Disney Cruise Lines just announced new vaccine requirements for passengers that will go into effect in January
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is now approved for kids and adults ages 5 and up, and it’s been a joyous few weeks as younger children are finally eligible and beginning to get their shots. With that approval, though, comes big news for families planning to finally take a vacation: Disney Cruise Lines will require all passengers ages 5 and up to be fully vaccinated beginning in January 2022.
The updated immunization policy goes into effect on January 13 and will apply to cruise sailings both in the U.S. and internationally. Until Jan. 13, passengers who are between ages 5 and 11 and not vaccinated yet will be allowed to board Disney cruise ships if they test negative for the virus. The current policy requires all staff and all passengers ages 12 and up to be fully vaccinated prior to departure.
While Disney is the first major cruise line to announce a vaccine mandate for young children, it’s certainly not the first to require all eligible passengers to be fully vaccinated. Most cruise lines have required all passengers 12 and up to be fully vaccinated for some time now, and on some cruise lines, kids haven’t been allowed or have only been accepted in limited numbers because of company policies that say 95 percent of passengers must be fully vaccinated.
With Disney leading the charge, there’s no doubt that other major cruise lines will update their vaccine policies soon. But Richard Fain, CEO of Royal Caribbean, told reporters that his company hasn’t made any decisions or announcements just yet.
“I think we’re moving in the direction where every cruise will have 100 percent of the crew vaccinated and 95 or more percent of the guests,” he said at a recent press event onboard Odyssey of the Seas.
Norwegian Cruise Line, one of the companies with the most stringent vaccine requirements for passengers, has barred ineligible children from sailing on its ships because they can’t yet be vaccinated. It recently announced that it expects those rules to be extended “indefinitely,” but that children ages 5 and up will be welcome aboard once they’re fully vaccinated.
And Holland American Line is using new vaccine rules as an incentive to try to attract families to book trips on its ships. It recently announced an offer for fully vaccinated kids, ages 5 to 17, to sail for free as a third or fourth guest in their family’s stateroom.
“Now that kids ages 5 and older can receive the Covid-19 vaccine, getting out and seeing the world is on everyone’s mind,” Hollan America Line’s president said.