By the time cruising resumes, nearly a year will have passed since last ships sailed, leaving many of us downright desperate to get back on board. But one thing some will have to ask themselves is what they are — and aren’t — willing to do in order to do so.
“Lawyers Are Looking At It As We Speak”
Already, we know that cruising will be different in many regards, and that some of those changes have caused a bit of debate. Some have said they won’t cruise until we are past the point of having to wear masks in public venues, others aren’t thrilled with the idea of buffets going from self-serve to crew-member served.
However, even as vaccines began to be distributed — bolstering both consumer confidence in cruising’s return and, not coincidentally, the stocks of several battered cruise lines — a new controversy erupted.
Because the very thing designed to help flatten the curve and, as a result, help the industry get back on its feet was not exactly welcomed by all.
Last week, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio addressed the question of whether cruise lines would be able to make proving one had received the new vaccine a condition of boarding. “It will certainly be a requirement for the crew,” he said during a Zoom call with John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Group. “But it’s too early to tell whether we have the legal standing to mandate that [passengers] take a vaccine to come aboard.”
He added that “lawyers are looking at that issue as we speak.”
“Immunity Passports” Might Be Required
Certainly, cruising is not the only segment of the travel industry looking into the possibility of requiring proof of vaccinations. “There is talk beginning to emerge from different corners of the travel industry,” Del Rio elaborated, “of requiring some kind of immunity passport demonstrating that you’ve had the virus or been vaccinated so that you are good to go.”
No sooner had Del Rio’s comments been reported than cruisers began reacting. And while many indicated they’d happily line up to receive the vaccine if it meant getting back on a ship, others were quite adamantly opposed.
Following our initial coverage of Del Rio’s comments, Cruise Radio readers responded by the hundreds across our various social media platforms. Nearly half of those weighing in said that the requirement would lead them to avoid cruising (or any form of travel requiring a vaccine), most often citing the unknown long-term side effects.
Meanwhile, the other half were not only willing to be vaccinated but hoped the cruise lines moved forward with plans to make it a legal requirement. Several noted that there are already vaccination requirements in place on several cruise lines based on specific itineraries.
While the Centers for Disease Control issues guidelines with regards to American citizens visiting other countries, several of those places visited by tourists make certain immunizations a requirement before one is allowed entry.
One thing is almost certain: Any attempt to make proof of vaccination a requirement for travel will be challenged in court. This comes as Newsweek reports that recent polling indicated that approximately 27 percent of respondents said they did not plan to be vaccinated.
But the report also notes that a travel-related requirement could convince many who are on the fence about whether to be vaccinated to accept the inoculation rather than see their ability to travel restricted.