Where the Three Major Cruise Lines Stand on Vaccine Requirements

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Last week British cruise line Saga Cruises announced they would require all guests to be vaccinated before being allowed onboard one of their ships. As a cruise line that caters exclusively to guests 50 years old and over, this can be seen as a reasonable requirement. But what about the three major cruise lines?

Once we finally get back to cruising, will Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line require guests to be vaccinated?

So far, none of them have made any commitments towards a requirement, but that’s not saying the cruise lines are not looking at implementing it. Cruise Hive is ready take a look at what is fast becoming a hot issue for many cruise fans.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line has been pretty clear on the subject so far. It is too early to make any decisions. Both John Heald, Carnival’s brand ambassador, and Donald Arnold, the Carnival Corporation CEO, have commented on the subject in recent days.

Carnival Faster to the Fun Package (FTTF)
Photo: Copyright Cruise Hive

As for Carnival Cruise Line, in particular, John Heald reacted in his own typical style:

“Let me say that I have no idea if the cruise industry will ever require proof of vaccination to sail. And even if this does become the rule, I am sure that there is somewhere in the world a batch of brand new fake immunity certificates ready to roll off the presses.”

Donald Arnold has said the same during the conference call for investors last week. The Carnival Corp. CEO mentioned it is too early for any decisions to be made, citing that distribution has not ramped up to full speed yet.

It seems it will be a while yet before Carnival announces any decisions regarding mandatory vaccinations for its passengers.

Royal Caribbean

The second-largest cruise company, which owns major cruise brands such as Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, has been pretty quiet on the subject.

Docked Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Benjamin Clapp / Shutterstock.com

In an interview with Porthole Cruise magazine, Richard D. Fain mentioned the decision would be made by the healthy sail panel set up by the cruise line, together with Norwegian Cruise Line.

“The purpose of the panel is to advise us on things like that. Exactly how are we going to require it? Are we going to just use it as an adjunct? I think all of that is going to come out reasonably soon. We have the experts, and we’ll let them guide us.”

It seems then that Royal Caribbean is not handling it as a business decision but a health call. It could be that Royal Caribbean decides, if the healthy sail panel says so, that the vaccine will be required onboard, but not decision has yet been made.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Frank Del Rio has been outspoken on the subject of COVID-19 vaccines. He has said he would require crew members to be vaccinated at a minimum, and the company is investigating the legality of requiring guests to be vaccinated.

Del Rio said the following last month:

“It’s too early to tell whether we have the legal standing to mandate that you take a vaccine to come onboard — lawyers are looking at it as we speak. But there is talk beginning to emerge from different corners of the travel industry, the airlines as well, of requiring some kind of immunity passport demonstrating that you’ve had the virus or been vaccinated so that you are good to go.”

For Norwegian Cruise Line, you could expect they would be implementing something of a mandate that requires vaccination, though the situation continues to evolve and their stance could change.

Norwegian Cruise Line Ship Funnel
Photo Credit: ackats / Shutterstock.com

Can a Cruise Line Legally Make Me Get a Vaccine?

Yes, cruise lines likely have legal standing to require guests, and crew, to be vaccinated before they cruise.

Cruise lines would likely be required to offer refunds to anyone that is refused boarding based on a vaccination requirement if the guest had booked their travel before the requirement was made official. This would be something that would likely not sit well with the cruise lines after a full year of having virtually no income during the pandemic shutdown.

Stay tuned in the next few weeks as it could be expected that the cruise lines will be making decisions on the subject soon. These decisions will both give clarity to guests who want to cruise and give people enough time to get a shot if a mandatory vaccination requirement does come into play for future cruise vacations.

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