The first Carnival cruise is now confirmed by the cruise line to sail this summer, but there will be a major change that many weren’t expecting.
This morning Carnival announced it is moving forward with planned sailings in July for both Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze. Vista is slated to sail on July 3 from Galveston, with Breeze returning July 15. That means it’s official that the Port of Galveston will be home to the first Carnival sailings from the U.S. since the pandemic began.
Carnival also plans to sail Horizon from Miami in July, but said it is working with Florida and CDC officials to figure out the details of those sailings. Carnival Miracle is also slated for July 27, sailing to Alaska from Seattle.
While it’s exciting news that Carnival’s return comes in less than a month, there was an important caveat dropped by the cruise line in the announcement. These initial sailings will be only for vaccinated guests (including kids).
“We appreciate the progress and support for our U.S. restart from the CDC and other key federal agencies; however, the current CDC requirements for cruising with a guest base that is unvaccinated will make it very difficult to deliver the experience our guests expect, especially given the large number of families with younger children who sail with us. As a result, our alternative is to operate our ships from the U.S. during the month of July with vaccinated guests,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.
While Carnival had already said passengers on cruises from Alaska will require the vaccine, no mandate had been put in place for other U.S. sailings.
In fact, a recent list from the CDC showed that two Carnival ships (Vista and Horizon) had reportedly been approved for volunteer test cruises, implying that both vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers would be able to sail. Carnival, however, never made any announcement about the test sailings.
Updated chart from CDC of approved test cruises (simulated voyages) and revenue cruises (restricted voyages).
We now have 3 for PortMiami: Freedom of the Seas, Carnival Horizon, Symphony of the Seas pic.twitter.com/Enu1EyDHyR
— Taylor Dolven (@taydolven) June 3, 2021
With this new vaccine requirement, it means families with smaller kids won’t be able to sail on these cruises just yet since children under 12 are not eligible for vaccination. This is something that Duffy warned about during a recent interview with NBC News.
According to the requirement from Carnival, guests must have the final dose of a “CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise and have proof of vaccination” in order to sail.
For Carnival fans that are fully vaccinated, this confirmation of a return is great news and a sign of a return to sailing. For the families with kids that had planned to sail the line in July, it’s another curveball thrown in the rocky return of U.S. cruises.