In a letter sent to guests booked on an upcoming sailing of Carnival Miracle, Carnival Cruise Line advises that officials in Hawaii may choose to define “fully vaccinated” as including a COVID-19 booster. Guests are urged to get a booster as soon as possible to ensure they meet the 14-day timing guideline to qualify as fully vaccinated before the ship’s first call in Hawaii.
Hawaii Cruise Guests Urged to Get Booster Shot
The pre-cruise update letter from Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy was sent to guests December 27, explaining onboard changes in response to the Omicron variant, including the face mask policy and the temporary ban of smoking in the casino.
The letter went on to note that “while it is still not determined” it is possible that Hawaii officials could define fully vaccinated as any eligible guests having already received a COVID-19 booster. This is in line with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance recommending booster shots for enhanced protection, though the CDC does not yet require a booster shot to meet the definition of fully vaccinated.
Studies have shown that vaccine effectiveness does diminish slightly over time, especially in people age 65 and older, but a booster shot strengthens protection again.
Should the CDC change its recommendation to requiring boosters to remain fully vaccinated, it is highly likely that officials in many ports of call, including Hawaii, will update their visitor guidelines to also require boosters.
The timing of a booster shot is critical, since – just like any vaccine – it takes several days for a booster to become fully effective and provide maximum protection. Carnival’s letter explains:
“It is in your interest to be fully vaccinated – including a booster – 14 days before we make our first stop in Hawaii on January 14. So, if you are eligible for a booster prior to January 9, it would be prudent for you to get one as soon as possible.”
COVID-19 in Hawaii
As is true worldwide, Hawaii has seen a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in recent days, likely due to the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant. To date, the state has recorded more than 104,000 positive cases of COVID-19, with 1,082 recorded deaths.
Throughout the pandemic, Hawaii has implemented some of the strictest mitigation measures possible, including lockdowns, mask mandates, vaccination requirements, pre-arrival testing, and traveler quarantines.
While the state began welcoming air travelers back to the islands earlier this year, no cruise ships have yet visited Hawaii since the industry shutdown began in March 2020. Carnival Miracle‘s most recent cruise to Hawaii, scheduled to depart November 28, 2021, was canceled.
At that time, Carnival Cruise Line brand Ambassador John Heald said, “While the ship is ready and we agreed to all the protocols required by the State, they will not be ready to restart cruising in Hawaii until 2022. I want to assure you that they made every effort to preserve this but, unfortunately, we now have no other choice but to cancel this cruise.”
Carnival Miracle Sailing to Hawaii
Carnival Miracle is scheduled to depart Long Beach, California, on January 9 on a 14-day sailing to Hawaii. The ship will spend the first four days at sea as it sails to the islands, then the next four days are spent island-hopping at popular ports of call – Honolulu, Oahu; Kahului, Maui; Kona, Hawai’i; and Hilo, Hawai’i.
When the ship leaves Hawaii, it will spend another four days at sea before an afternoon and evening stop in Ensenada, Mexico on January 22, returning to Long Beach on January 23.
This long sailing is part of the line’s Carnival Journeys offerings, voyages that are 9+ nights and offer a more immersive, unique experience for travelers, with longer stops in various ports of call to allow for extended exploration and more in-depth shore tours.
On a Carnival Journeys cruise, the ship’s typical entertainment offerings are often supplemented by local performers and musicians in ports of call, and onboard lectures may include detailed offerings about the destination, such as discussions about wildlife, culture, history, or language. Even movies offered through stateroom televisions are often themed for the Journeys destination.
In addition to Hawaii, Carnival offers Journeys sailings in the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, around New Zealand, and Transatlantic crossings.
There is no indication at this time that the January 9 sailing could be canceled, but guests should be prepared for the possibility. When the November 28 sailing was canceled, shorter cruises to other destinations were offered, and guests were offered a Future Cruise Credit and other compensation options.
Guests booked on Carnival Miracle‘s sailing to Hawaii should stay in close contact with Carnival Cruise Line or their travel agent for further updates, and follow all recommended guidance to be prepared for their cruise. Cruise Hive will also continue to provide updates as they become available.