Disney and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines will require COVID-19 vaccine for passengers as new Bahamas policy is announced

  • Disney and Royal Caribbean became the latest cruise lines to require vaccine documentation.
  • The move comes after the Bahamas signed a new declaration and Florida lost a major legal battle.
  • The Bahamas’ new emergency order would block cruises from Florida unless companies prove that all passengers on board are vaccinated.

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Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean became the latest companies to announce that passengers would be required to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination in order to board their cruises.

The two companies updated their policies on Tuesday, joining Norwegian Cruise Lines, MSC, and Carnival in adding the public health measure in light of pushback from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

In Disney’s updated policy, the company will require proof of vaccination for all customers 12 and older for cruises sailing from the Bahamas between September 3 until November 1. Tuesday’s new guidance for Royal Caribbean mirrors Disney’s update and makes mention of cruises also sailing from the Bahamas.

Last Thursday, the Bahamanian government enacted an emergency order which would block cruise ships coming into its ports from Florida unless companies provide proof that all passengers on board have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The cruise lines vaccine passport policies have fallen into line this week following a legal win for Norwegian Cruise Line against the state of Florida, and after the new declaration from the Bahamas.

On August 8, days before Norwegian Cruise Lines’ first voyage from Miami, a federal judge sided with Norwegian and ruled that the state of Florida could not require the company to rescind its vaccine documentation policies.  

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis first signed an executive order in April banning state agencies and businesses from requiring vaccine documentation, and Florida’s GOP-led legislature passed a bill that expanded the order in May.

In her ruling, US District Judge Kathleen Williams said that Florida failed “to provide a valid evidentiary, factual, or legal predicate” for a vaccine passport ban, warning about the potential public health hazards.

“We are pleased that Judge Williams saw the facts, the law and the science as we did and granted the Company’s motion for preliminary injunction allowing us to operate cruises from Florida with 100% vaccinated guests and crew,” Daniel S. Farkas, Norwegian’s executive vice president, said in the statement.

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