Just days ago, Carnival Cruise Line confirmed its plan to return to sailing, with the first sailing departing Galveston aboard Carnival Vista on July 3. But to meet that date, the cruise line also made a move that was unexpected. They announced that the first cruises would sail with vaccinated passengers.
Given Carnival’s reputation as a family-friendly line, having the ship sail with vaccines required is surprising. It essentially means that many kids can’t sail since they are not eligible for the vaccine at this time. However, Carnival did say that they will allow a small number of kids to sail unvaccinated.
“Your cruise will operate with at least 95% of guests who will have had their final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise,” a letter to Vista passengers stated. “Guests will be required to present proof of vaccination at time of check-in.”
“The CDC’s guidelines for operating a highly vaccinated cruise provide the ability to accommodate a small number of unvaccinated guests (children under 12 who cannot be vaccinated and exemptions as required by federal law) on restricted voyages, based on the total number of vaccinated guests on board. We plan to accommodate a small number of exemptions, as allowed.”
Carnival then offered a link for passengers wanting to sail with kids to express their interest. It’s not clear how the line will select the unvaccinated passengers allowed to sail. The letter also noted that testing and mask requirements will be in place for any unvaccinated passengers if they are granted an exemption.
The CDC allows ships sailing with at least 95% of passengers vaccinated to skip simulated test voyages before sailing with paid passengers. This rule allows ships to get back to sailing faster and with fewer hurdles.
Proof of Vaccination a Question in Texas
While Carnival says they will allow some unvaccinated passengers to sail, the vast majority will require the shot and have to show proof at the port.
As we explained earlier, this could cause some issues. Florida passed a law weeks ago that prohibits businesses from requiring proof of vaccination from customers. The day that Carnival announced it would require proof of the shot from its passengers, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a similar law in his state.
Texas is open 100%.
Texans should have the freedom to go where they want without any limits, restrictions, or requirements.
Today, I signed a law that prohibits any TX business or gov’t entity from requiring vaccine passports or any vaccine information. pic.twitter.com/JQXOe4cHgY
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) June 7, 2021
While the law does outlaw so-called “vaccine passports,” it still isn’t clear if it will impact Carnival’s operations. The penalty for violating the rule is being ineligible for state grants or funds, something which doesn’t seem applicable to cruise lines.
In addition, the law also says that state agencies “may require compliance as a condition for license, permit, or other state authorization” needed to conduct business. This may cause a bigger issue.
As for Carnival, they continue to push with vaccinated cruises, even adding a special section to their website laying out the Texas protocols for July 2021.
The alternative for Carnival if they can’t require proof of a shot is to take a slower route back, which means sailing a simulated test cruise and then allowing both vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers (in any numbers) to sail.