The Bahamian government announced an extension to the country’s vaccination mandate for cruise ships seeing entry to the Bahamas. The extension is set to remain until 2022 from November 1, 2021, which is when the current order ends.
The Bahamas was one of the first cruise destinations to implement the mandate for cruise ships earlier this year, which caused several cruise lines to change their onboard policies from COVID-19 vaccine optional to COVID-19 vaccine mandatory.
The Bahamian government seeks to instill much-needed confidence for tourists to travel to the Bahamas by cruise ship. As most cruise lines are already sailing with a large majority, or all guests, fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the extension will not cause much interference.
Tourism, Investments, and Aviation Minister Chester Cooper said this: “We are taking action to extend that until 2022. We will be looking at it closely moving forward. We are actively in conversations with our various cruise partners. As you know, we welcomed Virgin Voyages cruises last week, a new ship to our shores, but we believe vaccination is the right approach to attract tourists to our shores in a balanced and responsible way.
The Bahamas government vaccination mandate requires all cruise passengers aged 12 and older to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Although crew, contractors, and any non-revenue passengers previously agreed upon between the government and cruise lines do not have to abide by the rule. The previous order took effect on September 3, 2021, and was due to expire on November 1, 2021.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended the Conditional Sail Order, meaning the existing policies will remain in place until January 15, 2022; there is, therefore, little reason for The Bahamas to abolish any of their policies:
Minister Chester Cooper: “We note that mostly in the US market, vaccinations are in the high 60 to low 70 percent. We know that our cruise passengers who come to The Bahamas because of this rule are vaccinated. It’s good for The Bahamas, it’s good for the tourism industry and as we extend this rule, we believe it will help us even further grow the tourism business in a balanced way.”
The vaccine mandate is in place for cruise ships visiting the Bahamas. However, for those embarking on a ship in the Bahamas, guests must follow slightly different procedures than they would if embarking in the United States.
Those traveling to The Bahamas from other countries who have been fully vaccinated are required to get a negative COVID-19 test (either a Rapid Antigen Test or PCR); taken no more than five days before the date of arrival to The Bahamas.
Unvaccinated travelers ages 12 and older entering The Bahamas must obtain a negative COVID-19 PCR swab test taken no more than five days before the date of arrival. For children aged 2-11 years old, a rapid Antigen test is also accepted. Infants up to two years old are exempt from any testing requirements.
Once the tests have been done, they must be uploaded to the government website when applying for the Bahamas Travel Health Visa; vaccinated guests should also upload their vaccine cards.
At this time, the Bahamas Government will only accept vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca, or mixes of these. Guests will also need to opt-in to the Bahamas Travel Health Visa COVID-19 health insurance that covers them for the duration of their stay in The Bahamas. The cost of insurance is included in the Bahamas Travel Health Visa application fee. At this time, only Crystal Cruises is operating cruises from The Bahamas.