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CDC Health Guidelines: Not good enough for Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise's Carnival Glory supports New Orleans post-Ida recovery

Carnival Cruise Line’s Have Fun. Be Safe. protocols and procedures have been developed in consultation with medical experts. They are designed to be effective and adaptable as the current public health situation evolves.
Until further notice, all Carnival operations will meet this that the cruise liner can successfully restart operations and maintain the confidence of the destinations that they visit and deliver on their itineraries and guest experiences.

  • Carnival Cruise Line is the first cruise line to set sail from the Port of Baltimore since the industry-wide pause in operations. 
  • Carnival Pride is set to depart today on a seven-day cruise to The Bahamas, visiting the popular destinations of Nassau, Freeport and the private island of Half Moon Cay. 
  • Prior to departure, a “Back to Fun” event was held in the terminal during which Carnival President Christine Duffy, Carnival Pride Captain Maurizio Ruggiero and Port of Baltimore Executive Director William P. Doyle cut the ceremonial ribbon and officially welcomed the first guests on board.

“We’re thrilled to be back in Baltimore, providing our guests with the relaxing vacation they’ve been so patiently waiting for but also supporting the local economy and offering our crew members an opportunity to support their families back home,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.  “Baltimore has been a wonderful partner for more than a decade and we are delighted to get Back to Fun in this key market which serves hundreds of thousands of guests in the Northeast and along the Atlantic Coast.”

“What a great day for the Port of Baltimore!” said Port of Baltimore Executive Director William P. Doyle. “We have waited a long time to welcome back the Carnival Pride to Charm City.  Baltimore’s Cruise Maryland is terrific — our cruise terminal is directly off Interstate 95 and BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport is only 15 minutes away.  The cruise terminal sits alongside Baltimore’s world famous Inner Harbor, as well as Federal Hill, Fort McHenry, and Fells Point.  There’s plenty of sightseeing, dining, and shopping options.  So cruise from Baltimore, enjoy our great city, and sail to some of the most incredible tropical paradises in the world.”  

Carnival Cruise Line launched the first year-round cruise program from Baltimore in 2009 and since then has carried well over one million guests, making Carnival the number one cruise operator from the port. 

In November, a newer ship, Carnival Legend, will replace Carnival Pride in Baltimore when Carnival Pride shifts to departures from Tampa. 

Carnival offers the widest array of cruise options from Baltimore, including:

WTM London 2022 will be taking place from 7-9 November 2022. Register now!

  • Six- and seven-day sailings to Bermuda and The Bahamas
  • Eight-day voyages to Canada/New England and the Caribbean
  • 14-day Carnival Journeys sailings to the Panama Canal and the exotic southern Caribbean.  
  • A Carnival Sailabration voyage aboard Carnival Legend in March 2022with special onboard activities and entertainment in conjunction with Carnival Cruise Line’s 50th Birthday festivities. 

Carnival’s operational protocols exceed the recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Carnival will continue to operate vaccinated cruises as defined by the CDC, including having all crew fully vaccinated.

In an abundance of caution and in response to the increasing number of cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. caused by the Delta variant, Carnival has been updating protocols and requirements regarding pre-cruise testing for fully vaccinated guests and onboard mask policy.

Carnival expects these measures will be temporary and will adjust our protocols based on the advice of medical and public health advisors.

Here are measures adopted and communicated by Carnival Cruise Line


All guests should carefully review pre-booking and pre-travel health advice on our website and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website .

PRE-BOARDING INFORMATION: In order to manage our vaccinated sailings, it is very important for all guests to be on the look-out for a one question pre-cruise vaccine attestation email which needs to be completed for every person on the reservation. Guests are asked to update their profile on with their current contact information as we will be communicating through a series of emails. Please read all our correspondence and complete all requests for pre-boarding information. Failure to comply with pre-cruise information requests on a timely basis will result in cancellation.


Fully Vaccinated Guests

Vaccinated cruises are available for guests who have received their final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the sailing day and have proof of vaccination.

