Following the approval from the FDA and the CDC for kids aged 5-11 to be vaccinated, Carnival Cruise Line sent a letter to guests booked on cruises during the festive season about changes to the exemption policy, as well limitations in place for those exemptions.
With the surge of requests the cruise line has had for vaccine exemptions, and the fact only a very small number of exemption spaces are available on each sailing, guests run the risk of missing their cruise if the kids are not allowed onboard.
Exemption Requests Exceed Space
The letter the cruise line sent out has been addressed specifically to those passengers with bookings for cruises between December 17 and December 31, 2021, and who have not yet received an approved vaccine exemption.
Although the FDA and CDC have now approved Pfizer vaccinations for children, the cruise line is receiving far more requests for exemptions than it is able to provide space onboard.
This is why Carnival is advising guests to consider having their kids vaccinated this week, otherwise, it might be too late to make the cruise:
“While the decision to vaccinate your children is obviously a personal one, if you are intent on cruising and want to guarantee that your family traveling with children ages 5-11 will be able to sail, we encourage you to look at your vaccination options. To meet the definition of fully vaccinated for embarkations December 17 the first dose of the vaccine will need to be administered this week (factoring in the interval between shots, and the two weeks following the final dose to meet the definition of fully vaccinated).“
Worth Reading: Which Carnival Cruise Ships Have Resumed Operations?
Carnival Tightens Exemption Protocols
For all sailings until the end of the year, guests must prove that they have a medical condition that prohibits vaccination from a medical professional to be considered for an exemption.
The cruise line’s policy states: “Vaccine exemptions for cruises to the Caribbean will be limited to a very small number of children under 12, and teens and adults with a medical condition who can provide written confirmation from their medical provider that they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.”
With increased vaccine requirements in the Caribbean, the cruise line has no choice but to tighten exemption requirements. Over the last few weeks, several Caribbean cruise ports have followed the Bahamian example and made vaccinations mandatory for all passengers over 12 years of age.
Cruise lines calling on any Bahamian port must be able to confirm that all guests are fully vaccinated, with exemptions only for those with a medical condition that prohibits vaccination:
“Given the number of itineraries that include multiple destinations throughout the Caribbean and, in particular, in The Bahamas, and the need for us from time to time to adjust itineraries due to medical, technical, or weather emergencies, we will now operate all sailings under this requirement.“
Previously Granted Exemptions Are No Longer Valid
Exemptions that Carnival had previously granted under the old regulations have been withdrawn. This means that guests above 12 years of age, who cannot provide proof of a medical condition that makes vaccination impossible, will not be able to cruise.
Carnival Cruise Line says as part of its FAQ section on the Have. Fun Be Safe protocols, “Unfortunately, all other vaccine exemptions previously granted for upcoming sailings cannot be fulfilled due to these new limitations. If you have already received an exemption approval for anyone in your party that does not meet the requirements of these two categories (under 12 or proven medical condition that prohibits vaccination), that exemption is no longer valid.”
This policy is for all sailings from Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Maryland until December 31, 2021. While exceptions will be available for kids under 12 years old, this will be minimal.
Carnival says that exemptions for children and adults are not guaranteed and are capacity-controlled based on the total number of vaccinated guests projected to be on board. With the huge number of kids sailing over the holiday period, it seems unlikely many spots will be available.
Some cruises operate under slightly different protocols. This is for Carnival Pride’s sailing on October 31, 2021, from Baltimore; Carnival Glory sailing on November 28, 2021, from New Orleans; and Carnival Miracle sailing on November 28, 2021, from Long Beach, California.
For these cruises, vaccine exemptions will only be accommodated as required by law. For sailings through from January 1 until February 28, 2022, exceptions are not granted at all at this time.