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All major cruise lines will soon allow unvaccinated travelers

Disney cruises are set to become the last major group to drop the vaccine requirement on most U.S. sailings

A Disney Cruise ship at Port Canaveral terminal in Florida. (JHVEPhoto/Getty Images)

Disney Cruise Line will no longer require vaccinations on most of its voyages beginning in October, the company announced Tuesday, marking the final major cruise line to ease its vaccine requirement on most U.S. sailings.

For voyages on the Disney Wish, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Wonder beginning Oct. 14, full vaccination is “highly recommended,” but not required, according to the cruise line’s website. Unvaccinated travelers 5 and older must provide proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within two days of the sail date, either through an observed antigen test or a lab-based PCR test. Vaccinated travelers and children under 5 are not required to test.

The same policy applies to Disney Magic sailings beginning Nov. 7. The Magic will be visiting ports of call in Canada and Bermuda in October, which have their own health requirements, though Canada is lifting all entry restrictions on Oct. 1.

The family-focused cruise line dropped its vaccination requirement for kids between 5 and 11 in August. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its announcement Tuesday.

Welcome aboard, unvaccinated cruise passengers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ended its covid program for cruises in July. Since then, all major cruise lines serving the U.S. — including Norwegian, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess and MSC Cruises — have dropped their vaccine requirements for all but a few voyages, according to their websites.

Depending on the company, vaccinations may be required for sailings that last more than 16 days or visit ports of call with additional requirements, such as Bermuda and Greece.

Costa Cruises, the Italian carrier that operates some Caribbean cruises, announced last week it will permit unvaccinated passengers onboard beginning Oct. 8.

Anne Madison, a spokesperson for Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), said in a statement provided to The Washington Post that “most countries, travel sectors, and other businesses” have eliminated testing and vaccination requirements as a larger share of the population has gotten vaccinated or recovered from coronavirus cases.

“CLIA and our member lines will continue to monitor health conditions onboard and employ health and safety protocols commensurate with those conditions,” Madison’s statement says. “CLIA and its cruise line members have and will continue to make science-driven and medically informed decisions.”

As of Tuesday, the only seagoing cruise line requiring vaccinations on U.S. sailings is Cunard Line, a luxury British carrier operating three ships, including the only remaining ocean liner still in service.

Cunard requires all adults to be vaccinated, including with a booster if more than 270 days have passed since their initial vaccination, and take a test before departure, according to its website.

Cruises are smashing records despite covid on board: ‘Life goes on’

Travel agents and cruise companies have seen a spike in bookings in recent weeks after vaccine requirements were lifted, though company executives said they expect that most passengers will still be vaccinated. The recovery is a boon for the industry after a 15-month shutdown, but covid remains a concern, as experts have warned the close quarters of ships are particularly conducive to the virus’s spread.

The CDC continues to recommend being up to date with vaccines, including boosters, before cruise travel and to test no more than three days before departure.