Carnival Cruise Line will resume navigation from Mobile on October 21, an announcement that drew applause at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
But at least one cruise expert and representatives from Visit Mobile are encouraging anyone who wants to take a first cruise from the Alabama cruise terminal to get the vaccine. If cruisers are not vaccinated, the message conveyed by the industry: better wait.
“Cruise lines say ‘we want to be able to sail with everyone who is vaccinated,'” said Stewart Chiron, a cruise industry expert known as the “Cruise Guy.”
He added: “Unvaccinated people should just wait. The experience they will have on board the ships will not be very pleasant. There are certain dining rooms that they cannot enter. With Royal Caribbean, they can’t go to a spa, casino and (are) relegated to certain areas of the dining room. They do everything possible to have no cases. “
David Clark, President and CEO of Visit Mobile, said that for anyone who wants a “full cruise experience”, they will need to get vaccinated.
“I think Carnival is doing the right thing,” Clark said. “As an operator, you cannot take risks with your customers. You cannot take any risk at this time or at any time. Carnival has always maintained that safety is the number one priority for their customers and their team and I commend them for meeting this standard. “
Carnival Cruise Line is following a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 95% of all passengers on board are vaccinated. This means that if 2,000 people are on board a cruise ship leaving Mobile, only 100 unvaccinated people would be allowed.
Carnival Cruise Line, in a press release Monday announcing its intention to resume the cruise from Mobile, said it was welcoming unvaccinated guests on board. But the cruise line, on its website, said unvaccinated passengers are welcome, but will have to go through an application process to receive an exemption before being allowed on board. And even then, there are capacity limitations that will limit the number of unvaccinated travelers on board.
Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a statement that the decision to take vaccinated trips was only temporary. She called it a “difficult” decision to make, especially at a time when children under 12 are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
“It is very important that we continue to maintain the trust of our destination partners, so that we can provide our customers with the best cruise experience and follow our routes,” she said.
According to Carnival’s website, the company is committed to meeting the 95% vaccination standard set by the CDC. They said that “until further notice, all of our operations will meet this standard.”
“We realize this may not work for all guests, especially for the many families we love to sail with,” the company statement said. “But right now, this is the best way for us to successfully restart our operations and maintain the confidence of the destinations we visit, so that we can deliver our itineraries and our customer experience.”
Carnival Cruise Line, on its website, said vaccinated cruises are available to customers who have received their final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before the day of embarkation and who have proof vaccination. Customers will also need to provide proof of vaccination at the terminal before boarding:
-Customers should bring their original vaccination record issued by the county health authority that administered the vaccination. Copies or photos are not accepted.
-The name and date of birth on the vaccination card must match the client’s travel documents and show that the client is fully vaccinated. The type of vaccine, dates of administration and lot numbers should be clearly visible. Vaccination dates should indicate that the guest has completed the required doses no later than 14 days prior to the departure date.
-Alternatively, guests can present a digital COVID-19 certificate (QR code acceptable) and COVID-19 vaccination record from a healthcare provider (original digital email is accepted), a personal electronic health record or a government immunization information system record.
-It is also recommended that customers have immediately available the contact details (email and telephone) of the care provider or the clinic site that issued the certificate in order to validate the vaccination if necessary.
“Customers are strongly encouraged to review their immunization records and ensure they meet our standards before going to the cruise terminal to avoid a situation where they may not be able to navigate or be eligible for reimbursement, ”the company says.
Chiron said a passenger can’t prove he’s vaccinated, “they’re not going anywhere. If people show up (at the terminal), they will be turned away. They will check in advance and communicate with each passenger. They are doing it right now in Galveston (Texas) and Florida.
Derogations will be allowed, but they are based on strict capacity limitations.
According to Carnival:
-Unvaccinated passengers must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test at check-in, performed within 72 hours of the departure date. They will also need to perform another antigen test upon boarding and then retest within 24 hours of disembarkation on all cruises longer than 4 days. Unvaccinated passengers will be charged a fee of $ 150 per person for the test. Children under the age of 2 are exempt from the testing requirements.
– In the event that an unvaccinated passenger is in close contact or exposed to a guest or crew member who test positive for COVID-19 during the cruise, that person will need to undergo additional testing and may be brought to quarantine in her cabin until the carnival. the medical team determines that it is safe for you to resume your cruising activities.
Additionally, unvaccinated passengers are not permitted to participate in independent tours. They can only disembark if they have booked a Carnival sponsored bubble tour.
Low vaccination rates
The problem in Mobile could worsen as less than 30 percent of residents are fully immunized. In neighboring Baldwin County, only just over 30 percent are fully immunized. By comparison, nearly 43% of residents of Galveston County, Texas are vaccinated. The cruise resumed at Galveston earlier this month with the same strict vaccination requirements in place.
But cruise ships leaving Mobile and elsewhere tend to draw travelers across the country. The mobile phone market includes states that are lagging behind the national average for immunization. Alabama ranked dead last in the country on Monday for the percentage of residents vaccinated. Cruise lines also come from other southern markets, such as Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee, three states that also lag behind the U.S. vaccination percentage of 49.2%.
Angela Gray, administrator of the Mobile Cruisers Facebook page, said she believes cruise enthusiasts will do “whatever it takes” to get back on the cruise. She said she had heard from many cruise passengers who were fully vaccinated and ready to board the Carnival Sensation in October.
She also doesn’t think Alabama’s vaccination rate of 33.7 is the only statistic to look at, as many people traveling from the Port of Mobile are out-of-state residents.
“I strongly believe that Carnival is adhering to the guidelines to avoid any possible risk of COVID on ships, which will cause another possible break in service,” Gray said. “We all want this to be avoided at all costs because the travel industry cannot handle another cruise stop.”
She said travelers need to learn to temporarily adapt and “hopefully we’ll be back to what they once were.”
Clark, with Visit Mobile, said he hopes more people get vaccinated because the most contagious Delta variant spreads mainly to the unvaccinated in the United States.
“Carnival is a great partner for Mobile and Coastal Alabama… and for the people who sail,” said Clark. “The economic impacts are significant… hotel nights, gas revenues, attractions. We receive a new ship, the Sensation, which has 100 additional balconies. We have a great opportunity and I hope our citizens will book a cruise. “