The case for mandating Covid-19 vaccinations to board a cruise ship.
Should Covid-19 vaccinations be mandated for all guests & crew?
One small UK-based cruise line has already done it. Saga Cruises now requires all crew and guests to have proof of a Covid19 vaccination. No vaccination, no boarding – that simple!
The Washington Post reported Saga Cruises’ position this way, “We have made the decision not to allow a guest to travel with us if they choose not to receive the vaccine.” He went on to say, “The majority of our guests fall into the at-risk age bracket and our priority is their safety and wellbeing.”
So far none of the major cruise lines have put in place a mandatory requirement, but they are hedging their bets. Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (Norwegian, Oceania & Regent Seven Seas), said his attorneys are looking into whether they could place a mandatory vaccination requirement on passengers.
So, should all cruise lines require Covid-19 vaccinations? Definitely!
Part of a multi-prong strategy to minimize the spread of Covid-19.
It becomes part of a multi-prong strategy to minimize the potential spread of Covid-19 which has decimated the cruise industry for the past year. The US already requires anyone entering the US to obtain a Covid-19 test within 72 hours of entry to the US. It requires masks on all modes of public transportation including trains, planes, and buses. The CDC has required cruise lines to implement extensive health and safety requirements for cruise lines to sail again. So mandating vaccinations for all guests and crew is not only a logical next step, but a critical step to ensure the health, safety and well-being of passengers, crew and the cruise industry.
The virus is spreading and mutating.
While a Covid-19 vaccine may be up to 95% effective against you getting sick (symptomatic prevention) from Covid-19, scientists are unclear whether vaccinations can prevent you from transmitting the virus. The more it spreads, the more it will mutate which could lead to stronger, more virulent strains of it developing. This is why wearing a mask is still important even if you’ve been vaccinated. It is a two-prong strategy. Vaccinations eliminate or substantially reduce the ability of the virus to make you ill, while masks prevent the spread of the virus to others which allows it to mutate as it spreads.
Protection for passengers and crew.
Requiring all guests and crew to be vaccinated accomplishes several things. First, it would likely prevent a “breakout” of illness onboard, like we saw in February of 2020. While it might be possible for the virus to infect a few guests or crew, they most likely would experience only mild symptoms, if any. Second, we may learn soon, that vaccinations provide immunity to the virus and/or that it prevents the spread of the virus. Third, mandatory vaccination requirements would provide “peace-of-mind” to passengers and crew, which could lead to increased confidence among potential cruisers that it is safe to travel again.
Protection and salvation for cruise lines.
Covid-19 has ravaged cruise lines. We are coming up to a full year with no cruise ships sailing. Cruise lines’ financial bottom lines have been decimated. So far, they’ve weathered this storm, but they desperately need to get sailing again. And we need them to sail safety. Requiring vaccinations of everyone on a ship would prevent the mass quarantining and restricting guests to their cabin like we saw last year. Ships were stranded at sea. Remember, many people died, many more got very ill. All of that would be eliminated if everyone onboard was vaccinated.
Will the cruise industry have the will to implement this requirement?
Norwegian and Regent Seven Seas have announced they will require crew to be vaccinated to protect the crew and guests. The industry says it is evaluating its options. But that isn’t enough, they need to mandate vaccinations themselves or the CDC should mandate for them!
How will guests respond?
It will be a mix. Cruise Critic conducted a survey of its readers. “Of those who would cruise, we see a mix between people who are fine with the concept of a mandate, and others who would actually feel more safe if that were the case – knowing that others onboard, and they themselves, have been vaccinated,” Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, told The Points Guy. Actually, 81% said they would sail if vaccinations were required and only 5% said they would not. The remainder were not sure.
But this is a health and safety issue. We’ve seen what this virus has done to the cruise industry. Travel is a privilege, not a right. To protect the health of its guests, crew and its own viability, Covid-19 vaccinations should be mandatory for everyone.
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