Cruises work around Florida law with separate areas for unvaccinated people

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This story came out a while ago but I’m just reading about it now and it was news to me. We’ve heard that Norwegian Cruise Lines is suing the state of Florida for their governor Ron DeSantis’s murderous laws prohibiting businesses from requiring customers to be vaccinated. Cruise lines want to make sure they can begin sailing again and so they’ve developed a workaround for cruises out of Florida. They’re placing passengers over 16 who either haven’t been vaccinated or who refuse to disclose their vaccinated status into separate areas and blocking their access to certain excursions and indoor activities. These unvaccinated passengers are also required to pay extra for several coronavirus tests throughout their trip. Of course these people are complaining about it. Oh well. Here’s more, from Bloomberg news.

Royal Caribbean’s 4,275-passenger Freedom of the Seas has restarted sailings from Miami to the Bahamas with two classes of passengers on board—those who’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19, and those who have not. 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.

Freedom is the first ship to depart the U.S. without a vaccination requirement, and it’s also the first to depart from the nation’s cruise capital of Miami. For all the city’s influence on the cruising industry, it’s also proved to be a difficult place to restart business, given that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has barred businesses from requiring vaccine cards.

“The cruise experience benefits from being impromptu,” says Jukka Laitamaki, a tourism marketing expert and professor at the NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality. Cruisers are typically free to hang out where they want, do what they want to do, and make friends. But unvaccinated cruisers on Freedom will find much of that restricted.

“It is the cruise lines’ worst nightmare to have to have separate areas for the vaccinated and unvaccinated,” Laitamaki says.

Royal Caribbean’s list of restrictions for Freedom, issued in mid-June, is a long one. It applies to all sailings on the ship in July—and likely to four other ships the line plans to launch from Florida this summer, with capacities of up to 6,680 passengers.

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.

At least for now, mask wearing is required indoors (but not outdoors) of everyone on board Freedom when not eating or drinking—though some venues that are only open to vaccinated guests will be able to nix the rule.

The trip will cost more for unvaccinated guests, too. Anyone over the age of 12 who doesn’t voluntarily show proof of vaccine will have to provide a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test taken within three days of departure. They’ll also have to pay for a second test at the pier and a third upon disembarking on the last day—totaling $136 or $178 per person, depending on the sailing.

[From Bloomberg]

Royal also makes unvaccinated passengers get travel insurance. In their first cruise, just 7% of the passengers were not vaccinated and most were children. I wish the cruise lines could restrict passengers to only those who are vaccinated and their children, but until then this sounds like a sensible workaround. If people want to cruise again they should get vaccinated. There is a very easy workaround to this and yet these people are still going on cruise ships, vectors of diseases and viruses, without being vaccinated.

Meanwhile legal experts say that businesses do have the right to ask customers and especially workers their vaccination status. There’s a meme which claims HIPAA prevents this but it’s not true, HIPAA doesn’t apply to vaccination status. USA Today writes “Businesses can ask patrons and employees whether they have been vaccinated. And people can then choose whether they want to answer or forego that service.” Exactly. I also hope this means that DeSantis gets smacked down by a judge.

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46 Responses to “Cruises work around Florida law with separate areas for unvaccinated people”

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  1. olliesmom says:

    Yuck. I’ve never been on a cruise and have no desire to go on one.

    Floating vessels of disease during “normal” times.

    Would not want to be trapped on a boat with the unvaxed, or as I like to refer to them as, the unclean. Do they have them locked in the part of the boat? Do they have them under armed guard 24/7? Otherwise I don’t trust them. They think that they can do what they want.

    Don’t feel sorry for them a bit at this point. We need to start being way harder on the unvaxed and denying them entry to more things. They have to pay more for testing? Too bad.

    • L4Frimaire says:

      Pre-Covid, Cruise ships were not floating vessels of disease. It’s not like an18th century prison barge rife with cholera, scurvy and smallpox. What exact diseases are you talking about? There have been Norovirus outbreaks on ships, but Norovirus is not exclusive to ships, it just gets more publicity on cruises, and many lines take precautions to prevent it. Covid has definitely changed things and the unvaccinated certainly don’t help.

