On Tuesday Disney Cruise Lines became the latest cruise company to announce it would defy Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ ban on COVID-19 vaccine passports and require passengers to provide vaccine proof in order to comply with a new order in the Bahamas.
Disney Cruise Line announced it will require all cruise ship passengers ages 12 and older to be fully vaccinated in order to get on a Disney ship headed for the Bahamas, starting with the Sept. 3 cruise of the Disney Dream out of Port Canaveral.
Disney became at least the fourth cruise line to announce it would adhere to the Bahamas’ order, signed last Thursday; and not to Florida’s, signed in May. At the moment, there are only four major cruise lines booking cruises from Florida to the Bahamas in September or October, the two months affected under the Bahamas order.
The Bahamas’ emergency order, posted Thursday on the commonwealth’s Customs and Excise Department‘s website, essentially blocks cruise ships from Florida unless they provide proof that everyone onboard who is eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations has had their shots. The order runs through Nov. 1.
It came in recognition of the dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases this summer, particularly in Florida.
The Bahamas’ order also applies to private islands that have been leased, developed, and operated by cruise lines as private resorts.
The order forced cruise lines into a dilemma — either complying with the Bahamas so that they could enter ports, in defiance of DeSantis’ order, or complying with with DeSantis‘ executive order banning “vaccine passports”, but getting banned from the Bahamas’ ports.
The industry, which has been largely displeased with DeSantis’ order — Norwegian Cruise Line sued Florida in federal court — reacted swiftly, in favor of the Bahamas’ order.
On Thursday, the same day Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis signed the order, Miami-based Royal Caribbean International announced on its website that “guests who are 12 years of age and older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This includes cruises departing from Florida and visiting The Bahamas on and after Sept. 3.”
That same day, MSC Cruises announced it would comply with the Bahamas. That company stated on its website, “MSC Cruises will now be requiring all guests 12 years and older to be fully vaccinated on all sailings beginning September 3, 2021, through and including sailings of October 31, 2021, departing from Port Miami and Port Canaveral.”
Carnival Cruise Line announced its change in policy Sunday. That Miami-based company declared on its website that “effective Aug. 28 through October, for departures from all Atlantic and Gulf homeports, only children under 12 and adults with a medical condition that prohibits their vaccination are exempt from vaccination requirements to sail.”
Disney, based in Celebration, issued its new policy Tuesday.
“Beginning September 3 until November 1, 2021, The Bahamas will require that all cruise ship passengers ages 12 and older be fully vaccinated in order for a ship to be allowed entry into any of its cruise ports, including private islands like Disney Castaway Cay,” Disney advises its guests on the cruise line’s website. “To comply with this new requirement, all Guests ages 12 and older on upcoming sailings must be fully vaccinated to board the ship.”
Disney’s policy clarifies that guests must be fully vaccinated, meaning they have received two shots of Moderna, Pfizer or AstraZeneca’s vaccine, or one of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and have waited 14 days after the final shot before boarding the ship.
“Guests who choose not to provide proof of vaccination to meet the requirements of The Bahamas will not be permitted to board the ship,” Disney advises.
According to cruise marketing website Cruises.com, in September, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Magic will depart from Port Canaveral for the Bahamas on four cruises, and the Carnival Sunrise departing from Miami for the Bahamas on four cruises.
In September, Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas is slated for seven cruises out of Miami for the Bahamas, as well as nine cruises set for Mariner of the Seas out of Port Canaveral.
MSC Cruises’ Divine is scheduled to leave for the Bahamas from Port Canaveral three times in September; the Meraviglia is headed for the Bahamas out of Miami four times.
Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream will to leave for the Bahamas out of Port Canaveral eight times in September.