In documents posted to Twitter by Eyewitness News, the Bahamas has banned cruise ships unless all passengers over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The order comes as an amendment to the Emergency Powers Regulations which gives Prime Minister Hubert Minnis more authority to institute protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19. Also outlined in a separate amendment was a curfew for certain sections of Andros, the largest island in the Bahamas, between 8pm and 5am.
The documents posted by Eyewitness News, a Bahamian news outlet, were signed by Prime Minister Hubert Minnis and dated August 19th, 2021.
What Does This Mean for Cruise Lines?
Prior to landing in a Bahamian port, the captain of a cruise ship is now required to provide authorities with a manifest detailing the vaccination status of not just each guest, but all persons on board over the age of 12. Cruise lines must also continue to adhere to the previously established agreements regarding health and safety protocols.
However, in the event of an emergency, a ship would be allowed into port in the Bahamas, although it would still be subject to approval by the government.
Which Cruise Lines are Affected?
It’s a mixed bag when it comes to which cruise lines already have 100% vaccination requirements for guests. Some, like Norwegian Cruise Line and Virgin Voyages, who have a large number of itineraries to the Bahamas, won’t have a problem with the new protocols as their ships are for vaccinated guests only. Others like Carnival or Royal Caribbean, who currently operate cruises without a vaccine mandate, will need to adjust some itineraries to comply.
Others still may find they need to adjust their vaccine policy entirely. Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, which runs ships exclusively to the Bahamas from West Palm Beach, Florida, currently does not have a vaccine mandate. Now it appears they’ll have to in order to operate at all.
The state of Florida adds another layer of complexity to the situation. Earlier this month, Norwegian Cruise Line won their lawsuit against the state’s ban on vaccine mandates. That freed up the cruise line to make their ships sailing from the Sunshine State 100% fully vaccinated. While NCL was the only cruise line involved in the lawsuit, it set a precedent for other cruise lines to make the same decision regarding vaccines should they feel it necessary for guest health and safety.