      • nina says:

        Hard pass. I don’t need to contribute to the pollution of our oceans by these giant floating garbage dumps. They routinely dump their waste into the oceans and that is just what the coast guards have been able to catch. Who knows what they do in international waters.
        And don’t forget the amount of raw sewage and grey water they create. And they are allowed to dump it in the ocean after treating it with so called Marine Sanitation devices, which still allow for bacteria heavy metals and to get dumped in the ocean.

      • Amanda says:

        “Cruise ship travel presents a unique combination of health concerns. Travelers from diverse regions brought together in the often crowded, semi-enclosed environments onboard ships can facilitate the spread of person-to-person, foodborne, or waterborne diseases. Outbreaks on ships can be sustained for multiple voyages by transmission among crew members who remain onboard or by persistent environmental contamination. Port visits can expose travelers to local vectorborne diseases.”

        — CDC website

        A “unique” set of concerns. Yes, norovirus is a concern on a large ship packed with people, as is gastrointestinal distress. When people mass together for weeks on end in tight quarters, I mean it’s a Petrie dish. 🤷🏻‍♀️

  2. Rapunzel says:

    If you want choice, then you live with the consequences. I’m tired of folks catering to the idiots because they’re loud and obnoxious.

    • olliesmom says:

      My thoughts exactly. They are the MINORITY here. Why are we catering to them? Choices have consequences. Just like they scream “freedom of speech”. Yes, you can say whatever you want, but not without consequences. They don’t seem to understand that part and think that they can spout off whatever rolls across their brains and others (the “snowflakes” as they like to call us) should just accept it

    • LadyMTL says:

      Say it louder for the people in the back!
      I am sick of hearing people whine about this / vaccine passports / restrictions. If they choose not to get vaccinated, they have to live with the consequences. They made their beds, they can enjoy lying in them.

    • schmootc says:

      Couldn’t agree more. I don’t have much patience for it at this point. You made your choice. And I wish that there would actually be more consequences, as others have said.

      At my job, they’re asking people to be vaxed or else wear a mask if you aren’t or don’t want to report that you are. I don’t trust those people, I really don’t. I don’t want them around me. They can stay the hell home.

  3. Izzy says:

    I’ve been on exactly one cruise. It was fantastic, and the biggest selling point for me was the fact that it was a brand new ship – not as contaminated with germs yet. But cruising sucks when you are so restricted to where you can go and what you can do, and I am SO HAPPY those antivaxx nutjobs get to deal with those consequences.

  4. Gillysirl says:

    This reminds me of laws that some states are trying to pass (Arkansas, Missouri) preventing private companies from firing people who aren’t vaccinated. So much for “no big government”.

    • fluffy_bunny says:

      SCOTUS ruled prior that vaccines can be mandated. It was due to small pox so it’s been on the books for a while. Pretty sure the Supreme Court over rules state government.

      • BeanieBean says:

        Right. I remember when I went back to grad school in 2002, Oregon State required that I have a measles vax. Now, I had had measles as a kid, but I had no way to prove it, so I had to get the vax in order to go back to school. We’ve all been living with these kinds of rules/lawss for awhile, so I don’t see them changing just for covid/vaccine deniers.

      • Sondra Jackson says:

        @Gillysirl saysI am dealing with that at my company. Our Clients and Contractors are requiring everyone who enters their properties to be vaccinated. I just sent out a memo to the 4 employees who are not vaccinated, that they have to get the shot within 30 days. I am the HR Manager and I will not accept the paper cards, since I can make those on my computer and people are selling them, I am requiring a screenshot of the digital record of their vaccination. We have one employee who is a problem so I am bracing for his whining about taking it.

    • olliesmom says:

      Oh, they love laws and government stepping in when it supports/benefits them and only them and their views. Hypocrites every single one of them.

  5. cassandra says:

    I feel badly for all the workers on the cruise. They’re still getting exposed

  6. fluffy_bunny says:

    My only bookings are on Princess which is requiring 100% vaccinated passengers. I have 2 sailings booked. I will probably never sail out of FL again. I’ve only done Royal Caribbean once and was not a fan. I’m also not a fan of NCL.