For sailings departing through September 12, 2021, fully vaccinated guests must also present the negative results of a COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) taken within three days prior to embarkation. For example, if the sailing is on Saturday, the test may be taken any time from Wednesday through Friday. Guests may also take the test on the morning of embarkation so long as they are guaranteed to receive their test results before their time of check-in.

Effective with sailings as of September 13, 2021, the CDC requires pre-cruise testing for vaccinated guests to be taken within two days prior to the sailing date. If the sailing is on Saturday, the test may be taken on Thursday and Friday, and as late as Saturday, if you are guaranteed to receive your results in time for check-in.

Proof of vaccination, as follows, will be required at the terminal in advance of boarding:

  • Original vaccination record issued by the country’s health authority that administered the vaccination (i.e., U.S. CDC’s Vaccination Record Card). Copies or photos are not accepted.
  • A digital COVID-19 Certificate (QR code acceptable), a record of COVID-19 vaccination from a healthcare provider (original digital email accepted), a personal electronic health record or government Immunization Information System record is also acceptable.
  • The name and birth date on the vaccination record must match the guest’s travel documents and show the guest is fully vaccinated. The vaccination dates must indicate the guest has completed the required doses no later than 14 days prior to the sailing date. This means that on embarkation day, 15 days will have passed since the final dose was received. Vaccine type, dates administered, and lot numbers must be clearly visible.

We recommend guests have the contact information (email and phone) immediately available of the healthcare provider or clinic site that issued the certificate, in order to validate the vaccination if needed. A vaccination registry site may also be used.

Guests are strongly encouraged to review their vaccination records and ensure they meet our standards, as well as have proof of their negative COVID-19 test result, prior to traveling to the cruise terminal to prevent a situation where they may not be able to cruise or be eligible for a refund.

For cruises departing the U.S., the CDC requires both vaccines in a 2-dose series to be of the same type. They also accept mixing mRNA vaccines only (Pfizer and Moderna). No other vaccine combination meets the criteria to be considered fully vaccinated. For example, Canadian or other international guests who received a combination of AstraZeneca and Pfizer are considered unvaccinated by the CDC. Guests who are not fully vaccinated, according to these criteria, will be considered unvaccinated and need to apply for a vaccination exemption.

Unvaccinated Guests — Exemptions to Vaccination Standards

Requirements for cruise ships to enter ports outside the U.S. continue to evolve and Carnival Cruise Line must operate in full compliance with these regulations. Vaccine exemptions for cruises to the Caribbean will be limited to a very small number of children under 12, and teens and adults with a medical condition who can provide written confirmation from their medical provider that they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. Our sailings from Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Maryland will operate under these criteria until December 31, 2021 with the assumption that current and evolving restrictions imposed by destinations will remain in place.

Vaccine exemptions for ships departing from Long Beach, California will continue to be accepted for children under 12 and as required by U.S. federal law (in accommodation of medical reasons and sincerely held religious beliefs).

On Carnival Miracle® from Seattle; Carnival Pride® October 31, 2021 from Baltimore; Carnival Glory® November 28, 2021 from New Orleans; and Carnival Miracle® November 28, 2021 from Long Beach, vaccine exemptions will only be accommodated as required by law.

Exemptions for children and adults are not guaranteed and are capacity-controlled based on the total number of vaccinated guests projected to be on board. Unvaccinated guests granted an exemption must abide by certain requirements and protocols, which include:

