Some cruise lines are sticking to required vaccines for passengers, despite Royal Caribbean reversal

A Carnival cruise ship is docked at PortMiami, one of five Florida seaports where cruiselines operate. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Following a reversal from Royal Caribbean International on COVID-19 safety measures, two other major cruise lines are still requiring vaccines for its passengers to set sail on cruise ships as early as this summer.

Both Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line have ports in Florida and are following the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to require people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to take a cruise vacation.

Florida is still embroiled in its lawsuit, continuing this week, that includes defendants CDC, and the U.S. Health and Human Service. Other states, such as Alaska and Texas, have gotten involved.

Carnival Cruise Line plans to resume its cruise operations in early July but cruises will only be available to travelers who have been vaccinated, said company spokesman Vance Gulliksen in an email Monday to the Florida Phoenix.

In addition, Carnival put out a press release Monday, saying trips are permitted only to guests who have received their final “dose of a CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise and have proof of vaccination.”

Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a written statement:

“We appreciate the progress and support for our U.S. restart from the CDC and other key federal agencies; however, the current CDC requirements for cruising with a guest base that is unvaccinated will make it very difficult to deliver the experience our guests expect, especially given the large number of families with younger children who sail with us. As a result, our alternative is to operate our ships from the U.S. during the month of July with vaccinated guests.”

In a Monday announcement, Norwegian also said its passengers and crew members must be fully vaccinated against COVID, as cruise ships from Miami ports are set to launch in August. In a press release, the company added that “all guests and crew must be fully vaccinated, at least 2 weeks prior to departure, in order to board.”

Some health officials and potential passengers feel that vaccines will help safely reopen the cruise industry that has been shuttered amid the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean International announced plans Friday to kick off cruises in early July in Miami without passengers being required to prove vaccine status but “are strongly recommended to set sail fully vaccinated,” according to a press release.

However, the company added that vaccines among crew members will be required. For those who haven’t been vaccinated, they “will be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols, which will be announced at a later date.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed into law a ban on businesses requiring vaccine passports. While the Republican governor has been in support of reopening Florida’s cruise industry, he’s against vaccine requirements – a key element by the CDC for safely resuming the industry.