  7. Becks1 says:

    I don’t think I will sail out of Florida until they change this rule (if they ever do.) I’m a big fan of Royal caribbean and I think they are doing the best they can here with the current Florida laws, but I do wish they would sue Florida like Norwegian is doing.

    As for the actual rules – meh, you dont want to get vaccinated? Here are some consequences.

  8. Willow says:

    Wouldn’t it be less expensive and less dangerous to just require vaccines and pay that fine? Even better, add the fine to the ticket price, labeled as, ‘DeSantis fee’.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      That is a wonderful idea!! I think that these restrictions and segregation against vaccinated v unvaccinated is a wonderful idea!! But you know that once they are on the ship, they will cause a melt down over the segregation. They always do!

      In regards to DeSantis and his disgusting behaviour during the pandemic, he and Abbot should both be charged with crimes for ignoring the health and safety of their residents. This is why the Delta variant is taking such a strong hold in Florida due to his lack of action against getting people vaccinated. Same with Texas, as we aren’t too far behind.

  9. Lizzie says:

    So a business doesn’t have to bake a cake for a gay wedding but a different business is forced to expose it’s employees to people who refuse to vaccinate against a deadly disease.

  10. Sunday says:

    Are the unvaccinated passengers still allowed to disembark the ship while in port in the Bahamas (and eventually other Caribbean islands), thereby spreading their pestilence among those populations?

    I mean, great that they have a segregated area for the unvaxxed, but *that’s not how AIR works.* In their own writeup they say that the unvaxxed will just sit in a separate section of the theater – good luck getting a drunk cruiser in that section to put their mask back on in between cocktails. And, a family traveling with kids wouldn’t be allowed to eat in some specialty restaurants, unless they leave the kids behind. Meaning, the kids could be sent to eat in the designated dining area while the (potential vector) parents are free to dine wherever they want, spreading whatever they’re carrying among the other guests.

    Also, testing “within 3 days” of departure and then a few times throughout doesn’t mean SH*T because as we all should know by now, covid can take weeks to show up on a test.

    And, none of that even includes the impacts of hundreds of unvaxxed people flying into Florida, staying in pre-cruise hotels, taking Ubers to the port, etc. Good thing the numbers in Florida aren’t already astronomical…

    This is idiotic, irresponsible, and will not end well.

  11. Gigi says:

    I am an avid cruiser and will not be boarding any ship that doesn’t require every single passenger to be vaxxed. My cruise group has a trip planned out of Miami in 2023 and I refuse to book it until vaccines are required for everyone. One of my favorite ships will be in my city next summer and I hope I can sail then (knowing NY they will require everyone to be vaxxed which hopefully means less kids).

    • fluffy_bunny says:

      Check out Princess. They are requiring 100% vaccinated. People are pissed because that means they can’t take their kiddies with them until the under 12 set gets approved for vaccination. I’ve been trying to do a specific itinerary since 2020 that I keep booking and things keep happening to it. I’ve got it booked for 2022 and 2023.

  12. pottymouth pup says:

    HIPAA doesn’t apply to people sharing their own personal health info (or a parent/spouse sharing that info for another). HIPAA applies to HCPs and others with access to that PHI divulging that information to someone the person/their legal guardian hasn’t specifically authorized to receive that information. If I know that my SIL has been diagnosed with a condition because she has discussed it with me and discuss that with others, I am not in violation of HIPAA. Now if I know, from my time working at a medical facility that a certain rightwing anti-choice zealot who talks about how abortion is murder & extra offensive to them as someone who’s lost their unborn child due to a developmental issue diagnosed during pregnancy actually made the decision to terminate that pregnancy and I shared that information with others (and/or looked at their records without being authorized or having legitimate reason to do so in the course of my work), I am in violation of HIPAA.

