Expeditions experience. Given the evolving global health environment, our Health and Safety Protocols may change as we consider new guidance and recommendations from health agencies. This deliberate approach allows us to evaluate and adjust along the way.

We’re providing you with these Traveler Health and Safety Protocols ahead of your trip so you understand our policies and can do your part. This includes information about personal health and hygiene and new measures we have put in place for COVID-19 testing and vaccination, physical distancing, face coverings, cleaning, and more.

Please note that additional guidelines may be posted at a later date pertaining to National Geographic Expeditions River Cruises. Please check back for additional information.

Vaccination and COVID Testing Requirements

National Geographic Expeditions requires all travelers to be fully vaccinated for travel. All travelers, must provide proof of being fully vaccinated before joining any trip. Proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result will not be accepted as an alternative.

In consideration of guidance from the CDC and the World Health Organiztion (WHO), National Geographic Expeditions accepts the following vaccine types: Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Covishield, Novavax, Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV (VeroCell), Sinovac-CoronaVac, and Covavaxin (Bharat Biotech).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines fully vaccinated as 14 days after receiving:

  • A single-dose of an accepted 1-dose vaccine
  • The second dose of an accepted 2-dose vaccine
  • The full series of an active (not placebo) COVID-19 vaccine in the US-based AstraZeneca or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trials
  • The second dose of any “mix and match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines (administered at least 17 days apart)

All travelers must submit proof of vaccination to The Anvil Group within 24 hours prior to the start of the trip. Anvil is National Geographic Expeditions’ third-party partner for conducting health assessments and verifying proof of COVID-19 vaccination and testing. More information about this process will be provided prior to departure.

Before Leaving Home – Online Health Assessment

All travelers, Expedition leaders and on-trip staff must complete an online health assessment and submit to The Anvil Group within 24 hours of departure. If the traveler answers “yes” to any symptoms on the health assessment or has close contact with an individual with suspected infection, it may result in their inability to embark on the trip. The health assessment will screen for:

  • Temperature of 100.4 or higher
  • COVID-19 symptoms: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, new onset of nausea, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Attendance at large gatherings within the previous 14 days
  • Domestic or international travel within the previous 14 days
  • Diagnosis of COVID-19—or close contact with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19—in the previous 14 days without completing the required self-quarantine period

Verbal Health Assessment
Arrival Day: travelers will complete a private, verbal health assessment to screen for COVID-19 symptoms. For 2022 River Cruises, travelers will have their temperature taken upon embarkation with no-contact infrared thermometers. Travelers displaying or reporting any COVID-19 symptoms will be evaluated by The Anvil Group. Anvil is National Geographic Expedition’s third-party partner for conducting health assessments. If further evaluation is required, they will be directed to a nearby shoreside medical treatment centers.

Duration of Trip: travelers will be required to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms daily. Should a traveler display COVID-19 symptoms, a telehealth medical consultation will be conducted to determine whether they can continue on the trip. Expedition leaders will include health and safety reminders specific to each day’s itinerary in daily briefings.

Reentry Into the U.S. (International Expeditions Only)

The CDC requires anyone 2 years of age and over entering or reentering the United States (including U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents) to present a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flight. Travelers will need to produce a negative viral test result within one day of travel to the U.S. Prior to the trip, National Geographic Expeditions will provide travelers with information on how to obtain the required testing. Details will be unique to the specific point of departure for reentry.

If someone in your travel party receives a positive COVID-19 test result within 48 hours of your trip completion, you must notify National Geographic Expeditions immediately.

Travel Pods

Prior to the trip, our team will work with travelers to determine the composition of their travel party, referred to as a “travel pod.” A pod may be large—made up of multiple families—or as small as one person. If you are traveling with any known companions who booked in a separate reservation, you can request to be placed in a pod together prior to departure. Once a trip begins, travel pods cannot be changed. Activities, meals, lodging and transportation will be arranged in a manner that incorporates physical distancing and reduces direct contact between travel pods.

For Private Expeditions, all members of the travel party will be considered one travel pod.

Face Coverings and Physical Distancing

National Geographic Expeditions will mail a cloth face covering to travelers prior to their trip. Travelers must use the provided face covering while in shared transportation. Made with multiple layers of engineered fabric, these face coverings are intentionally designed with adjustable ear loops to help reduce side gapping and provide for a secure fit. A flexible wire running across the nose bridge allows them to be formed against the face to help reduce air from escaping or entering. Traveler capacity during shared transportation has been calculated based on the manufacturing specifications of these face coverings.

Travelers may use their own face coverings in all other circumstances as long as they meet the following criteria:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Fully cover the nose and mouth and secure under the chin
  • Secured with ties or ear loops
  • Include multiple layers of fabric (minimum 3-ply for cloth)
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • If reusable, they can be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Travelers may bring face coverings that have an integrated transparent plastic panel to aid in viewing the wearer’s mouth. These face coverings must:

  • Be a fabric face covering featuring a solid plastic panel containing no openings that is attached to the fabric on all sides using tight knit stitching
  • Meet all face-covering requirements listed above

Travelers are strongly encouraged to bring extra face coverings that meet the criteria listed above.

Please note: At this time, based on guidance from health authorities, neck gaiters, open-chin triangle bandanas and face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind are not acceptable face coverings. Costume masks are also not considered appropriate and are prohibited from being worn, in alignment with our existing rules.

Travelers are required to wear a face covering during indoor activities. Travelers are not required to physical distance indoors while wearing masks.

During outdoor activities travelers do not have to wear a face covering or physically distance unless required by the venue or local regulations.

Travelers within a travel pod may interact with each other without masks or physical distancing unless otherwise directed by an Expedition leader.

