- Cruise lines looking to operate out of Florida are adhering to the state’s firm vaccine passport ban.
- Vaccinated and unvaccinated guests sailing out of Florida could have different cruising experiences.
- Unvaccinated guests aboard Royal Caribbean and Carnival’s cruises will face more costs and onboard restrictions.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Cruise lines have found a way around Florida’s firm vaccine passport ban, but that doesn’t mean unvaccinated passengers should expect equal treatment aboard cruises sailing out of the Sunshine State.
It’ll actually be the opposite: unlike their vaccinated counterparts, unvaccinated guests aboard Carnival and Royal Caribbean’s Florida cruises will have to pay for travel insurance and COVID-19 tests, but will still be barred from select areas of the ships.
In April, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order banning vaccine passports and Florida businesses from requiring said proof of vaccination. Shortly after, the state passed a law officially banning vaccine passports.
Any company violating the ban could be fined $US5,000 ($AU6,799) per customer.
Frank Del Rio – president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) – has already threatened to pull Norwegian’s Florida cruises if it can’t operate with a vaccine mandate. And this month, NCLH sued Florida’s surgeon general over the law and has asked the US 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 against a vaccine mandate for Florida sailings, even if the same companies have vaccination requirements for almost all other sailings out of non-Florida home ports.
This might give unvaccinated passengers a chance to cruise, but their experience will be both more expensive and more limited compared to vaccinated guests. This could disincentivize unvaccinated people from cruising, even if the reasons behind these disparities are tied to health protocols and security.
A breakdown of the extra payments
Starting August 1 through the end of the year, all unvaccinated Royal Caribbean Florida cruise passengers 12-years-old or older will have to show proof of travel insurance. The insurance must have a minimum of $US25,000 ($AU33,994) in medical expense coverage and $US50,000 ($AU67,988) for “quarantine and medical evacuation related to a positive COVID-19 test result” per person.
On top of insurance payments, unvaccinated cruisers will also have to pay for COVID-19 tests that vaccinated passengers won’t need to take, amounting to an additional $US136 ($AU185) or $US178 ($AU242) payment depending on the sailing duration.
Carnival has a similar requirement for its Florida sailings: beginning July 31, every unvaccinated passenger 12-years-old or older will have to show proof of travel insurance, which has to cover a minimum of $US10,000 ($AU13,598) in medical expenses and $US30,000 ($AU40,793) in “emergency medical evacuation and without COVID-19 exclusions.”
Unvaccinated Carnival guests who don’t show proof of the vaccine will not be allowed to board and will not receive a refund. And like Royal Caribbean, Carnival passengers who don’t want the jabs will also have to cough up an additional $US150 ($AU204) for COVID-19 tests and other “health screening measures.”
“Consistent with the practices of other lines who are also restarting their operations, and in the best interests of our guests who are unvaccinated, this is important coverage to have should they encounter a medical situation during their cruise,” Vance Gulliksen, a Carnival spokesperson, told USA Today.
Counterintuitively, paying more doesn’t denote exclusive access to the ship. In this case, it’s the exact opposite.
On top of extra payments, unvaccinated passengers won’t be allowed in certain venues throughout Royal Caribbean and Carnival’s cruise ships.
According to Carnival’s website, unvaccinated guests can’t use the sauna or the thermal suite, and unvaccinated children and teenagers won’t be allowed to partake in the cruise line’s youth camp program.
Unvaccinated friendly areas aboard Royal Caribbean’s cruises depend on each ship. You can find the full list of accessible venues on its website, but generally, the casinos and select restaurants, bars, lounges, activities, shows the casinos will be reserved for vaccinated people only.