    The rightwingers screaming about HIPAA violations are, as usual, willfully ignorant

  13. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    Love cruising
    Miss it…
    Not going again for a lonnnnnnng time if ever

    • L4Frimaire says:

      Same here. We had to cancel a Mediterranean cruise last year and can’t envision going on another one for a few years, with the way things are right now. This really is the best workaround for the cruise lines because DeSantis is a ignorant stunt queen who has no interest in preserving public health or supporting the billion dollar cruise industry. Why would you even want to go on a ship with unvaccinated people and why do the unvaccinated think the rest of us want to face potential exposure just so they can eat at the buffet?

  14. ME says:

    This reminds me of when airplanes used to have “smoking” sections. Like the f*cking air travels you know ???

    • Lily says:

      🤣 so true! In both cases, it’s just a dumb marketing tactic to widen the appeal and consumer base.

  15. Lily says:

    Three things that will remain true as long as the virus is globally present:

    1. Being fully vaccinated will reduce the risk of you spreading it, getting seriously ill, being hospitalised and dying from it. It will REDUCE THE RISK of those things, not ELIMINATE them.

    2. We know with 100% certainty that the virus is transmissible through air. Even more so than touching infected droplets on a surface. You don’t even have to come in direct contact with an infected person, just breath air that has droplets in it.

    Therefore, having infected people enclosed in an area with vents connected to non infected areas is pretty much a guarantee that most will end up infected sooner or later.

    3. Going on a cruise, flying, vacationing, or just generally acting like the pandemic doesn’t exist means it’s your fault this still isn’t over. Essentially, you are prolonging the problem.

    It was said early on in the pandemic that if as many as possible around the world just limit movement for 3 or 4 weeks at the same time, we’d have a grip on it, and this thing could be over real quick. But business and economy under the guise of ‘freedom’ are far more important than people and their safety ☹️ In my eyes, the right to health and safety is true freedom.

    • ME says:

      100% agree with everything you said.

    • Valerie says:

      Yeah, I don’t know what to think. I want to say that if you’re fully vaccinated, you should feel free to travel because your risk has been lowered. You’re less likely to contract or transmit it. It seems that it’s the unvaccinated who are prolonging things. That’s why I feel like this type of sequestering is a good idea, because even if they get something, the likelihood of them passing it on (or passing a severe case on) to someone who is vaccinated is low.

      There are so many things to take into consideration, like kids and people who legitimately can’t get vaccinated. The latter are prob not going to be on a cruise ship anytime soon, but then what? Do they never go into a crowd again? It’s complicated. 🙁

      • Lily says:

        I don’t believe its complicated at all. It’s a pandemic. Now is not the time to be going on a cruise.

        If you have time, money and energy to expend, save it for helping those in real need in your community who are vulnerable and need assistance due the the pandemic.

        It’s really something to behold when people from the western world still insist on their ‘exotic vacation’ when people are dying and countries are being torn apart by this beast of a virus.

        Also the fact that the virus will continue to mutate and adapt to survive and transmit better with each infection, no matter if you’re vaccinated and won’t feel so sick, should you get infected.

        This is a time for personal responsibility, if ever there was one.

      • Valerie says:

        @Lily – I agree, I don’t think a cruise is necessary, and I don’t like the Western habit of exotifying the world around us. I have friends in the US who are travelling within the country, and I’m like, Um… or you could wait a bit. Some of them live in and are going to the worst areas too. I don’t understand it.

        I guess what I meant when I said it’s complicated is that it’s frustrating to feel like we’re getting somewhere, only to find that even the smallest of things can knock us back, almost to square one. Not so much the going on a cruise part, but the ability to do the things that the vaccine was supposed to give us the freedom to do. I’m so feckin’ sick of anti-v’s. They oppose for the sake of opposing, and it’s costing the rest of us in a big way.

        *And* I’m sick of politicians who can’t seem to stick to a deadline. If you say you’re going to shut things down for 4 weeks, that means 4 weeks! Not 3.5 because people are getting antsy. Their own impatience and lack of a backbone don’t help either.

  16. Valerie says:

    Not an American or cruise-taker, but I’m fine with this. These people don’t want to be part of regular society anyway. They pride themselves on being lone wolves or part of a different, supposedly stronger pack. Let them sequester themselves.

