PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. - Disney Cruise Line announced on Wednesday that it will start requiring passengers ages 5 and older to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before sailing.
In a statement on its website, Disney Cruise Line said the new rules start Jan. 13, 2022.
"Currently, Disney Cruise Line continues to require all vaccine-eligible Guests (based on US eligibility requirements) to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as defined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at the time of sailing. This will be a requirement for all Guests (US and international) ages 5 and up for sailings beginning on or after January 13, 2022."
Guests who are not vaccine-eligible because of age must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken between 3 days and 24 hours before their sail date.
"Guests ages 5 through 11 may complete this testing requirement in lieu of being fully vaccinated for sailings that depart before January 13, 2022. Guests 4 years of age and under must complete the testing requirements. The test should be a NAAT test, rapid PCR test, or lab-based PCR test."
This will be the first major cruise line to require younger kids to get the COVID vaccine. Earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control gave its final approval for the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11.
"I’m for it. I think it’s absolutely amazing," said Thea Tidman, of Canada.
Thea and Art Tidman are about to go on their first cruise since the pandemic and only signed up when they knew vaccines were required.
"As more and more adults are vaccinated, then children become the next victim so it’s really important that children get vaccinated," said Art Tidman.
While some are on board with the change, experts said it won’t be smooth sailing with others.
"They’re going to get cancellations I bet because people aren’t going to want to go because they’re not going to want to vaccinate their kids," said Nick Lill, of Orlando. "They’re going to lose customers. Because I just don’t think any vaccine mandate is appropriate."
One travel agent with whom FOX 35 spoke is already starting to see such cancellations.
"That’s where this is going to become just even a hotter topic over the next couple of weeks as cruise lines adopt what they’re going to do because it tends to have a rippling effect," said Angela Hughes, of Ships and Trips Luxury Travel.
The cruise line policy changes take place on Jan. 13, 2022, months before the new Disney Wish is set to sail next summer.
Its maiden voyage will be a five-night cruise to Nassau, the Bahamas, and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay beginning on June 9. Following this, it will begin an inaugural season of three- and four-night cruises to the same destinations from Port Canaveral.
Regarding the new vaccine policy, there is no word on what happens to families who are already booked but don’t plan to vaccinate their children.
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