Bahamas implements vaccine requirement for cruise ships to …

Posted: August 24, 2021 at 10:21 am

COVID-19: Reporter details time on cruise ship with positive cases

Morgan Hines, a USA TODAY Travel Reporter, detailed her time aboard a cruise ship with positive COVID-19 cases on board.

Staff video, USA TODAY

Cruise ships will not be allowed to enter ports in the Bahamas if there are unvaccinated passengers on board aged 12 and older without a medical excuse, the country said in an emergency order issued Thursday.

The order posted to the Bahamas Customs & Excise Department website wassigned by Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, takes effect Sept. 3 and is valid through Nov. 1.

The new rule is applicable to private islands such as Royal Caribbean's private island Perfect Day at CocoCay, according to the order.

In order to dock, a cruise ship's captain is required to transmit a "crew and passenger manifest"disclosing every person's vaccination status to the Port Medical Officer before arrival.

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All passengers who are aged 12 and older must be fully vaccinated at embarkation. Additionally, the health protocol on board must be that which wasapproved previously by the "Competent Authority" and complied with.

There are exceptions to the new regulation.

The rule does not apply to crew, contractors and any "non-revenue passenger" under the protocol previously agreed upon between the government and cruise lines. The rule is also moot when a cruise ship is attempting to enter port in an emergency and when a passenger has a medical reason as to why they are unvaccinated.

Passengers entering The Bahamas on a cruise ship are also subject to testing requirements mandated by the cruise line and given approval by the "Competent Authority."

On Thursday, Royal Caribbean announced that it would change its vaccine policy for ships sailing from Florida to the Bahamas including its private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay to comply with the emergency order. The cruise line already requirs proof of vaccination from passengers 12 and older sailing from other U.S. ports.

And Sunday, Carnival Cruise Line announced changes to its policy, too.

"Effective Aug. 28 through October, for departures from all Atlantic and Gulf homeports, only children under 12 and adults with a medical condition that prohibits their vaccination are exempt from vaccination requirements to sail," Carnival said in a release, noting that their ships are already sailing with at least 95% of crew and passengers fully vaccinated, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

Carnival passengers who had previously received an exemption outside those two categories have had those exemptions rescinded through October.

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