Do you have to be vaccinated to go on a cruise? The short answer is it depends.
The long answer is that vaccine requirements vary by cruise line, cruise ship, and departure port/destination. Currently, due to the rise of the Omicron variant and new restrictions by ports of call, the majority of U.S.-based cruise ships are allowing unvaccinated travelers onboard only if they are too young to be vaccinated or have medical or religious exemptions.
Many U.S.-based cruise lines restarted cruises with mainly vaccinated guests, and the vaccination requirement remains in place for these lines. Some lines have even begun requiring children be vaccinated, such as Disney Cruise Line. Royal Caribbean, on the other hand, allows unvaccinated kids on their ships. However, lines that planned to welcome unvaccinated adults have had to get stricter about vaccine requirements to adhere to new government policies.
Here’s the current list of cruise lines that do not require Covid vaccines to sail, for travelers who cannot or choose not to get the shot.
UPDATED: February 17, 2022
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line requires all guests 12 and older to be fully vaccinated and present proof of vaccination.
Cruisers ages 3 through 11 must provide negative Covid test results from a PCR test taken within 72 hours of sailing and take an antigen test at the cruise terminal on embarkation day at their family's expense. The cost is $75 per person for this test at the terminal.
If guests are unable to provide a PCR test, one can be done at the port. The cost of this is $150 per person non-refundable and will be charged to their onboard account.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line's original policy was that unvaccinated travelers should get tested at least three days before their trip, as well as after. The cruise line recommends all unvaccinated travelers self quarantine for a week after travel.
In addition, the Bahamas requires Cruise & Stay and one-way travelers to Freeport to present a Bahamas Health Travel Visa.
Carnival is currently sticking with the CDC guidance of sailing with 95 percent of passengers vaccinated. However, the line will provide vaccine exemptions to children under 12 and adults who are not able to receive the vaccine to fill 5 percent of available berths. On cruises out of Long Beach and select fall sailings, Carnival will extend vaccine exemptions to travelers with religious beliefs that prevent them from getting vaccinated.
Unvaccinated passengers who wish to sail will need to be pre-approved during the booking process. The exemptions are not guaranteed and are capacity controlled. These guests will be required to follow specific health protocols and testing requirements, including providing a negative PCR test result at the port, taking an additional antigen test at embarkation and again 24 hours before the cruise ends, and only going ashore in controlled-environment "bubble" tours.
Cruisers departing from Florida and Texas who are not vaccinated must purchase travel insurance for their sailing. Unvaccinated guests sailing from those states, as well as Maryland and Louisiana, who cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons must provide a doctor's note confirming the medical exemption.
These policies will be in place until further notice.
Most Celebrity cruises will sail with at least 95 percent of passengers vaccinated; the remaining 5 percent can be unvaccinated and will mainly be children. U.S. travelers ages 12 and older must be vaccinated to sail. Celebrity will not accept certificates of recovery from unvaccinated travelers who have recovered from a Covid-19 infection.
Celebrity "highly recommends" all guests 5 and up to be vaccinated, but it is not required.
Covid-19 Booster Vaccine shots are not currently required to sail on Celebrity Cruises.
Travelers who are not vaccinated will need to follow a separate set of rules than their vaccinated shipmates. These include:
- Additional Covid testing before and during your cruise, at your own expense
- Masks required onboard in public areas, except when dining or drinking
- Shore excursions must be purchased through cruise line, not a third-party provider; unvaccinated travelers cannot go ashore independently
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line requires that all vaccine-eligible guests (ages 5 and older) be fully vaccinated in order to cruise, including children.
Unvaccinated children 4 and under must take a NAAT or PCR test prior to embarkation, as well as a rapid test at the pier. All results must be negative in order to be allowed onboard.
All Disney passengers, regardless of vaccination status, must wear masks indoors, but can remove them when outdoors.
All passengers 12 and older must be fully vaccinated in order to cruise with MSC Cruises at the time of embarkation.
Children under the age of 12 that are unvaccinated are allowed to sail with MSC, but are required to provide a negative RT-PCR test taken no more than 3 days prior to ship embarkation.
Unvaccinated kids will undergo an additional COVID-19 test at the terminal prior to embarkation provided by MSC Cruises, free of charge. The only exception is that no pre-embarkation or embarkation testing is required for guests under 2 years of age.
For sailings departing from U.S. homeports, all passengers ages 12 and older must have received the Covid shot.
Children under the age of 12 are allowed onboard if they are unvaccinated.
Unvaccinated guests of any age will be subjected to additional testing and health and safety protocols. The current requirements for U.S.-based cruises include:
- Unvaccinated children (ages 2+) must show a negative result for a PCR or antigen test taken up to three days before boarding, and take a complimentary antigen test at the terminal and before the cruise ends.
- Select public areas will offer exclusive access to vaccinated guests (though kids shouldn't miss the casino or spa too much), including separate areas in the dining room for parties with unvaccinated travelers
- Families traveling with unvaccinated kids must purchase Royal Caribbean tours in order to go ashore in port (Perfect Day at CocoCay & Labadee is an exception)
Will cruise lines drop their vaccine requirement?
While most cruise lines require adults to be vaccinated right now, unvaccinated readers want to know when the vaccine mandate may go away.
There is no definitive answer as to when a vaccine requirement to go on a cruise ship may go away, but at the very least it stands to reason not until the public health emergency ends. As long as Covid-19 remains a pandemic, it seems unlikely cruise lines will change protocols.
As the threat of Covid-19 begins to diminish, there is a possibility cruise lines may relax health protocols, including allowing unvaccinated people to go on a cruise ship.
For now, none of the cruise lines that have a vaccine requirement have announced any plans to rescind that rule in the future.