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Disney Cruise Line announces U.K. cruises vaccination requirement

by Susan and Simon Veness

Just eight days after sending their British fans into a frenzy of excitement, Disney Cruise Line (DCL) has put the brakes – or, more correctly, the anchor – on many people’s hopes for a “staycation” cruise this summer.

Disney Cruise Line Magic
Photo by Matt Stroshane/Disney

When DCL first announced their unique series of short cruises-to-nowhere for United Kingdom residents a month ago, they were greeted with enormous enthusiasm across the Atlantic, especially since the line had been forced into a sea-going pandemic lockdown for more than a year, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was showing no signs of easing its blanket ban on cruising from American ports.

The possibility for a two, three, or four-day voyage on the Disney Magic was seen as manna from Disney heaven, even though the ship would not visit any ports of call on each trip, hence the “staycation” element for residents of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Unlike other cruise lines that also unveiled British summer cruises at the same time, DCL did not indicate whether passengers would be required to have a COVID-19 vaccination, and the strong speculation was that this would not be a condition for cruising with Mickey and Co.

Even when the company announced last week that bookings would finally be open on April 30 (April 28-29 for Castaway Cay and DVC members), there was no mention of a vaccination stipulation for would-be staycation cruisers.

However, the latest announcement from Disney is that a full virus vaccination will be required for all adult passengers of 18 years and older, while those under 18 will need to have a negative COVID-19 test at their own expense prior to boarding.

The news came as a shock to many prospective “staycation” passengers, and the Disney social media airwaves were abuzz with concerned and angry would-be cruisers, many of whom insisted the vaccination stipulation was both difficult to conform to in Britain, where vaccinations are still not open to all, and totally unwelcome.

While there are U.K. government restrictions on travel and cruising, a COVID-19 vaccination is not currently an official stipulation, but all cruise lines have now made it a prerequisite for embarkation, and DCL has merely fallen into step with the other companies.

The latest British health guidelines insist that cruising may resume from U.K. ports on May 17, but only at 50 percent capacity, while there is also a roadmap to 100 percent capacity on June 21, subject to further government review. DCL cruises run from July 15 through Oct. 1, hence they should be able to run at full capacity, but Disney has already said they will only sail at a reduced amount.

The need for face-masks, regular health screenings, and social distancing on board had already been announced, but the full requirements, with the latest vaccination and pre-cruise testing conditions, are as follows:

  • COVID-19 Vaccination: In order to sail, Guests 18 years of age and older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as defined by the National Health Service (NHS). The NHS currently defines “fully vaccinated” as seven days after the final dose. Disney Cruise Line will contact guests prior to sailing with instructions on how to show proof of this vaccination status.
  • Pre-Trip COVID-19 Testing: Guests under 18 years of age are not required to be vaccinated, but must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result (paid for by the guest) taken between 5 days and 24 hours prior to the date you set sail. Disney Cruise Line has secured a special discounted rate through a third-party vendor for PCR tests and will contact guests prior to sailing with instructions on how to complete and submit their test results. Guests may obtain their PCR test from the third-party vendor or any qualified testing supplier.
  • Embarkation COVID-19 Testing: All guests, including those who have been vaccinated, are required to undergo an antigen COVID-19 rapid test administered by a third party in the terminal prior to boarding. Anyone testing positive will undergo a second test to verify the results. All tests administered at the terminal will be at the expense of Disney Cruise Line. Guests with positive COVID-19 test results, as well as those in their travel party, will be denied boarding.
  • Temperature Checks and Questionnaires: Daily temperature checks and health questionnaires are required for all guests and crew members.
  • Face Coverings: Face coverings are required for all guests (ages 11 and up) and crew members, including those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Please bring your own face coverings and wear them at all times, except when dining, swimming or in your stateroom. You may temporarily remove your face covering while actively eating, drinking, or taking an outdoor photo, but you must be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing during this time. It is recommended that children ages 3 to 10 wear a face covering at all times except in designated locations.

For the latest information, look up DCL’s U.K. summer cruise section on this link: https://disneycruise.disney.go.com/why-cruise-disney/experience-updates/

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