The Bahamas Is Requiring All Visiting Cruise Passengers Be Vaccinated — and Cruise Lines Are Changing Their Policies to Comply

The policy will be in effect through at least Nov. 1.

Cruise passengers heading to the Bahamas will soon have to show proof of vaccination before docking at a port — including on a cruise line's private island.

Starting Sept. 3, cruise ships will not be able to dock in the Bahamas unless all passengers 12 and older supply proof they are fully vaccinated, according to an emergency order issued Thursday and posted to the Bahamas Customs & Excise Department website. The order will be in effect through at least Nov. 1.

To comply, ship captains must submit the passenger manifest with the passenger's vaccination status, including when a ship stops at a cruise line's private island in the country.

The order does not apply to crew members, children under 12, or anyone who is ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccine due to a medical reason.

Royal Caribbean — which saw several guests test positive for COVID-19 on cruises sailing from the Bahamas last month — will require all guests 12 and older be fully vaccinated on cruises visiting the island nation starting Sept. 3, including those leaving from Florida, according to the company. Previously, Royal Caribbean required all guests 12 and older to show proof of vaccination before boarding nearly all cruises except those leaving out of Florida.

Nassau, Bahamas
A Norwegian Cruise Line ship and Carnival ship are docked at the port in Nassau, Bahamas in 2019. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

Similarly, MSC Cruises — which set sail from Miami on the MSC Meraviglia to the Bahamas this month with a stop at the cruise line's private island, Ocean Cay — will start requiring all passengers 12 and older to be vaccinated for cruises leaving from Miami and Port Canaveral, the company noted. Prior to the decision, MSC did not require passengers leaving from the U.S. to show proof of vaccination.

The ability for cruise lines to require proof of vaccination on sailings leaving from Florida comes after a federal judge ruled last week that they could. The ruling came as the result of a lawsuit filed by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings after Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis banned the concept of vaccine passports.

For its part, Norwegian Cruise line extended its vaccination mandate through the end of the year.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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