    ETA: That said, my view might be a simplistic one. I hope this is a good enough fix.

  17. Dee says:

    This is great and exactly how it should be for those who CHOOSE not to be vaccinated. People need to remember that COVID-19 is different from the other flu’s and illnesses that one typically gets vaccinated for. It’s not the chicken pox, it’s extremely deadly. People in different parts of the world who are struggling to get a vaccine while we are throwing them away in the US because people here still don’t believe in it.

    Children under 12 who cannot be vaccinated and traveling with parents who are vaccinated should be allowed the same access as their vaccinated parents because vaccines are not available yet for children.

  18. Lena says:

    Schools have always required vaccinations & remember the start of Covid in the beginning was cruise ship outbreaks. Death Santis indeed.

    • Valerie says:

      Do schools really check, though? I know they say that they’re required, but I’ve read posts from a few people (not on here) who’ve said that their school never verified their status. Some were vaccinated but knew others who weren’t, and they weren’t denied entry. I realize that’s anecdotal, I was just curious about your experience.

      The more I hear and see about the US, the more I realize that they’re “united” in name only. The differences between states and cities are just mind-boggling. They just let every district do whatever they want; there’s no cohesion. Everyone is pissed at everyone else. It’s like a free-for-all. All in the name of freedom. 🙁 I hope there’s a path to recovery somewhere. There has to be.

      • Jenny says:

        And yes… schools really check. You have to submit a vaccination record at the appropriate intervals.

      • Valerie says:

        @Jenny – interesting! I was hoping that they wouldn’t be THAT negligent. Good to hear that it’s kept on top of, at least where you are.

    • Jenny says:

      Except that they can’t mandate vaccinations while they’re still under EUA.

  19. Who ARE these people? says:

    Baloney. Private cruise lines have the right to prevent the spread of infection however they think best (which in this case, isn’t enough). Governments have the right to prioritize public health, including the regulation of private enterprise.

    This isn’t segregation. This isn’t separate drinking fountains for Black and White, or a ghetto established for Jews. Refusing vaccination against a highly infectious disease with a high death rate is a choice that can be made by anyone regardless of factors outside your control.

    Those truly worried about segregation can take up the cause of voting rights. That’s what set the US back.

    If you want to freely mingle with others again on or off the high seas, get vaccinated.

    • Truthiness says:

      100%. Let’s face it, some of the people infected may die from exposure to covid, cruise lines could be held financially liable. If people catch covid on a cruise, they will be known as Covid Cruises and suffer more loss of business.

      Race issues should not be conflated with vaccine issues, wtf. We have to fight for voting rights, all of us, they are targeting communities of color. It can’t be fixed with vaccines and masks so we all have to vote and help roll back the new Jim Crow laws.

    • ZeeEnnui says:


  20. Michael says:

    Lurker here….but I had to comment on this. I’m Canadian and got vaccinated as soon as it was possible – because our government told us to take the first vaccine possible. So I got an AstraZeneca shot as my first and a Moderna as my second (same as our Prime Minister). According to the cruise line (I’m looking at you, Norwegian), not only am I NOT vaccinated, I can’t even sail on any of their ships sailing from a US port. I can. however, sail on NCL from a non-US port and they magically consider me fully vaccinated! I planned 2 cruises for next year (replacing the 2 that were cancelled….) for my mom’s 74th and 75th, because (and I realize and understand that some people view cruising as an environmental crapshow) this is the only way my mom gets to travel, visit and appreciate places she wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to (she got 2 x Pfizer shots, so she’s ok in their eyes but isn’t travelling without me).
    It isn’t only anti-vaxxers that are being screwed by this (although screw them and there’s no way I’m getting on a cruise line that allows and encourages them to travel – I’m looking at you, MSC).
    in the end, my mom is disappointed that the cruises aren’t happening and I’m really po’d that I can’t finally treat her and give her the gift she deserves.
    (BTW, thanks to all you commenters – and to CB – you all got me through a 16 month- and counting – work from home and I’m really grateful!)