Carnival Makes BIG Change to Excursion Rules for Unvaccinated Guests

The return to sailing has led to all sorts of rules and protocols around testing, vaccinations, mask requirements, and more.

And while these rules for cruising have gradually eased as the world learns to live alongside Covid, there are still a number of restrictions in place that mean your vacation has more red tape than it used to.

Case in point: Up until now, Carnival Cruise Line required any unvaccinated guests aged 12 and older to stay on the ship in a port of call, unless they booked a Carnival shore excursion.

That meant if a family sailed with unvaccinated teenagers, then everyone would have to book one of these excursions (which can be pricey) or stay on the ship. Simply heading down to the beach or exploring on your own wasn’t allowed, except for Carnival’s private islands.

Likewise, any adult who was granted an exemption to sail unvaccinated would also have to book a shore excursion to go ashore in most ports. (Unvaccinated kids 11 and under were allowed to go ashore with vaccinated parents.)

Now the cruise line has changed the rules. 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.”

Take a look:

The change means that for many ports (including heavily visited spots like Cozumel), those over 12 years old and sailing without the shot can now go ashore just like they were able to do before the pandemic.

Currently, Carnival 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. However, 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.

There are still some places, however, where older unvaccinated passengers still won’t be able to go ashore. Carnival lists the following restrictions for ports:

  • 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
  • Cartagena, Colombia – age 18 and older will have to remain on board

Bottom line, it’s still far easier to simply sail with the shot. However, this change is another sign that as we move past the worst phase of the pandemic, more things are returning to normal in cruising.

If you’re traveling with teens or can’t get vaccinated due to a medical issue, then put simply you now have more options for getting off the ship.

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  1. Our family consists of 20 or more are waiting for the dropping of shots for covid… we will NOT get any shots. So when the cruise line… whoever is first drops the covid stipulation …we will sign up for a cruise.


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