Carnival Cruise Line Will Require Doctor's Note for Unvaccinated Guests

The new policy starts Aug. 28.

Carnival Cruise Line is strengthening its vaccination policy, requiring unvaccinated guests to provide a doctor's note ahead of embarking on a cruise.

Starting Aug. 28, any unvaccinated adult guests sailing on a Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, or Maryland-based ship who are granted an exemption must show "a letter from a medical provider stating that the individual cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons," according to Carnival. Unvaccinated children can also provide a birth certificate or passport.

Currently, the cruise line allows unvaccinated passengers who are either under 12 years old or have a medical condition that prohibits them from getting vaccinated. The policy will be in effect through at least October and applies to sailings leaving from the company's Atlantic and Gulf homeports.

Additionally, unvaccinated guests leaving from Florida or Texas must show proof of travel insurance.

Carnival operates a series of "vaccinated cruises" with at least 95% of guests fully vaccinated. However, the company has made limited "capacity-controlled exemptions."

"Carnival has implemented a suite of protocols that are designed to flex up as needed to adapt to the changing public health situation related to COVID-19," a company spokesman said in a statement provided to Travel + Leisure. "Unfortunately, no venue on land or at sea is COVID-free right now, but we are committed to protecting the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit and have not hesitated to act quickly and go beyond existing public health guidelines."

The decision was made after the Bahamas said it would implement a vaccine mandate starting Sept. 3, requiring all cruise passengers 12 and older to show proof they are fully vaccinated in order for a ship to dock, including on a cruise line's private island. The order does not apply to anyone who is ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccine due to a medical reason.

Earlier this month, Carnival started requiring all guests to get tested before embarking on a cruise and wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status.

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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