Following news that Disney Cruise Line would require all eligible 5 to 11 year old passengers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Norwegian Cruise Line has followed suit.
Norwegian Cruise Line said in response to a Bloomberg query that its vaccine mandate would be extended to include passengers between the ages of 5 and 11 years old.
The news comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announced that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had been approved for children 5 years old and up.
The emergency use authorization prompted Disney Cruise Line to announce that its vaccine mandate would apply to this age group was well.
Norwegian Cruise Line has now followed suit, telling Bloomberg that “Given the recent health updates regarding the expansion of the age criteria to receive the vaccination, we look forward to welcoming these younger guests back onboard soon.”
Norwegian Cruise Line does not currently allow unvaccinated guests to board, while Disney Cruise Line will allow unvaccinated children who cannot get the vaccine for eligibility reasons, provided they show a negative PCR test result less than 3 days old.
Though many cruise lines have implemented vaccine mandates for passengers older than 18, Disney and Norwegian are the only ones to apply the measure to passengers younger than 12.
Deciding on vaccine mandates for children is a risky move for cruise lines, especially in the North American market where the safety, viability, and necessity of vaccination against COVID-19 has become highly politicised.
Recent polling shows many parents are hesitant or resistant to vaccinating their child. At least 30% of US parents have indicated they will not vaccinate their child younger than 12 in several polls conducted in October.
Carnival Corporation, which owns nine cruise line brands and accounts for around half of the global cruise market, has indicated that a decision to expand the vaccine mandates to include 5- to 11-year-olds would be left up to executives at each of its individual cruise lines.
Richard Fain, the CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, the second-largest cruise company in the world, which owns Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, is a vocal supporter of vaccine mandates.
He has frequently said that he expects more cruise lines to require vaccination for all customers as they become eligible. No plans, however, have been put into place to expand the company’s current policies, which currently cover those age 12 and up.