Carnival Makes Huge Change for Families Sailing With Children Under 12

Parents sailing with younger children aboard a Carnival cruise may want to let out of cheer. The cruise line just updated protocols that make it much easier for them to enjoy ports of calls on their cruise.

Cruzely noticed a change on the cruise line’s “Covid-19 Guest Protocols” page that marks a major shift in policy from Carnival.

With a new update as of April 1, Carnival now says unvaccinated kids under 12 years old can go ashore freely, without having to book an approved cruise line excursion. (Children 5-11 years old are allowed to sail Carnival unvaccinated if approved for a limited number of vaccine exemptions. Kids under five are allowed to sail without an exemption.)

So if parents and kids want to head to the beach on their own in a port of call, then they can now do so without having to purchase one of the select tours offered by Carnival. This change offers up the ability for independent sightseeing and means much more freedom to explore without the restriction or cost of a tour.

You can see the change in policy shown on Carnival’s website below:

Newly updated language on Carnival’s website says that unvaccinated kids under 12 can now go ashore with parents… instead of having to book a tour.

However, it’s important to note that this change does not apply to unvaccinated adults or children over 12 years old. It appears those passengers still must leave the ship only on an approved excursion or if visiting a private port like Half Moon Cay.

In fact, Carnival lists several ports where those older than 12 and without the vaccine are required to stay on the ship:

Some ports require anyone 12 and older to have the vaccine to leave the ship.

A Welcome Change for Many Parents

Having sailed a Carnival cruise with a younger child who was not yet eligible for the vaccine, I can tell you personally that the restrictions to get off the ship only on an approved excursion were burdensome.

Our cruise was right at the start of the return to sailing, but we found the unvaccinated tours limited in number, expensive, and the experience that was drastically different than we were used to.

There were strict masking and distancing rules in place and food was served covered in plastic wrap, making it feel like an airplane meal instead of something made fresh.

And with only being able to leave the ship on an approved tour, it also meant only leaving the ship as a family once during a 7-day cruise simply due to the cost.

Only being able to leave the ship on an approved tour was expensive and there were few options available.

This move by Carnival makes the cruise experience much more “normal” for parents with kids that are either ineligible for the vaccine or who have decided against the shot for their younger children.

Combined with relaxed rules around masking and the CDC’s lifting of a Travel Health Notice for cruises, it’s one more sign that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel for cruising and the health crisis.

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