Cruise Ships Embracing Vaccine Segregation, Unvaccinated Customers Face Mounting Restrictions

Royal Caribbean ship Allure of the Seas (L) and Carnival Cruise ships Liberty and Elation are seen in Nassau, Bahamas on April 29, 2019. (Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images

Kathryn Watson, a White House reporter for CBS News, floated total vaccine segregation as a viable option in response to mounting complaints about restrictions the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has imposed on the cruise industry, requiring nearly everyone aboard to be vaccinated. Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean is implementing a workaround, offering segregated areas for the unvaccinated, for ships sailing out of Florida, which has banned the use of vaccine passports.

“Easy, one boat for vaccinated people, another for unvaccinated people,” Watson wrote in response to a Bloomberg article, highlighted by Bloomberg Senate reporter Steven Dennis, detailing the concerns and logistics of the cruise industry resuming in a world containing a mixed bag of both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. He appeared to mock unvaccinated individuals as well.

“Half joking but also half not,” Watson added:

The Bloomberg article details the resumption of the cruise industry in the era of the Chinese coronavirus, as the Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas resumes sailings from Miami to the Bahamas. Notably, because of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) staunch stance against vaccine passports and his law banning their use, which went into effect July 1, Royal Caribbean is not requiring passengers sailing out of Florida ports to be fully vaccinated.

“For cruises departing from all U.S. ports (except Florida ports), Royal Caribbean requires all guests 16 years of age or older to be fully vaccinated, and from Aug. 1, all guests 12 years of age or older must be fully vaccinated,” the cruise liner said in a statement last month.

“Guests eligible but not fully vaccinated or able to show proof of vaccination will be subject to testing and additional health protocols at their own expense. Children not eligible for vaccines will be subject to complimentary testing and health protocols,” it added.

However, unvaccinated individuals aboard the Freedom of the Seas do not have as many privileges as vaccinated guests, as Bloomberg detailed:

Jabbed guests, identified with special wristbands, get full run of the ship; those unprotected from the virus won’t even be able to walk into the sushi bar, casino, or spa.

Those with a hole punched in their SeaPass — indicating that they haven’t been jabbed or declined to show a vaccine card—will be segregated to one deck of the main dining room and will be banned from some of the better, more intimate for-a-fee dining venues. (That includes families with unvaccinated kids, too, so long as they’re sticking together.) Off limits will be the popular maritime-themed Schooner Bar pub and Viking Crown nightclub, the casino, art auctions, and the indoor Solarium pool and bar. Gatherings such as the 1970s-themed party will be open only to vaccinated guests. If you aren’t immunized and want to see a show, you’ll sit in a segregated area in the back of the theater. And you can only use the gym during specified hours.

Additionally, both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests must wear masks indoors when not eating and drinking, although Bloomberg adds that “some venues that are only open to vaccinated guests will be able to nix the rule.”

“The people who are not vaccinated don’t want restrictions,” Cruise Planners travel adviser Mindy Breitman said. “And the people who are vaccinated don’t want to wear masks because of the non-vaxed on board.”

Last month, two passengers aboard a “fully vaccinated” cruise ship, Celebrity Millennium, tested positive for the Chinese coronavirus.

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