  • Presenting a negative PCR COVID-19 test at check-in, taken between 72 and 24 hours prior to the sailing date (for example, if the sailing is on Saturday, the test may be taken any time from Wednesday through Friday, but not on the morning of embarkation). Unvaccinated guests must take an additional antigen test at embarkation, and test again within 24 hours of debarkation on all cruises longer than 4 days. A US$150 per person charge will be assessed to the guest’s onboard Sail and Sign account to cover the cost of testing, reporting and health and safety screenings. Children under two are exempt from testing requirements.
Travel Insurance Requirement — Florida and Texas Based Ships
  • Unvaccinated guests sailing on a ship departing from Florida or Texas must show proof of travel insurance coverage during check-in. (See section below for full details on travel insurance requirements.)
Doctor’s Note — Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Maryland Based Ships
  • If you received a vaccination exemption for medical reasons, a letter from a medical provider stating the guest cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons must be presented at check-in.
Shore Visits and Excursions
  • Unvaccinated guests cannot go ashore in the ports of call on their own. Guests may only debark in the ports of call if booked on a Carnival-sponsored bubble tour.
  • Carnival-approved bubble tours are excursions that operate in a controlled environment. Guests will be escorted from the ship to their excursion and back to the ship immediately upon return from the shore excursion. No unscheduled stops are permitted (i.e., gift shops, bars, restaurants, etc.).
  • In the event you choose not to purchase a bubble tour, bubble tours are sold out, or cancelled due to weather, unvaccinated guests will have to remain on board.
  • Guests participating in a bubble tour, regardless of vaccination status, must follow all tour protocols and local guidance regarding testing/screening, mask wearing, physical distancing, etc. We cannot guarantee that additional restrictions will not be imposed by local authorities in the destinations we visit. For example, based on our agreement with San Juan, unvaccinated guests will have to remain on board during our visit there.
  • Guests who do not comply with the controlled environment of a bubble tour will be removed from the tour.
  • If your cruise visits a private port of call, such as Half Moon Cay and Princess Cays, unvaccinated guests may go ashore on their own or purchase any of our tours.

Please refer to our Return to Service FAQs for a complete list of our protocols and requirements, which continue to evolve and may change without prior notice.

A request for a capacity-managed exemption must be submitted within 48 hours of making a new reservation. Requests will be processed after the booking is paid in full, in sailing date order, and once we have finalized the estimated vaccinated guest count.

If you are an unvaccinated guest, your reservation is not considered confirmed unless you receive an approved exemption, which will be issued within 14 days of sailing. Any unvaccinated guests whose exemptions are approved will be required to review and agree to all the restrictions and protocols listed above prior to boarding the ship.

If we are unable to approve the request, guests will have the option to cancel the unvaccinated guest(s) from a reservation, move to a future sailing date or cancel with a full refund to the original form of payment. Unfortunately, we cannot assist with expenses related to a denied exemption request, and guests assume all risks related to non-refundable travel costs (i.e., air fare, hotel).

We recognize that unvaccinated guests will face temporary restrictions during the initial phase of our restart, along with additional costs for testing and insurance and are optimistic these protocols will continue to evolve over time.

All guests traveling on back to back cruises, regardless of vaccination status, will need to be tested in between voyages.


  • Unvaccinated guests sailing on a ship departing from Florida or Texas must show proof of travel insurance coverage during check-in. This requirement is currently being waived for children under 12 who are ineligible for a vaccine. However, parents are advised that purchasing travel insurance for their children is strongly recommended.
  • Policy requirements: a minimum of US$10,000, per person, in medical expense coverage and US$30,000 coverage for emergency medical evacuation and without COVID-19 exclusions.
  • The insurance policy must name the unvaccinated guest as the policy holder or beneficiary and may be purchased from a travel insurance company of the guest’s choosing or through Carnival Vacation Protection, which includes the required coverage.
  • Carnival Vacation Protection is available for purchase until 14 days prior to sailing for guests residing in the U.S. (excluding New York and Puerto Rico), Canada (excluding Quebec), U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix) and American Samoa. (Note: your booking must be paid in U.S. currency.) Should you wish to purchase Carnival Vacation Protection, please call 1-800-CARNIVAL, your Personal Vacation Planner, or your travel advisor.
  • Unvaccinated guests without the required proof of insurance will not be permitted to sail and no refund will be provided.

* Based on requirements of certain destinations. Some destination ports to which we sail are operated by Carnival affiliated entities under government concessions or licenses.


