The ongoing war over vaccination between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and cruise line operating from Florida has taken a sharp new turn with a Bahamas order banning all cruise ships with unvaccinated passengers or crews from its ports and waters, including cruise lines' private islands.
The order takes effect September 3, and will be in force for at least two months as the world deals with the spread of the Delta variant. Bahamas authorities will require a passenger manifest showing vaccination status, and will make exceptions only for those with a pre-approved medical exemption. The U.S. Virgin Islands is imposing similar rules, and Puerto Rico will not allow unvaxed passengers to disembark.
Florida law bars cruise lines from requesting or requiring proof of vaccination from cruise passengers, while common sense and health regulations require it. One cruise line, NCL, has succeeded in getting an injunction barring Florida from enforcing the rule, although the state says it will appeal. It seems likely now that other lines will follow this route.
Responses collected by the Cruise Critic website indicate the lines are also preparing to meet the new rule. Carnival has notified passengers they must present evidence for exemption at least two weeks in advance; MSC has told passengers they must comply or be refused boarding, as has Royal Caribbean.
Since implementing those requirements can put the lines in danger of a fine up to $5000 per passenger just for asking, it seems inevitable that they will be down at the courthouse by Monday morning, asking for an injunction similar to NCL's.
UPDATE: Royal Caribbean and Carnival join in requiring vax for all
Both major cruise lines have now responded to the Bahamas requirement by announcing that they will not allow unvaccinated passengers over age 12 to sail, despite Florida's gag rule. It is not clear whether they have filed in court for an injunction similar to the one obtained by NCL.
Image: Cruise ships in the Bahamas (VitaminSea53/CruiseCritic.com)