Carnival Cruise Line Updates Protocols for Going Ashore

Carnival Cruise Line eases restrictions for unvaccinated guests going ashore, but what does that mean for cruise vacations?

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Carnival Cruise Line has changed its shore excursion policy to permit unvaccinated guests of any age to explore ashore freely, without the need to purchase a tour.

This comes as vaccinations are becoming more widely available and just recently approved in the U.S. for children under 5 years old, as well as different destinations gradually easing their travel restrictions.

Unvaccinated Guests Can Freely Go Ashore

In a message sent to travel partners as well as changes to its Have Fun. Be Safe. protocols, Carnival Cruise Line has dropped its requirement that unvaccinated guests only book shore tours or else remain on board in ports of call.

The message reads, “as protocols continue to evolve, we are now pleased to share that except where specified below, unvaccinated guests are permitted to go ashore to enjoy one of our tours or independent sightseeing, regardless of vaccination status.”

Carnival Letter

This means that guests who have received vaccination exemptions (which are approved on a ship-by-ship basis depending on capacity and destination requirements) may now choose to arrange independent shore tours not offered by Carnival or simply debark the ship to explore on their own for shopping, dining, relaxing at the beach, or strolling through destinations.

Previously, Carnival’s protocols stated that unvaccinated guests age 12 and older “cannot visit ports of call on their own and may only go ashore if booked on a Carnival shore excursion.”

Not Universal in All Destinations

Unvaccinated travelers should note, however, that the message does state “except where specified below” and that not all popular cruise ports are yet permitting unvaccinated visitors.

Currently, the following ports of call still prohibit visits by unvaccinated guests:

  • San Juan, Puerto Rico – age 12 and older
  • Bonaire – age 12 and older
  • Grand Cayman – age 12 and older
  • St. Kitts – age 12 and older
  • Tortola – age 12 and older
  • Grand Turk – age 16 and older
  • Cartagena, Colombia – age 18 and older

In all ports of call, unvaccinated young cruisers (under age 12) may still go ashore when accompanied by vaccinated parents or guardians. In Grand Turk, unvaccinated guests under age 16 may go ashore, while in Cartagena, unvaccinated guests under age 18 are still permitted to visit.

Carnival Conquest Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock

Carnival Cruise Line does note, however, that this list may change. Should different destinations revise their own vaccination protocols, it is possible that new restrictions could be added.

At this time, all other protocols for unvaccinated guests remain in place. This includes applying for the vaccine exemption, taking a pre-cruise COVID-19 test within the prescribed time period, and showing proof of travel insurance depending on the ship’s departure port.

Will Changes Continue?

These changes are a welcome step for enthusiastic cruisers who may not be medically able to be vaccinated or who choose, for a variety of reasons, not to be vaccinated. While not a complete lifting of restrictions, it does make travel easier and gives unvaccinated guests more options for thoroughly enjoying their cruise vacation.

It is also possible that this is one further step toward a return to pre-pandemic travel conditions.

This new change follows after Carnival Cruise Line no longer requires unvaccinated guests sailing to the Caribbean to present a doctor’s note to certify a medical vaccine exemption.

Carnival Dream Cruise Ship
Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive

Other recent changes include P&O Cruises limited trial of eliminating pre-cruise tests aboard Iona as well as Celebrity Cruises easing some vaccination requirements in Europe.

With the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now reevaluating pre-cruise testing requirements – after having eliminated such testing for international air travel into the United States – it is possible that even more changes may soon be applied to cruise travel.

Stay tuned to Cruise Hive for updates on all cruise travel, including changes in COVID-19 travel restrictions and requirements. Travelers should also stay in contact with their cruise line for updates and changing guidelines for booked cruises.

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