Disney Cruise Line will soon be ending all testing requirements for fully vaccinated guests! This covers details on the dropping of health safety protocol, exceptions to the policy change, plus our commentary about this and another relaxed rule.
In a statement, Disney Cruise Line prefaced its announcement by offering a reminder that beginning on September 2, 2022, for sailings departing U.S. and Canadian ports, Disney Cruise Line will only require Guests ages 12 and older to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at the time of sailing, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This comes about one month after the CDC ended its COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships. In their place, there’s new CDC Guidance for Cruise ships on the Mitigation and Management of COVID-19. The key distinction between the two is that the latter is exactly what the name suggests–guidelines, rather than binding rules. This means that cruise operators like DCL are free to create their own policies.
With that in mind, beginning September 23, 2022, for Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, and Disney Wish sailings departing the U.S., fully vaccinated Guests are no longer required to participate in COVID-19 testing. November 7, 2022 is the end date for fully vaccinated guests sailing aboard the Disney Magic.
Unvaccinated Guests (ages 11 and younger) will need to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken 1-3 days before the sail date. Unvaccinated Guests will no longer be required to complete a second COVID-19 test at the terminal on embarkation day.
Here’s a handy chart from DCL that breaks it down:
Here’s the rest of the email we received for an upcoming sailing aboard Disney Cruise Line (note that *several* emails have gone out this morning–this is the final and official information):
Upload Proof of Vaccination and/or COVID-19 Test Results
In order to sail, all guests 12 and older (who are required to be vaccinated), plus those under 12 that are vaccinated, must upload their proof of vaccination to the Inspire Diagnostics Safe Passage website by midnight prior to embarkation day. Unvaccinated Guests must upload a negative COVID-19 test result to the Inspire Diagnostics Safe Passage website by midnight prior to embarkation day. Uploading these documents is a requirement for adults and children, regardless of age. A parent or legal guardian will need to use their own account to provide this information on behalf of minors. To learn more about how to provide proof of your negative COVID-19 test result, please visit Before Leaving Home: Know Before You Go.
After appropriate documents have been uploaded and reviewed by Inspire, Guests should see the words “Clear to Arrive” or “Clear to Sail” in the Pre-Sail Screening section when they log into their Safe Passage account before arriving at the port.
It is also recommended that Guests bring a copy of their proof of vaccination or negative COVID- test result with them to the port. Guests who fail to upload proof of vaccination and/or COVID-19 test results may be delayed or denied boarding. If you have any questions about your Safe Passage registration or status, please contact Inspire Diagnostics at 877-250-5132.
Guests who are not fully vaccinated and traveling on back-to-back sailings will be required to complete a COVID-19 test between sailings, paid for by Disney Cruise Line.
Guests Recently Recovered from COVID-19
In some cases, people who have recently recovered from COVID-19 may still test positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. If Guests have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 within 11 to 90 days of their sail date, they may qualify to be considered as “90-Day-Recovered,” with the appropriate documentation and subsequent approval. Not-fully vaccinated Guests who are considered “90-Day-Recovered” are not required to participate in COVID-19 testing during the pre-embarkation phase of their voyage. For details on what documentation is required, please visit Disney Cruise Line’s Know Before You Go page.
You must complete Online Check-in beginning 30 days prior to your sailing. You will need to submit the required documents as well as select a Port Arrival Time. All Guests, including Platinum Castaway Club Guests, will need to select a Port Arrival Time. Please be aware that Guests will not be permitted at the terminal or in parking areas before their scheduled arrival time.
Guests who arrive early will be asked to return at their scheduled arrival time, and Guests arriving after their scheduled time may be delayed and asked to wait behind those arriving at their scheduled time. Online Check-in can be completed or modified up to one day prior to sailing. After completing Online Check-in, you will receive a Port Arrival Form by email. Bring this with you to the port to expedite your arrival.
Guests booked on the Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy or Disney Wish September 23, 2022, through December 31, 2022 may modify or cancel their sailing by September 12, 2022 without any Disney-imposed cancellation fees. Please contact your travel agent for details on how to cancel or modify your booking.
