Disney Cruise Line will begin its journey mandating proof of vaccination for cruises to the Bahamas from next month. It is the first time that the cruise will require jab for cruises in the United States. From September Disney will require all the passengers, aged 12 and older, to get full vaccination at least 14 days before the cruise is headed towards the Bahamas, including the company’s private island, Castaway Cay.
The New Guidelines
Children below the age of 12 will be allowed to board without the vaccine and armed with the proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken recently, read five days and 24 hours before the departure date. That’s not all, they would also need to provide a second PCR test taken at the terminal right before boarding.
The updated protocols came to the fore after the Bahamas started implementing a vaccine policy that requires all the cruise passengers 12 and more years older to show proof that they are fully vaccinated before going on board and visiting, on a cruise line’s private island. The crew who have children under 12 or anyone who cannot get the Covid-19 vaccine because of a certain health condition are exempted from the rule.
Change of Protocol
This is the first time that Disney has asked for proof of vaccination for a U.S.-based cruise from its passengers. Previously, the company had asked the unvaccinated guests to board.
However, Disney said that any guest who was able to get proof of vaccination will not require pre-departure testing or insurance requirements. The company did ask for proof of vaccination for its planned sailings from the United Kingdom for passengers who were 18 and older.
The Other Cruise Liners Joining the Bandwagon
Disney resumed its sailing from Port Canaveral, Fla, offering 3- and 4-night journeys towards the private island in the Bahamas. Disney is not one of the only companies that are updating its vaccination policy for cruising ships to the Bahamas. For instance, there is Carnival Cruise Line also strengthening its vaccination protocols and will require the unvaccinated guests setting sail for Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, or Maryland-based ship to provide a certificate by the doctor ahead of a cruise.
Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises plan to provide vaccines for guests 12 and older who make the journey to the Bahamas. Previously, Royal Caribbean needed people 12 and older to show the vaccination proof before boarding all the cruises except leaving out of Florida, and MSC may not require the passengers leaving from the U.S. to show that they were vaccinated.
What it Means for the Passengers
Don’t think you can run about and get vaccinated today if your cruise leaves post the month of September. As per the CDC, you can get fully vaccinated in 14 days after getting the final dose has been received, so you’ll have to plan accordingly. After you’re fully vaccinated, you have to upload your vaccination card as per the Safe Passage by Inspire website 24 hours before your scheduled sail date.
If you plan to get vaccinated or can’t provide the proof by the time you are about to set sail, you cannot board the ship. As an alternative, Disney is offering the guests the option of changing their sail dates or canceling the trip minus the cancellation fees, as long as you can round it off by September 3.
Disney Cruise Line currently has only one ship that is active in the U.S. with Disney Dream, 3- and 4-night sailings from Port Canaveral and stopping at private Bahamas island Castaway Cay. There are plans to also add Disney Fantasy from September 11 on short sailings which can stop at Castaway Cay. Disney Magic sailings that are listed on the company’s website from Miami in October may also be affected as per the new protocol.
Much like the other cruise lines, Disney is trying to offer passengers impacted by the policy change to alter their sail dates or get refunds without any penalty.
The cruise industry was forced to shut down in March 2020 as the covid-19 pandemic gripped the world. Cruise lines limped back to sailing from U.S. ports in June, and now 14 ships are going for regular voyages from the three major ports in Florida, and several more to begin their journeys in the following months.