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Many people are ecstatic that cruising is back. However, just because cruising has resumed doesn’t mean you should toss all your worries about COVID.

Recently, a Norwegian Cruise Line ship had 17 people test positive for COVID while on board. While this may not sound like much on a cruise of 3,200 people, it is a high percentage when you consider the cruise’s line very strict COVID vaccination policy in place. Everyone on board was required to be fully vaccinated. They required passengers to take a COVID test before boarding, and the test needed to have a negative result.

Still, because of these COVID policies, no social distancing measures were taken on board, and they had no capacity restrictions in place. Dining was mask-free, as well. When you consider all of that, 17 cases seem quite shocking. The fact has made many potential cruisers quite nervous.

Regardless of what happened aboard Norwegian, it’s vital to understand that, if you’re going on a cruise, you and your children should be – and are required to be – vaccinated. Here’s what you need to know about the vaccine requirements if you’re planning a family trip on a major cruise line.

Children and COVID Vaccines

As of right now, children ages five and up are able to be vaccinated for COVID. Because the age groups recently expanded for the vaccine, several major cruise lines, including Disney and Celebrity ,are requiring that children over age five are fully vaccinated before a cruise. You must be able to provide proof of it.

Most major cruise lines, with the exception of only a couple, do allow for some exemptions to their COVID vaccination rules. For instance, they allow children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, and they give room for those with a documented medical reason or religious exemption to the vaccine.

Overall, if you and your children will be cruising, then you need to acquaint yourselves with the policies of the specific cruise line on which you plan to sail. You don’t want to show up for boarding and get turned away – which can and does happen.

COVID Vaccine and Cruises

What Does It Mean to Be Fully Vaccinated?

One important piece of information you need to understand: what does it means to be fully vaccinated in the eyes of the cruise lines? It can be a bit confusing for some, but it’s really quite simple.

If you are two weeks past your second dose of an FDA-approved COVID vaccine before you sail, then you’re considered fully vaccinated. This applies to both children and adults.

Vaccination Policies of the Cruise Lines

As stated, you should consult with the specific cruise line you are planning to use for detailed information about their vaccination policies for COVID. You’ll also want to check any COVID testing that you may need done before you embark.

Failing to understand and meet their requirements before you sail can result in being turned away at the port. That’s a position nobody wants to be in.

Of the major cruise lines available, we offer some basic understanding of your child’s COVID vaccination needs:


Carnival is known as a fun cruise line, and their affordable cruises are popular with many families and young adults. Through minimum March 31, 2022, anyone 12 and older is required to have completed their full vaccination series against COVID before they can sail. Children younger than 12 are not required to be vaccinated at this time.

How do you prove your vaccination status? Carnival requires that you show either a digital record from an official source, such as the Department of Health in your state, or that you show an original, paper vaccine card. For children younger than 12, they must have a negative COVID test before they cruise.

Cruise Ship Accident Lawyer

Disney Cruise Line

Until January 13, 2022, anyone over 12 who wishes to cruise with Disney must be fully vaccinated against COVID before they can sail. After January 13, anyone over the age of 5 who is eligible must be vaccinated in order to come on board. You must show official proof of vaccination before you can board the ship, and those younger than five must have additional testing done before they embark.

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean International has been quite flexible with its vaccination rules. Currently, they only require those 12 and older to be fully vaccinated. Anyone under 12 who isn’t vaccinated must submit to testing at the port. However, any child must show proof of vaccination if they want to take part in special onboard experiences reserved only for the vaccinated.


About the Author:

Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2021 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2021, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019-2021.