Please note that change fees and cancellation fees imposed by third-party suppliers, such as airlines and hotels, as well as travel insurance, are not refundable. Refunds will be processed back to the original form of payment. Standard cancellation policies and terms and conditions apply for any cancellation or modification requests received on or after September 13, 2022.
In other good news, traditional character greetings will return to all ships in the Disney Cruise Line fleet starting today (August 29, 2022). These meet and greets have been physically-distanced up until now–it has also been hit or miss as to whether character attendants would take photos or you’d need to take a selfie.
According to Disney Cruise Line, this is “in consideration of guidance from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and due to proven success in our theme parks surrounding returning to traditional character greetings, up-close character greetings, including autographs, are now in the process of resuming across our entire Disney Cruise Line fleet!”
In terms of commentary, I am very happy to see these changes finally being made–especially the end of testing. It’s been a while since we have covered health safety protocol aboard DCL (or anywhere, thankfully), but you might recall that I groused about all of this last year and said I was in “wait and see” mode when it came to cruising. There were too many hoops to jump through, compromises to the on-board experience, and the potential risk of being denied boarding erroneously.
Since then, some of that has been dropped and I’ve cruised aboard the new Disney Wish. I didn’t discuss it in any of our posts about that, but I found the pre-departure testing to be nerve-racking. I essentially didn’t engage in any indoor activities for nearly two weeks beforehand and even then was worried about testing positive.
This may sound excessive–and maybe it was–but I really didn’t want to be denied boarding. I’m not exactly the type of person who is still fixated on COVID, either. By and large, it does not impact my day-to-day life much at all anymore. It’s endemic, so my view is that whatever measures I take today would realistically need to be maintained from here to eternity. To each their own, but I’m not going to rearrange my life for something that, statistically speaking, poses little risk to me at this point.
In other words, my pre-cruise worries and behavioral changes revolved not around COVID, but testing for COVID. I enjoy cruising, but not enough to go through that repeatedly. Given the degree of discounting for cruises even as every other segment of the travel industry has been red hot, I cannot be alone in that sentiment.
The logical next step is dropping the distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated guests. Not to open this can of worms, but it seems like Disney Cruise Line’s policy is stuck in Summer 2021 when making that distinction. A lot has changed since then.
Most critically, there have been a few huge waves of infections and the overwhelming majority of Americans now have some degree of protection against severe disease due to durable immune memory of B and T cells as a result of prior infection, vaccination, or both. With that said, it’s possible that DCL is maintaining this policy to reduce liability (or as a requirement of its insurer), rather than as a mitigation measure. At some point, it would seem that this is doing more harm–in terms of lost bookings–than good.
(Selfishly, I should want this policy to remain in place as someone who is fully vaccinated and boosted–the longer the distinction is maintained, the greater the likelihood for discounted sailings and ships that aren’t full to capacity. That’s one way of looking at it, but saving money on a cruise is not my paramount concern in life. More importantly, I want to move on with life and eliminate one element of our unnecessarily polarized society.)
Ultimately, it’s good to see Disney Cruise Line taking another step to get back to normal. This is a big one for me, as it’s the last thing that was preventing me from taking advantage of those deeply-discounted rates. (The me v. we distinction is significant here–Sarah has been unfazed by these policies, doing multiple cruises with girlfriends since the ships resumed sailing.)
Have you sailed aboard Disney Cruise Line since they resumed operations? Did you find the testing policies nerve-racking, or were you unfazed? Agree or disagree with my perspective? Any questions? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments! (Just please keep the comments civil, as this is not the place for politically-charged arguing, antagonism, personal attacks, or cheap shots. We will be heavy-handed in deleting comments that cross the line, even if it’s only a single sentence. You are not going to change anyone’s mind via the comments section on this blog, nor are you going to change DCL’s rules or public policy. If you wish to shout conspiracy theories into the internet abyss, that’s why Facebook was invented.)