All guests will be asked to complete an online health questionnaire 72 hours prior to sailing and undergo enhanced pre-embarkation health screenings, which will include confirmation of their health screening responses, validation of their vaccination documents and any required COVID-19 testing.

We will refer anyone with signs and symptoms of COVID-19, or who are identified at-risk, for additional medical screening before allowing them to board. Guests will be seen by our medical staff and boarding will be approved at their discretion. Secondary screenings (and health checks throughout the cruise) will be performed when necessary.

Any guest who tests positive at embarkation, and their traveling companions in the same stateroom, along with other close contacts, will not be able to cruise and will be provided a future cruise credit. (A close contact is any individual who has been within 6 feet of an infected/symptomatic person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period within 14 days prior to sailing.)


Carnival Cruise Line’s policy is that everyone must be vaccinated, with a very small number of exceptions for children under 12 and those unable to be vaccinated. This approach exceeds the requirements for vaccinated cruises under the CDC’s guidance, and meets requirements set by the destinations we sail to on our cruises.

In addition to vaccinated cruises, we have implemented a comprehensive set of protocols as part of our restart, with the best interests of the health and safety of our guests, crew and the destinations we serve as our number one priority. Due to breakthrough cases of COVID-19 occurring across the country among those who are vaccinated, our pre-cruise testing requirements were expanded to include ALL guests. We have also expanded our mask requirements requiring guests to wear masks indoors in more enclosed spaces and areas where people congregate.

Even with these protocols in place, there may be positive COVID-19 cases on board during your cruise. Our ships have medical centers with capabilities for diagnosis and testing and are equipped for contact tracing. Our crew is fully vaccinated and wears masks indoors at all times. Given our protocols, positive cases are far below what communities are experiencing shoreside. However, given the Delta variant is causing a rise in cases among the vaccinated population, it is important that you are aware of the following information:

  • In the event guests are in close contact with or exposed to any guest or crew member who tests positive for COVID-19, or display any symptoms for a COVID-like illness during the cruise, they and their close contacts will be required to undergo additional testing and may be required to quarantine in their stateroom until our medical team determines it is safe for them to resume their cruise activities.
  • If guests traveled by air to join their cruise and test positive at embarkation and are not able to cruise — or test positive during the cruise — they and their close contacts may be required to quarantine before traveling home.
  • Guests who are quarantined on board will receive a pro-rated future cruise credit equal to the number of days in quarantine.
  • For guests who must quarantine locally, Carnival will help make quarantine arrangements; however, all related expenses will be the guests’ responsibility.


We strongly encourage all guests to wear face masks when indoors, particularly guests who are unvaccinated, including children under the age of 12 who should wear masks in public areas, except when eating or drinking. All guests age 2 and older will be required to wear face masks in elevators and in designated indoor entertainment areas, all retail shops, and in the casino, except when eating or drinking. Guests will be required to wear face masks prior to being seated in our main dining rooms and in the Lido Buffet area and occasionally in other designated areas where larger number of guests may congregate (signs will be posted). Additionally, masks are required in enclosed areas of the ship such as the spa, salon, and at any indoor activity with children under 12 years (i.e., Build-A-Bear®, Family Harbor and Sky Zone®).

All guests must wear masks during the entire embarkation and debarkation process (at the home port and ports of call, including the onboard pre-debarkation process), during any Carnival-approved shore excursions and while on any transportation vehicles, including water shuttles. Additionally, when going ashore, guests must be prepared to follow all local guidance regarding masks and physical distancing. The status of local guidelines will be shared with guests prior to debarkation at the destination.

NOTE: Alaska health officials monitoring the situation ashore have strongly recommended that all guests, including those fully vaccinated, wear a face mask at all times while indoors and also outside when physical distancing cannot be maintained. U.S. regulations require all persons to wear a face mask on public transportation including buses, trains, vans, airports, aircraft and dayboats.

Vaccinated guests are not required to maintain physical distance on board the ship.

