Carnival and Royal Caribbean Changing Stance on Vaccine Requirements

In the recent days, there have been updates from Carnival and Royal Caribbean which indicate they are changing stance on vaccine requirements.

Carnival and Royal Caribbean Changing Stance on Vaccine Requirements


Over the past several days, we’ve been inundated with cruise updates, restart plans, and return to service dates. Friday, Carnival Cruise Line President, Christine Duffy, appeared on Good Morning America to talk Mardi Gras, vaccine requirements, and more. Later that day, Royal Caribbean released a huge restart update for the U.S. as well. What we found most shocking is that both Carnival and Royal Caribbean are changing their stance on vaccine requirements now.

Carnival Cruise Line Vaccine Updates

While Norwegian Cruise Line and Virgin Voyages have announced vaccine requirements from the get-go, Carnival seemed a bit more reluctant to do so.

In fact, Carnival Corp. CEO and Chairman, Arnold Donald, has been very clear in media comments about not requiring vaccinations to board cruise ships.

Carnival COVID Policies and Procedures

In an interview on April 13th with Bloomberg, Donald was directly asked about vaccine requirements. His response was “no, absolutely”.

He commented that the brand respects personal choice and personal liberty. Further, he argued that cruising was safe; thus, it should not need to uphold more stringent requirements than other forms of travel. Carnival’s President, Christine Duffy, seemed to support this sentiment as well.

Well, that has changed recently.

Ms. Duffy was in Port Canaveral Friday to welcome Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship, Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras will begin her inaugural season later this summer, after over a year of delay.

During an interview with Good Morning America live from the port, the excitement of Mardi Gras’ arrival quickly switched to the topic of health protocols.

Carnival Mardi Gras Arrives in Port Canaveral

What surprised us was Ms. Duffy’s response regarding vaccines. She indicated that “while there is a path for unvaccinated, we really don’t think that the protocols will work to allow us to deliver the guest experience that we want to be able to do. So, I think right now it does look like people will have to be vaccinated.”

In terms of kids, she indicates that the cruise line is still working with the CDC, and the cruise line doesn’t have any definitive answers yet. However, Carnival is optimistic that it will eventually be able to welcome back families.

Now, if this sounds like a complete 180 on Carnival Cruise Line’s stance on vaccinations, you would be right.

Royal Caribbean Vaccine Updates

Now, in equally surprising news, Royal Caribbean appears to also be changing its stance on vaccine requirements.

All along, Royal Caribbean Group’s CEO and President, Richard Fain, has been vocal about the power of vaccination in allowing cruising to resume.

Royal Caribbean currently requires guests who are 16 years of age or older to have a vaccine (12 or older as of August 1st) for its summer sailings on Adventure of the Seas in the Bahamas.

Adventure of the Seas Health Protocols

The cruise line also announced the same health protocols for its Alaska sailings. All eligible guests onboard Serenade of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas will need a vaccine to cruise this summer. Children who are not eligible can still sail with testing requirements.

However, as part of a huge cruise restart announcement on Friday, the brand seemed to drop this requirement for these newly announced sailings.

Specifically, Royal Caribbean announced restart plans for 6 additional ships from Florida and Texas homeports this summer. These include Independence of the Seas from Galveston, TX. Mariner of the Seas and Allure of the Seas will sail from Port Canaveral. Freedom of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas will cruise out of Miami.

Further, the brand’s newest ship, Odyssey of the Seas, will begin her inaugural season early from Fort Lauderdale, sailing for the first time on July 3rd.

Carnival and Royal Caribbean Vaccine Requirements

Along with these restart plans, Royal Caribbean indicated that all crew members will have a vaccine on all Royal Caribbean ships. However, the language now states that the cruise line is “strongly encouraging” individuals that set sail to be fully vaccinated if they’re eligible. Those without a vaccination will need to undergo testing as well as follow other protocols which the cruise line will announce at a later date.

Carnival and Royal Caribbean Changing Stance on Vaccine Requirements

Now, keep in mind that Florida recently passed a state law banning businesses, schools, and government entities across the state from asking for proof of COVID-19 vaccination. This was in attempt to curtail the potential use of “vaccination passports”.

Carnival and Royal Caribbean Vaccine Requirements

There has been ongoing tension with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the CDC, and the cruise lines for some time now. He is actually in the middle of a lawsuit with the CDC suing them over the Conditional Sailing Order.

