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Carnival Cruise to require vaccination proof for all passengers 12 and over

The move comes after the Bahamas issued an order barring ships unless passengers were vaccinated

Tourists take pictures after exiting Carnival's Mardi Gras cruise ship, docked in the bay of San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Carlos Giusti/AP)

Carnival Cruise Line is tightening its vaccine mandate beginning this week, announcing that vaccination will be required for all passengers except children under 12 and adults with medical conditions that prohibit inoculation.

The move came Sunday, three days after the Bahamas issued an emergency order barring cruise ships from entering the country’s ports beginning Sept. 3 unless all passengers over 12 have gotten the shots. An exception is made for those with medical issues that preclude inoculation.

Carnival cited the order in announcing the updated vaccination rules, saying it was adapting to “evolving requirements of some of its destinations.”

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The mandate applies to departures from all Atlantic and Gulf homeports, the company said. Previously, Carnival followed U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines requiring at least 95 percent of all guests and crew be fully vaccinated; the cruise line said all of its crew members have gotten the shots. The new rule is effective Aug. 28 through October.

“The requirements for cruise ships to enter ports outside the U.S. continue to evolve, and Carnival Cruise Line must operate in full compliance with these regulations,” Carnival brand ambassador John Heald wrote on Facebook. He added, “We believe these will be will temporary measures and apologise for any disruption caused to our guests.”

Other major cruise lines had already imposed strict inoculation requirements, despite a Florida law that bans companies from demanding proof of vaccination against the coronavirus.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings sued Florida over the law, which has been championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). A federal judge sided with Norwegian earlier this month, and the company became the first to require every person on board in Florida to be fully vaccinated.

Royal Caribbean also updated its vaccination policy to comply with the Bahamas order. For cruises departing from any U.S. port, the shots are required for all guests over 12.