National Geographic Expeditions-issued face coverings must be worn and physical distancing adhered to by everyone ages 2 and up at all times, when in enclosed vehicles.

Face coverings are not required when eating or drinking, in one's own hotel room, or when participating in water activities.

Expedition Leaders, and tour staff must also follow guidelines for face covering and physical distancing throughout the trip.

In locations where local laws dictate stricter measures than National Geographic Expeditions protocols, more stringent guidelines will apply.

Trip Activities

Group Activities
Travelers will participate in group activities—such as rafting and Zodiac rides—only within their travel pods unless they can adhere to physical distancing guidelines. If physical distancing is required and cannot be maintained for the particular activity, the activity may be substituted with a suitable alternative.

All equipment used for activities will be thoroughly cleaned prior to use.

Expedition leaders are no longer permitted to take pictures using a traveler’s device. Instead, they may take photos with their own equipment and share the images with travelers electronically.


National Geographic Expeditionsissued face coverings, physical distancing, and assigned seating are required on motor coaches and all other modes of shared transportation, including any flights that are part of the itinerary.

Members within the same travel pod may sit together, physically distanced from other travel pods.

Every vehicle will be cleaned before transportation is provided. Transportation companies will conduct a deep clean of all vehicles daily.


Members within the same travel pod will be seated together for meals and solo travelers shall be seated separately. Meals served in restaurants throughout your trip will continue and outdoor seating will be arranged where available. At indoor venues, physical distancing of 6 feet will be maintained between travel pods.


Expedition leaders will help facilitate hotel check-in to avoid excessive time in hotel lobbies.

Housekeeping and turndown services will be limited to reduce the number of hotel staff entering Guest rooms.

Luggage handlers will wash their hands before and after handling luggage as well as wipe down handles and touch points with disinfecting wipes.

Expedition Leader Training & Workplace Safety

All Expedition leaders, drivers, experts and tour staff must provide proof of being fully vaccinated before joining any trip.

In consideration of guidance from the CDC, and the World Health Organiztion (WHO), National Geographic Expeditions accepts the following vaccine types: Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Covishield, Novavax, Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV (VeroCell), Sinovac-CoronaVac, and Covavaxin (Bharat Biotech).

Local suppliers of services (such as trip experts and drivers), who are accompanying travelers in vehicles, and are vaccinated with an alternative COVID-19 vaccine type (because an acceptable vaccine type is not available in their local region), will also be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 5 days prior to the start of the trip.

Expedition leaders, drivers, experts and tour staff will self-screen their health every day prior to joining the group. Those displaying any COVID-19 symptoms will be unable to accompany the group.

In addition, all staff members are receiving additional training on new health and safety measures, as well as on the continued importance of personal health and hygiene.

Local Service Providers

Our travel suppliers and local tour operators play an integral role in promoting health and safety

National Geographic Expeditions will continue making every attempt to select providers of local services – such as restaurants, hotels, activities and transportation – that operate in accordance with our health and safety protocols. We are not able to guarantee that all service providers will implement measures such as face coverings, physical distancing, and limited capacity. All providers must abide by the most current guidelines issued by their local, regional/state and national health authorities such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Please contact us with any concerns or questions you may have.

Cancellation Policy

We understand how much anticipation surrounds each National Geographic Expeditions trip, so we’ve made temporary updates to our policies to offer travelers more flexibility.

Please visit our current booking and cancellation policies by trip type.

Travel Insurance

National Geographic Expeditions strongly encourages travelers to purchase their own travel insurance, including medical coverage, evacuation insurance, and trip cancellation or trip interruption coverage. Insurance is available for purchase during the booking process. Some destinations may require travel insurance for entry.

COVID-19 Warning

An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the CDC, senior citizens and travelers with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable.

By traveling with National Geographic Expeditions you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.

By traveling with National Geographic Expeditions, you accept that if you are deemed unfit to travel (whether according to the CDC, a medical provider, National Geographic Expeditions, or a third party engaged by National Geographic Expeditions to determine a traveler’s fitness to travel), you will not be able to start or continue, as applicable, on the trip.

Health Acknowledgement

Please make sure that you have reviewed any advisories or restrictions that may be in place for travel. In addition, please be sure you are familiar with our booking and cancellation policies. Travelers who are or may be at increased risk of severe illness due to contracting COVID-19 should consult with their health care provider before traveling. By traveling with National Geographic Expeditions, you are confirming that you:

  • Are not experiencing any of the following symptoms of COVID-19 identified by the CDC at opens in a new window, including:
    • Fever or chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea
  • Will report to National Geographic Expeditions if you experience any COVID-19 symptoms while on the trip
  • Have not been in contact with someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 symptoms without completing a 14-day quarantine
  • Are not under any self-quarantine orders

Travelers who cannot confirm all of the above criteria, or who are deemed unfit to travel, will not be eligible to travel with National Geographic Expeditions. If you need to reschedule your trip, please call 1-888-966-8687.

Adherence to Traveler Health and Safety Protocols

By traveling with National Geographic Expeditions, you are consenting to adhere to these Traveler Health and Safety Protocols. National Geographic Expeditions is not liable in any way for the failure of other participants to abide by the Traveler Health and Safety Protocols, and the Traveler Health and Safety Protocols are subject to change at any time at the sole discretion of National Geographic Expeditions. Please confirm any changes to the Traveler Health and Safety Protocols before departure, as all travelers are responsible for abiding by the most updated Traveler Health and Safety Protocols in effect at the time of the expedition.

Indemnity Agreement

Prior to departure, National Geographic Expeditions Travelers will be required to sign a COVID-19 Waiver and Indemnity Agreement acknowledging and assuming liability risks related to traveling during the pandemic.

Please contact 1-888-966-8687 if you have any questions or concerns.