The cruise industry was buzzing last night and this morning with the news that the CDC sent a letter to cruise lines updating and clarifying some of the rules set forth in their Conditional Sail Order. While many are rejoicing the news as a big step forward, there are some unsavory side effects that need to be considered. The most glaring of which is that kids may not be able to cruise, at least not right away.
Updated Conditional Sail Order
In the updated conditions, the CDC states that cruise ships can skip the mandatory simulated test cruises with volunteers and go right to sailings with paying passengers if 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.
That’s great news, right? Not if you have kids.
As of now, the COVID-19 vaccine is available to everyone in the United States age 16 and older. There are plans in the works to drop that number to anyone 12 or older in the near future. However, that means anyone with kids age 11 and under will have to be in the 5% of guests who are allowed to sail without the vaccination. For a ship with 2,000 guests, that means only 100 people can get on board without their shots.
If all 100 guests are children under the age of 12, that means every adult on board will need to get vaccinated. For those with medical conditions or allergies who haven’t received the vaccine, they will be fighting with children for those precious few slots on board.
How does a cruise line like Disney or Carnival get back into service if people can’t bring their kids? The short answer is they simply cannot.
Did the CDC Just Make Vaccines Mandatory to Cruise?
While some cruise lines have come right out and said that vaccines will be mandatory on board, many others have not. If cruise lines want to speed up the process and get back into service, they’re going to have to have a vaccine requirement for 95% of their guests.
The CDC hasn’t come right out and said they want to require the COVID-19 vaccine to sail, but the update to the Conditional Sail Order certainly pushes cruise lines in that direction.