(12:00 p.m. EDT) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finally dropped its Travel Health Notice for cruises on Friday, April 1, removing its COVID-19 travel warnings for cruises for the first time since the pandemic started.
That same day, Carnival Cruise Line made the latest updates to its own COVID-19 policies. One of the most notable updates the line instated was allowing children under the age of 12 to go ashore without being required to join a Carnival shore excursion.
According to the line's current Have Fun. Be Safe. COVID-19 Guest Protocols, unvaccinated children age 11 and under "may go ashore with their vaccinated parents/guardians to enjoy independent sightseeing" while in port.
Note that unvaccinated children will only be granted the privilege of getting off the boat sans shore excursion if they are accompanied by vaccinated adults. Children 12 and over who are unvaccinated may still only go ashore via vetted and booked Carnival shore excursions.
However, exceptions do apply as cruise ships are often at the mercy of the regulations set by the particular ports they visit.
For example, all unvaccinated cruisers, regardless of age, visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico or Limon, Costa Rica will be required to stay on board at the port. In Bermuda, Bonaire, Grand Cayman, St. Kitts and Tortola, any unvaccinated guests age 12 and older will have to remain on board in port, and any unvaccinated guests age 16 and up must remain on the ship while visiting Grand Turk.
Carnival sails with a limited percentage of unvaccinated guests per sailing, mostly children (though also guests who have been granted medical or religious vaccine exemptions). This means space for unvaccinated guests is minimal, and allotments are processed for fully paid bookings in sailing order. Approval is granted within 14 days of sailing at which point cruisers have the option to remove the unvaccinated guest from their booking, switch to a later sailing date or cancel for a refund.