It is recommended that unvaccinated guests maintain physical distancing as follows:

  • Indoors – Remain at least 6 feet from others not in your cruise companion group. As such, we encourage you to take the stairs whenever possible, if you are able to do so.
  • Outdoors – Remain at least 3 feet from others when not wearing a mask and not in your cruise companion group.


Camp Ocean™: Supervised children’s programs for children under the age of 12 in Camp Ocean will not be offered at this time.

Circle “C”® & CLUB O2®: Unvaccinated youth and teenagers will not be permitted to participate in supervised Circle “C” and CLUB O2 youth programs, or access Sky Zone® if cruising on Carnival Panorama®.


To promote safety, physical distancing and public health, we have updated our onboard casino protocols, effective Saturday, September 11.

  • Casinos are for active players and their companions only; there is no gathering in the casinos otherwise.
  • Seats at gaming tables and slots are reserved for players only.
  • There is no smoking in the casino unless you are seated and playing.
  • Smoking will not be permitted in the casino when closed.
  • Guests will be expected to wear a facemask unless they are smoking or drinking their beverage.
  • The casino bar is closed; drinks will be delivered to casino players by our bar staff.

We appreciate our guests’ support of these protocols implemented with everyone’s best interests in mind.


Vaccinated guests may participate in Carnival-operated tours and independent sightseeing. Unvaccinated guests cannot go ashore in the ports of call on their own. Guests may only debark in the ports of call if booked on a Carnival-sponsored bubble tour. However, if their cruise visits a private port of call, such as Half Moon Cay and Princess Cays, unvaccinated guests may go ashore on their own or purchase any of our tours.

It will be necessary to follow the health protocols for every port we visit, which are under the control of local authorities and subject to change without prior notice. Guests must come prepared to follow local guidance pertaining to mask wearing, physical distancing, testing/health screenings, etc.

NOTE: Our destination requirements continue to evolve and based on our port agreement with San Juan, unvaccinated guests will have to remain on board during that call.


Please help us maintain a healthy onboard environment by using the hand-washing sinks and hand sanitizer dispensers at venue entrances and in high-traffic areas throughout the ship. We will also need guests to follow our guidance about the ways to stay healthy on board and when ashore, through daily programming, entertainment systems, announcements, in-stateroom literature, and the Carnival HUB App.


Due to new embarkation processes, all guests will need to complete Online Check-In and select an Arrival Appointment. Online Check-In is available for Suite, Platinum and Diamond guests at 16 days prior to sailing; general access begins at 14 days prior to sailing. It is important that guests arrive on a timely basis as early arrivals cannot be accommodated and will be asked to return at their assigned time. With everyone’s cooperation, we can work together to guarantee an on-time departure and the start of your vacation!


  • Carnival Vista® from Galveston
  • Carnival Horizon® from Miami
  • Carnival Breeze® from Galveston
  • Carnival Miracle® from Seattle
  • Mardi Gras™️ from Port Canaveral
  • Carnival Magic® from Port Canaveral
  • Carnival Sunrise® from Miami
  • Carnival Panorama® from Long Beach
  • Carnival Pride® from Baltimore; Sailings starting September 12, 2021
  • Carnival Dream® from Galveston; Sailings starting September 19, 2021
  • Carnival Glory® from New Orleans; Sailings starting September 19, 2021
  • Carnival Miracle® from Long Beach; Sailings starting September 27, 2021
  • Carnival Freedom® from Miami; Sailings starting October 9, 2021
  • Carnival Elation® from Port Canaveral; Sailings starting October 11, 2021
  • Carnival Valor® from New Orleans; Sailings starting November 1, 2021
  • Carnival Legend® from Baltimore; Sailings starting November 14, 2021
  • Carnival Pride® from Tampa; Sailings starting November 14, 2021
  • Carnival Conquest® from Miami; Sailings starting December 13, 2021
  • Carnival Radiance® from Long Beach; Sailings starting December 13, 2021

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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