COVID vaccinations have been a hot topic in the cruise world since they were first released to the public. Both travelers and important figures in the industry have had heated opinions about whether they should be required or not. Even Ron DeSantis took the issue to court to try to open things up without the need of vaccines. While the CDC offered cruise lines the option to skip vaccine requirements via test cruises, most companies went ahead and just required the shots anyway. This was a simpler and faster solution. A majority of adults in America are vaccinated at this point, but the booster shot complicates things. Are cruise lines going to start requiring booster shots for travelers? Let’s look at what we know so far.
The definition of “fully vaccinated”
For many cruise lines, their choice of whether to require boosters or not will likely hinge on governmental decisions. The current Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) from the CDC lasts until January 15th, 2022. This order uses the term “fully vaccinated” to refer to those who are allowed to cruise under the CSO. However, the definition of “fully vaccinated” hangs in the balance at the moment. It originally referred to those who had received either one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine or two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. However, with boosters now recommended for most populations, it’s unclear whether “fully vaccinated” refers to those who have received the booster or not.
Fauci weighs in
In regards to the definition of “fully vaccinated,” Dr. Anthony Fauci weighed in on December 12th. He stressed the importance of the booster while also saying that the government wasn’t actively working to change “fully vaccinated” to mean boosted. He did say, however, that it is his personal opinion that it’s “when, not if” the definition of “fully vaccinated” will change. So that means that, despite it likely happening eventually, the definition isn’t changing now.
Boosters required in France
One country is moving towards requiring boosters, though, and that applies to cruise travelers. France, starting on January 15th, 2022, will ask all cruise guests to show proof of a booster to step onto French soil. AIDA Cruises spoke about this in detail: “This means that if the second vaccination was more than seven months ago (for Johnson & Johnson two months after the first vaccination), a booster vaccination is necessary before departure. There must be at least 14 days between booster vaccination and travel start. If you have not yet received a booster vaccination, shore leave in France is unfortunately not possible.”
In short, most countries are not yet requiring a booster for cruise travel. With that said, though, it’s reasonable to assume that it’s only a matter of time until boosters are needed. So if you’re on the fence, now might be the time to get the shot!