2 more major cruise lines will require proof of vaccination for Florida sailings

Aug 25, 2021

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Due to new Bahamas requirements, most passengers booked on Carnival Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line ships will now have to show proof of vaccination in order to board.

Effective 3 September – 1 November, 2021, the Bahamas — one of the most frequented destinations on warm-weather cruise itineraries — will require cruise lines to show that all eligible passengers are vaccinated before they are allowed to disembark in the country.

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(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

That means anyone 12 or older who isn’t exempt for medical reasons must be inoculated and provide documentation before being allowed to sail.

“Effective 28 August through October, for departures from all Atlantic and Gulf homeports, only children under 12 and adults with a medical condition that prohibits their vaccination are exempt from vaccination requirements to sail,” Carnival says in a statement on its website.

Notable is the fact that the statement mentions only Atlantic (East Coast) and Gulf homeports. The cruise line’s COVID-19 terms and conditions state the following about cruisers departing from the West Coast: “Vaccine exemptions for ships departing from Long Beach, California will continue to be accepted for children under 12 and as required by U.S. federal law. Exemptions for children and adults are not guaranteed and are capacity-controlled based on the total number of vaccinated guests projected to be onboard.”

(Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

That means, technically, there could be unvaccinated people sailing from the West Coast who are not younger than 12 and who don’t have medical conditions, as long as at least 95% of guests onboard are vaccinated. (Ships must sail at least 95% vaccinated in order to comply with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations.)

Meanwhile, Disney Cruise Line’s statement says, “For sailings to the Bahamas beginning 3 September 2021, until 1 November 2021 … all guests ages 12 and older must be fully vaccinated to board the ship… Guests who choose not to provide proof of vaccination to meet the requirements of the Bahamas will not be permitted to board the ship.”

Most cruises that visit ports in the Bahamas — including cruise line private islands, such as Carnival’s Half Moon Cay and Disney’s Castaway Cay — depart from Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order making it illegal for businesses there to require customers to be vaccinated. Earlier this month, a Florida judge issued a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed by Norwegian Cruise Line, allowing NCL to make proof of vaccination mandatory for passengers.

Cruise port agents wait to check passenger vaccine cards at Port Miami. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

In light of that ruling, the Bahamas’ new protocols and the official approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Carnival and Disney have followed Norwegian’s lead. Royal Caribbean also announced last week that it, too, will be requiring travelers to show their vaccine cards in order to embark on voyages from Florida.

In its latest round of recommendations, the CDC advises travelers to avoid cruise ships if they’re unvaccinated or have underlying medical conditions. The agency has also recommended that Americans avoid travel to the Bahamas.

Featured photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy.

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