He also had an exchange with Norwegian Cruise Line’s CEO and Chairman, Frank Del Rio, regarding vaccine requirements.

Most recently, he even threatened to fine Celebrity Cruises $5,000 per passenger for requiring vaccines to board Celebrity Edge. Celebrity Edge will begin sailing from Fort Lauderdale on June 26th.

Thus, if the cruise lines decide to sail with vaccine requirements, they will need to come to some form of agreement with the state of Florida.

Passenger Restrictions

In alignment with CDC guidelines, cruises that have 95% passenger vaccination rates will need less health and safety protocols in place. On these cruises, passengers do not have to wear face masks or socially distance.

However, it cruise lines choose to not require vaccines, it would likely mean that face masks, social distancing, and other stringent protocols would have to be in place. In our opinion, this could be a turn off to those who are fully vaccinated.

Cruise Tips

It seems many guests would feel more comfortable knowing that other adults are vaccinated as well. It also allows for a more normal cruise experience.

So, what is the path forward? Stay tuned as more details continue to emerge about vaccine requirements and cruise restart plans.


What do you think of the news that Carnival and Royal Caribbean are changing their stance on vaccine requirements? Would you be more likely to cruise if there is a vaccine mandate? Drop us an anchor below to share your thoughts on these recent cruise updates.

Stay up to to date with all the latest cruise news and travel updates!

Heidi is a physical therapist by profession, cruise enthusiast at heart, and Princess all the time! She is a self-confessed thrill seeker, obsessive planner, and over-packer. She is always looking for the latest and greatest adventures onboard and ashore, enjoys researching top things to do in ports of call, and loves dressing up for formal nights.
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  1. In my opinion, going on any cruise sailing where stringent protocols are in place and masks have to be worn by some, just kills the VIBE on that cruise ship and doesn’t provide a sense of public safety for it’s passengers.
    Therefore, I chose to cancel the two reservations I had with Royal Caribbean and will book with another cruise line for now that mandates vaccinations. I would like to feel some sense of normalcy while I’m cruising.

    If you are a medical professional Royal Caribbean will graciously refund your money.

    I’ve always been told that a natural immunity is the strongest “vaccine” you can have within your body. The current vaccines that are available are not FDA approved and they are approved for emergency use only period. Some seem to forget that and the others seem not to care. There are far too many problems that have come up with these vaccines. There has not been enough testing involved and for any cruise line to force anyone to have one of these vaccines is completely unprofessional. Of April 24th/29th there have been over 113,000 allergic reactions. From December 14, 2020 to May 28, 2021, the number of reported deaths following experimental COVID-19 vaccines has eclipsed 5,000. In addition to over 5,000 reported deaths, there are 3,994 cases of reported permanent injuries. This is completely unacceptable.

      First you wouldn’t catch me on a cruise now, period. Second, I hate when people spout misinformation or partial information. See the actual statement from CDC as of May 21- Less than 1% of 1% have had any serious issues. As noted below, there has been no correlation between the deaths and the Vaccine. If you give 285 Million inoculations (to mostly older people), some will die within a day or 2 after, its just simple statistics (heart attack, stroke, hit by a car, etc.). Also read the FDA description of there Authorization.

      From CDC Website:
      “Over 285 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through May 24, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 4,863 reports of death (0.0017%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. CDC and FDA physicians review each case report of death as soon as notified and CDC requests medical records to further assess reports. A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines. However, recent reports indicate a plausible causal relationship between the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and a rare and serious”

    A “normal” that requires a vaccine consistently? 🥴

    It’s the vaccinated who are getting very ill,dying and a danger to unvaccinated- read Lifestitenews, Wnd, Dr Michael Yeadon, etc,etc,. the CDC is lying as well as the NIH. Keep watch- things will be bad for the vaccinated-remember the word “experimental” This is a travesty to people who refuse to inform themselves and believe everyhting big tech, big pharma tell them as well as Gates and Fauci. I was a n avid cruiser for years and to see how these lines have bought into this deception is frightening and disgusting. It’s like segregation(I do NOT want anyone with a vaccine anywhere near me!) They will be emitting spike proteins forever taxing their immume systems . Listen to Dr. McCullough from Texas! I am very well informed as an RN who reads hours daily on these topics. I can find other vacation destinies!