Cruise Lines’ Workaround to Florida Vaccine Passport Ban Doesn’t Make It Easy for Unvaccinated People

  • Cruise lines seeking to operate from Florida are adhering to the state’s firm passport ban for vaccines.
  • Vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers leaving Florida may have different cruise experiences.
  • Unvaccinated passengers aboard Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruises will face additional costs and restrictions on board.

Cruise lines have found a way around Florida’s firm ban on vaccinated passports, but that doesn’t mean unvaccinated passengers should expect equal treatment on cruises departing from Sunshine State.

In fact, it will be the opposite: Unlike their vaccinated counterparts, unvaccinated guests aboard Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruises in Florida will have to pay for travel insurance and COVID-19 testing, but will still be excluded from certain areas of the ships.

In April, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order prohibiting vaccine passports and Florida businesses from requiring said proof of vaccination. Soon after, the state passed a law officially banning vaccine passports.

Any business violating the ban could be fined $ 5,000 per customer.

Frank Del Rio – president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) – has previously threatened to withdraw Norwegian cruises to Florida if he cannot operate on a vaccine mandate. And this month, NCLH sued the Florida Surgeon General over the law and asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to grant a preliminary injunction against the vaccine passport ban.

But unlike Norwegian, other cruise lines have decided not to impose a vaccine for crossings in Florida, even though the same companies have vaccination requirements for almost all other crossings departing from home ports other than Florida.

This could give unvaccinated passengers a chance to sail, but their experience will be both more expensive and more limited compared to vaccinated guests. This could deter unvaccinated people from browsing, even though the reasons for these disparities relate to health and safety protocols.

A breakdown of additional payments

The Carnival Vista cruise ship.

The Carnival Vista cruise ship.

RHONA WISE / AFP / Getty Images

From August 1 to the end of the year, all unvaccinated Royal Caribbean Florida cruise passengers aged 12 or older will be required to show proof of travel insurance. Insurance must have a minimum of $ 25,000 in coverage for medical expenses and $ 50,000 for “quarantine and medical evacuation related to a positive COVID-19 test result” per person.

In addition to insurance payments, unvaccinated cruisers will also have to pay for COVID-19 tests that vaccinated passengers will not need to take, which is an additional payment of $ 136 or $ 178 depending on the length of the trip. navigation.

Carnival has a similar requirement for its Florida crossings: As of July 31, each unvaccinated passenger aged 12 or older will be required to show proof of travel insurance, which must cover a minimum of $ 10,000 in medical expenses and 30 $ 000 in “emergency medical expenses”. evacuation and without COVID-19 exclusions. “

Unvaccinated Carnival guests who do not present proof of vaccination will not be allowed to board and will not receive a refund. And like Royal Caribbean, Carnival passengers who don’t want jabs will also have to shell out an additional $ 150 for COVID-19 testing and other “health screening measures.”

“In keeping with the practices of other companies which are also restarting operations, and in the best interest of our customers who are not vaccinated, this is an important cover to have if they encounter a medical situation during their cruise.” , Vance Gulliksen, a spokesperson for Carnival, told USA today.

Site restrictions

royal caribbean ship

The Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas docked in Miami in 2008.

Lynne Sladky / AP

Counterintuitively, paying more does not mean exclusive access to the ship. In this case, it is exactly the opposite.

In addition to the additional payments, unvaccinated passengers will not be allowed in certain locations on Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise ships.

After Carnival website, unvaccinated guests may not use the sauna or spa suite, and unvaccinated children and adolescents will not be permitted to participate in the cruise line’s youth camp program.

Unvaccinated friendly zones on Royal Caribbean cruises are dependent on each ship. You can find the complete list of places accessible on its website, but generally, the casinos and certain restaurants, bars, lounges, animations, shows the casinos will be reserved for the vaccinated persons only.

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