Carnival Cruise Line, the namesake line of cruising giant Carnival Corp., will sail in July from Port of Galveston with vaccinated passengers.
Carnival Vista is scheduled to depart July 3 and Carnival Breeze on July 15.
To board, passengers will have had to complete the final dose of their COVID vaccine 14 days ahead of embarkation, according to a news release from the cruise line.
Carnival Horizon is on track to sail in July from Miami, and Carnival said it will announce onboard protocols for that ship Friday. The cruise line added it is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and with the state of Florida, which has banned businesses from requiring proof of vaccination.
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It was unclear whether the sailings confirmed by Carnival’s announcement would be test cruises or if they would include paying passengers – which are separate tracks on the CDC’s path to resuming regular cruise operations.
According to a CDC list of approved cruises provided by CDC spokesperson Caitlin Shockey, Carnival Vista and Carnival Horizon were both approved for test cruises with volunteer passengers. The Carnival Breeze has not yet received approval for sailing, according to the list.
In order to bypass test cruises and move straight into sailings with paying passengers, 95% of passengers and 95% of crew must be vaccinated, per the CDC.
Test cruises, which will be filled with volunteer nonpaying passengers, do not have the same mandate. But volunteer passengers are still required to share information about their vaccination status on test cruises, creating a murky situation regarding cruising’s restart from the Sunshine State.
Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a statement that the company has chosen to operate with vaccinated guests during the month of July in U.S. waters because of CDC constraints.
Late last month, Carnival announced its plans to sail from Texas and Florida but did not specify at the time whether passengers would be required to have a COVID vaccine.
“The current CDC requirements for cruising with a guest base that is unvaccinated will make it very difficult to deliver the experience our guests expect, especially given the large number of families with younger children who sail with us,” Duffy said.
USA TODAY has reached out to Carnival for more information.
Follow Morgan Hines on Twitter: @MorganEmHines.
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