Several major cruise lines have indicated that they will be welcoming young kids back on board sooner rather than later. While it is technically possible for children under the age of 12 to sail right now with the most cruise lines, there is a whole list of testing requirements that need to be fulfilled—something which is putting families off cruising right now.
Whether or not it does happen depends on the FDA approving Pfizer’s research into vaccinating children, something expected to happen later this month.
Vaccine producer Pfizer submitted research to the FDA a short time ago, which will enable children between the ages of 5-11 years old to be vaccinated. The wait now is for the Food and Drug Administration to approve the research the company has done.
Results are expected to be released during a meeting on October 26. Kids will then be able to start being vaccinated before Halloween. It also means kids in this age bracket will be fully vaccinated by Christmas, which is traditionally one of the busiest periods for the cruise industry and one when many families with kids go on a cruise.
When the results are published and use is approved for kids, the vaccines will be under an emergency use authorization only, is the expectation.
One cruise line which will surely welcome positive news from the FDA is Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. At this time, the cruise company does not allow any children or adults on board who have not been fully vaccinated at least 14 days before the start of the cruise. Approval from the FDA will mean the cruise line can welcome families back on board once again for the Holiday season.
Norwegian Cruise Line President and CEO Frank Del Rio told CNBC the cruise line is currently losing passengers due to the strict sailing requirements the cruise line has implemented. However, he feels it has a competitive edge over other cruise lines due to NCL’s ships’ protocols.
“Are we missing some customers? Possibly,” Del Rio said. “But today, we believe that our mandate is a competitive advantage.”
With the company planning to have its entire fleet of 28 ships operational by April 2022, being able to sail those ships at full capacity and with families with children onboard will be a significant stepping stone for the company.
Carnival’s president Christine Duffy voiced similar words about vaccinations for children in an update this week, saying the cruise line is hopeful vaccines will be approved for children soon, so the cruise line will be able to welcome kids back on board again.
“We are optimistic that vaccines will be approved for children between the ages of 5-11 before the end of the year and we look forward to welcoming more families back on board.”
The cruise line has always been a family orientated company. For many families, the current testing requirements are most definitely a hindrance. Children need to produce a negative PCR-RT test taken three days before the cruise upon arrival in the terminal and another test before boarding. On longer cruises, one more test is done before the end of the cruise.
So far, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line will be opening up their ships to 5- to 11-year-old children if they can be fully vaccinated. This still leaves the testing requirements for 3- and 4-year old children, something many hope will be waived by the cruise lines and the CDC.
One cruise line which will not be too worried about the vaccine requirements for kids is Virgin Voyages; the adults-only cruise line which started operations from Miami this week.