If You're Fully Vaccinated, You Can Finally Do This Again Next Month
This restriction is being lifted after more than a year.
More than a year ago, life as we knew it came to a screeching halt. Before the pandemic, people in the U.S. were traveling as they pleased, going to concerts and sporting events with tens of thousands of people, rolling dice at casinos, and spending their nights drinking at bars with the masses. But once COVID arrived on stateside shores, even things as simple as going to movie theaters, shopping at malls, and eating out at local restaurants became off-limits. So eventually just being able to step out for groceries felt like a luxury. Fortunately, the introduction of vaccines has allowed us to dial back these restrictions layer by layer in 2021, and now, even traveling across the globe is back on the table. Cruising specifically has been put on hold for nearly 15 months as a result of the pandemic. However, fully vaccinated individuals will get to return to the seas soon, as Carnival Cruise Line just announced that they are resuming some operations in July, but only for fully vaccinated passengers setting sail from one state in particular.
Carnival Cruise Line announced on June 7 that it will resume guest operations for two ships that depart from the Port of Galveston in Texas: Carnival Vista on July 3 and Carnival Breeze on July 15. However, only fully vaccinated individuals will be permitted to book these cruises. According to Carnival Cruise Line, this means guests will have had to receive their final dose of a COVID vaccine that's approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise and have proof of vaccination. That means, no unvaccinated people are welcome aboard.
"We appreciate the progress and support for our U.S. restart from the CDC and other key federal agencies; however, the current CDC requirements for cruising with a guest base that is unvaccinated will make it very difficult to deliver the experience our guests expect, especially given the large number of families with younger children who sail with us," Christine Duffy, the president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a statement. "As a result, our alternative is to operate our ships from the U.S. during the month of July with vaccinated guests."
On March 14, 2020, the CDC placed a no-sail order on cruise lines operating from U.S. ports due to the heightened risk of ships spreading the coronavirus. Early on in the pandemic, cruises quickly proved to be a massive hub for virus transmission. One of the first and largest COVID outbreaks occurred aboard the Diamond Princess—a British-registered cruise ship where more than 700 people aboard contracted the virus, forcing passengers and crew to quarantine on the ship for an entire month. As a result, passenger-based cruises have been suspended in the U.S. for more than a year. But on May 6, the CDC revised its requirements and guidelines for U.S. cruise ships. The agency lifted most restrictions for ships where the large majority of both passengers and crew members are fully vaccinated.
"For ships with at least 95 percent of crew and 95 percent of passengers fully vaccinated, cruise ship operators, at their discretion, may advise passengers and crew that they do not have to wear a mask or maintain physical distance in any areas," the CDC states. Meanwhile, passengers aboard planes, trains, buses, subways, and other modes of transportation are still required to wear masks.
Carnival also said they're hoping to resume operations for Carnival Horizon from PortMiami in July, but the company is still working with the state of Florida and the CDC on plans for the return of that ship. Carnival said it will also be "advising guests and travel advisors about its plans for August sailings over the coming days."