Disney Cruise Line updated its immunization policy for guests on Wednesday, requiring all children over the age of 5 to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The vaccine mandate will go into effect on Jan. 13 and will apply to sailings both in the United States and abroad. Until then, unvaccinated guests between the ages of 5 and 11 must take a pre-departure coronavirus test. Currently, guests age 12 and up and all crew members on Disney ships must be fully vaccinated.
The new requirement comes after federal regulators recently cleared Pfizer-BioNTech’s pediatric vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 earlier.
Like Disney, most other major cruise lines have required passengers 12 and older to be fully vaccinated. While some companies like Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Group and MSC Cruises have allowed unvaccinated children on board ships with testing requirements, some sailings have had to limit numbers on board because of policies that require at least 95 percent of passengers to be fully vaccinated.
Last week, the chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean, Richard Fain, said he expects an update on vaccine protocols for children soon, but no changes have been announced yet.
“I think we’re moving in the direction where every cruise will have 100 percent of the crew vaccinated and 95 or more percent of the guests,” he said at a media event on board Odyssey of the Seas, a cruise ship owned by Royal Caribbean.
Norwegian Cruise Line has one of the most stringent immunization policies, requiring all passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated — including eligible children — and recently announced that the rules would be extended “indefinitely” in the near future. It bars ineligible children from sailings.
To encourage family cruise vacations, Holland American Line recently announced a new offer allowing fully vaccinated children ages 5 to 17 to sail for free as third and fourth guests in the same stateroom.
“Now that kids ages 5 and older can receive the Covid-19 vaccine, getting out and seeing the world is on everyone’s mind,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line.