The cruise industry completely shut down when the covid-19 pandemic began in March of 2020.
Sailings were able resume in the summer of 2021, but cautiously so, as the Center for Disease Control still labeled cruise ships a Level 4 high risk activity until earlier this year.
The CDC instituted a set of rules for cruise lines to follow if they wanted to continue to operate, but over time it lowered the risk level, and eliminated it completely in early March.
Cruise ships travel all over the world, and each country has its own health and safety standards, which gives the CDC a high level of control over the cruise industry.
But for its part, the three major cruise lines--Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) - Get Carnival Corporation Report, Royal Caribbean Group (RCL) - Get Royal Caribbean Group Report and Norwegian (NCLH) - Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report--all tend to err on the side of being as strict as possible when it comes to safety procedures, and all three spend millions refurbishing and updating their ships to make them as safe as possible for guests.
All three have returned to full-fleet this summer and Carnival is actively looking to grow its stable of ships, having recently partnered with the Italian company Costa Crociere for a pair of Italian-themed ships which will start deploying next year.
But nonetheless, it seems like much of the populace is determined to move on and adapt to the new era, and there’s an increasing sense that by this point, anyone who was inclined to get a covid-19 vaccination has done so by now.
With that in mind, Carnival has made a big change to its unvaccinated guests policy that some parties will cheer and others will find to be quite surprising.
What Change Has Carnival Made To Its Unvaccinated Guests Policy?
Carnival had a policy that any unvaccinated guest (who had to produce a negative covid-19 test in order to board ) would have to stay on the ship in a port of call, unless they booked a Carnival shore excursion.
So if you had an unvaccinated teenager with you, when a Carnival ship docked for a while, you either had to stay on board or pay for a usually pricey excursion, and you weren’t able to go to the beach or exploring on your own.
But now, that policy has been done away with. In an update to its protocols page, Carnival now says that “all guests are permitted to go ashore to enjoy one of our tours or independent sightseeing, regardless of vaccination status.” So now people over 12 years old and unvaccinated can go ashore and wander around.
Carnival currently allows a small percentage of passengers 5-11 years old to sail unvaccinated, along with those above 12 years that have medical conditions which prevent vaccination.
But as pointed out by the blog Cruzely, “these passengers must apply for an exemption to sail. Kids under five years aren’t required to have the shot or an exemption. The vast majority of passengers must be vaccinated to sail.”
Restrictions Apply To The New Policy
There are still some places where older unvaccinated passengers won’t be able to go ashore. Carnival lists the following restrictions:
San Juan – age 12 and older will have to remain on board
Bonaire – age 12 and older will have to remain on board
Grand Cayman – age 12 and older will have to remain on board
St. Kitts – age 12 and older will have to remain on board
Tortola – age 12 and older will have to remain on board
Grand Turk – age 16 and older will have to remain on board