New COVID-19 cruise rules: Canadians wanting to vacation aboard may be restricted if they took mixed vaccine doses

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The Royal Princess ship, of the Princess Cruise line, is seen in the Port of Los Angeles World Cruise Center in San Pedro, California on April 20, 2019. (Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

While cruises continue to be in big demand for Canadians travellers, particularly for 2022 departures, different vaccination requirements globally could impact your ability to take your next cruise vacation.

While Canada has been administering mixed vaccine doses across the country, including AstraZeneca and mRNA vaccines Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, and using the two mRNA vaccines interchangeably, that hasn’t been the case in other parts of the world, including the U.S.

“Canadians are reminded that it is safe to receive one vaccine product for your first dose and a different vaccine product for your second dose,” Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer said at a press conference on Tuesday. “Likewise, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization, or NACI, considers the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, to be interchangeable.”

“That means, if the same mRNA vaccine you received for your first dose is not readily available at your clinic, it is safe to receive another mRNA vaccine so you can complete your two-dose vaccine series as soon as you are eligible.”

While medical experts in Canada have extensively supported this strategy the same guidance hasn’t been made globally, with some cruise operators currently restricting service for mix-vaccinated guests.

The Royal Princess ship, of the Princess Cruise line, is seen in the Port of Los Angeles World Cruise Center in San Pedro, California on April 20, 2019. (Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP)        (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)
The Royal Princess ship, of the Princess Cruise line, is seen in the Port of Los Angeles World Cruise Center in San Pedro, California on April 20, 2019. (Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

What are the current rules for cruise travellers who received mixed vaccine doses?

While we do not know how existing rules and regulations will evolve, several cruise lines are currently operating with restrictions for travellers who have received COVID-19 vaccine doses from different manufacturers.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises states that guests of all ages must be fully vaccinated to travel on their cruises.

The cruise line is accepting the following formats for proof of vaccination: a COVID-19 vaccination card, a digital COVID-19 certificate (including a QR code), record of COVID-19 vaccination from a healthcare provider, including an on email notification, personal electronic health record, or government Immunization information system record.

Each individual is considered fully vaccinated after they have received a full series of COVID-19 vaccines at least 14 days before the beginning of the cruise.

Passengers who have received a mixed dose regime of a viral vector vaccine (AstraZeneca) and an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) are not considered fully vaccinated. However, guests with a mix of mRNA vaccines from two different manufacturers are considered fully vaccinated by the cruise line.

Norwegian Cruise Line

The existing rules from Norwegian Cruise Line state that anyone embarking on a cruise through Oct. 31 must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to embarkation, including children.

Proof of vaccination must be the original vaccination record document but electronic vaccination records will be accepted for residents of countries where that is standard.

For anyone looking to travel on ships embarking or disembarking at U.S. ports the Pfizer-BioNTech, Modern, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccines will be accepted, but not any mixed vaccine doses.

Ships that depart from non-U.S. ports of entry will accept mixed vaccine doses of any combination of the AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, as vaccine administration approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency (EMA), or World Health Organization (WHO) are accepted.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line is operating “to meet the standards for a 95 per cent vaccinated cruise.”

For cruises departing from the U.S., guests must have received a full vaccine series from the same manufacturer at least 14 days prior to sailing date.

“Canadian or other international guests who received a combination of AstraZeneca and Pfizer are considered unvaccinated by the CDC,” the information on Carnival’s website reads. “Guests who are not fully vaccinated, according to these criteria, will be considered unvaccinated and need to apply for a vaccination exemption.”

Children under the age of 12, who are not eligible for COVID-19 vaccines at this point in time, can still travel with the cruise line. Adults can also apply for a vaccine exemption but, even if approved, adults must present the results of a negative PCR COVID-19 test, taken up to 72 hours before sailing date, at check-in. They must also take a test again within 24 hours of debarkation on all cruises longer than 4 days. There is a charge of US$150 per person to cover the cost of testing, reporting and health and safety screenings.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises has indicated that mixed COVID-19 vaccine doses are considered fully vaccinated, but only mixed doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are accepted. However, the company indicates some ports of call may not accept mixed vaccine doses entirely.

For travel from U.S. ports, non-U.S. residents must present a negative NAAT or Antigen test taken within three days of travel.

All guests 16 years and older (over 12 for any sailing on or after Aug. 1) must be fully vaccinated, with doses administered at least 14 days prior to sailing and unvaccinated guests will require a complimentary COVID-19 test at the terminal.

Guests over 16 (over 12 for any sailing on or after Aug. 1) who decline or are unable to show proof of vaccination sailings out of Florida also need to takes mid-cruise and end of cruise antigen tests, which cost US$178 per person. Masks will also be required at all times onboard, except while eating or drinking, and they will not have access to gym or spa.

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