Disney Cruise Lines is the latest to join the growing trend of cruise ship operators requiring passengers who will be departing Florida to be vaccinated, a newly formed group that had already included Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International.
What sparked these moves was the Bahamas declaring that, starting on Sept. 3, it would not allow any cruise ships to enter its ports, including those on private islands, if their passengers were not vaccinated with few exceptions. Excepted passengers include those who have not yet reached 12 years of age and those who cannot be vaccinated for medically related reasons.
Disney stated that its passengers must upload their vaccination cards to its Safe Passage by Inspire website at least 24 hours prior to their ship’s departure. In addition, they will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result connected with one that was taken between 24 hours and five days prior to sailing and another one at the terminal just prior to boarding.
That Bahamian order will run through at least Nov. 1. However, note that some cruise ship operators are adhering to earlier start date. For example, Carnival is requiring this to be followed for cruises departing as soon as Saturday.
These are the latest moves in a legal battle between cruise line operators and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who, earlier this year, signed into law legislation that did not allow cruise ships to require passengers to be vaccinated, threatening $5,000 fines per instance.
However, earlier in August, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams granted a preliminary injunction in favor of Norwegian Cruise Line against that law. The state is appealing the decision.
Although that injunction only applies to Norwegian, Christina Pushaw, the governor’s press secretary, stated that no operators will be fined until the state’s appeal has been decided on.
Even prior to these latest developments, cruise ships were safe places to be. According to Royal Caribbean International CEO and President Michael Bayley, just one or two passengers have tested positive while on week-long cruises amongst 1,000+ people, and those who do generally experience no to minor symptoms.