Carnival Cruise Line has adjusted its health and safety protocols regarding unvaccinated passengers and the documentation requirements they need prior to sailing.
As of June 15, 2022, passengers sailing to the Caribbean who are seeking a medical exception from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement do not need to present a doctor’s note to certify their medical exemption.
Documentation Requirements Easing
As different COVID-19 travel restrictions and guidelines continue to be slowly eased in different regions, Carnival Cruise Line is now permitting guests who are medically unable to be vaccinated to set sail without presenting a doctor’s note at embarkation to stipulate to their medical exemption.
In a letter sent to travel partners, the cruise line stated: “As we continue to work with our destination partners, protocols continue to evolve and we are pleased to share that your clients are no longer required to provide a doctor’s note at embarkation on cruises going to the Caribbean.”
This is just a small step, but does help with pre-cruise planning for those guests who cannot medically be vaccinated, as they no longer need to be sure they have the proper form letter with the pertinent information.
The letter goes on to clarify, “All other requirements for unvaccinated guests remain in place.”
This means that unvaccinated guests will still need to file for an exemption for their specific sailing, as well as complete the pre-cruise and embarkation day COVID-19 testing and the testing onboard prior to debarkation.
Vaccination exemptions are not guaranteed, and may be approved starting 90 days prior to sailing in the order in which they are received. Because of capacity limits related to how many unvaccinated guests are permitted on individual sailings, not all exemptions will be approved.
If a guest is not approved for an exemption, they have the option to move to a future sailing date or obtain a full refund, but they are responsible for any associated non-refundable costs such as airfare, pre- or post-cruise accommodations, privately arranged shore tours, etc.
What About Other Destinations?
It is important to note that this change is only applicable to sailings in the Caribbean, and does not impact sailings in Europe, Alaska, or other destinations.
Caribbean sailings – including popular ports such as The Bahamas, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Grand Turk, and Cozumel – are very busy during the summer season, particularly in June and July when schools are on vacation and more families are cruising.
Protocols Continue to Evolve
Dropping the doctor’s note requirement for unvaccinated guests is a small step toward returning to pre-pandemic cruising protocols, but it is in line with other small changes occurring throughout the cruising word and travel industry in general.
This week, Canada removed its vaccine mandate for air travel on both domestic and inbound international flights, and several days ago, the United States dropped its testing requirement for air travelers entering the country. While these changes do not directly impact cruises, it is now easier for travelers to reach cruise ports.
Small changes are also coming within cruise travel. Celebrity Cruises has dropped its vaccination requirement for passengers under 18 years old on European sailings, easing family travel for Mediterranean and other European cruises this summer.
Viking has ended its pre-cruise testing requirement if destination ports do not require the tests. While this only impacts a small number of cruises on two vessels at the moment, it does pave the way for future changes to be implemented.
Princess Cruises is also poised to restart sailing in Australia for the first time in more than two years, following P&O Australia’s successful restart down under at the end of May. While COVID-19 protocols remain firmly in place for those voyages, reopening the region to eager travelers is another move toward pre-pandemic cruise travel.
All of these are encouraging steps, but travelers should always remain vigilant and informed about changing protocols, which may be adapted at any time as situations change in different regions and ports of call.