Carnival Vista

The Carnival Vista — the largest cruise vessel in Carnival Cruise Line’s fleet at 133,500 tons and 1,055 feet long with a guest capacity of almost 4,000 — is set to sail from Galveston on July 3 with ports of call in Honduras, Belize and Mexico.


Despite implications by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that a new state law would prevent it, Carnival Cruise Line still plans to require passengers to prove they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 before sailing from the Port of Galveston in July.

In guidance about the cruises issued Tuesday, the company notified guests they’d have to be fully vaccinated against COVID at least 14 days before their departure and provide proof of vaccinations.

Carnival also said most children younger than 12 won’t be allowed on the ships because COVID vaccines haven’t been approved for them. The company on Wednesday said there would be limited exceptions and that a few unvaccinated people could be allowed on Galveston ships.

Carnival’s decision runs counter to Abbott’s statements Monday when he signed a new law preventing Texas businesses from asking customers for so-called vaccine passports. Abbott specifically mentioned Carnival’s vaccination policy as something the new law would stop.

But whether that’s true is unclear.

In a statement Monday, Carnival said it believed the company might fall into a loophole in the new law allowing businesses to require vaccine passports if a company is following federal health requirements.

Carnival and other cruise lines are subject to health rules laid out by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and have been working with that agency in an attempt to return to business for the first time since March 2020.

It’s also unclear whether penalties laid out in the new law would be of any consequence to Carnival. The law states companies that require vaccine passports are prohibited from receiving state grants or contracts and might be barred from receiving licenses or permits from state agencies.

The Port of Galveston has been in touch with the governor’s office about Carnival’s stance since Monday, Port Director Rodger Rees said. Rees believed the governor’s office understood and accepted Carnival’s position on vaccination, he said.

“They verified what our understanding is,” Rees said Wednesday.

Abbott’s office didn’t respond Tuesday or Wednesday to questions about Carnival’s continued plans for Galveston cruises or whether the company would face any consequences if it continues to move forward with its sailings.

The new details from Carnival also provided more insight into what being on the first returned cruises will be like for passengers.

People boarding ships in Galveston will be asked to confirm their vaccination status when they arrive at the ship and be asked to provide proof of being vaccinated. People who don’t show proof when they’re at the cruise terminal will be stopped from boarding, and they won’t be given a refund for their missed trip, Carnival said.

Vaccinated guests on the cruises won’t be required to wear masks or practice social distancing while on board, the company said. To meet the standard set by the CDC, at least 95 percent of passengers will be vaccinated, the company said.

Passengers might have to follow different rules when they disembark in other countries. The Carnival Vista, which is set to sail from Galveston on July 3, is scheduled to go to Honduras, Belize and Mexico.

Carnival is giving passengers scheduled to go on a July cruise until June 14 to decide whether they want to cancel or reschedule their trips.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


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(22) comments

Wayne D Holt

"The company on Wednesday said there would be limited exceptions and that a few unvaccinated people could be allowed on Galveston ships."

And they will separate the sheep from the goats exactly how? What are the conditions that will allow SOME on board without being experimented on while most will be subjected to it? How will Carnival justify the differing treatment?

Dear Carnival Cruise Line: Bring lawyers, guns and money because you will likely need it. You are a PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION. You are discriminating against US persons based both on age (less than 12) with no compelling interest as well as by impermissible imposition of medical requirements in order to participate in your publicly offered services, requirements that have not been authorized by either the federal or state government. In fact, you are in open defiance of the state at this point, despite what you think the governor's offices understands. And the cherry on top is that you are going to keep the money of passengers you have unlawfully refused public accommodation to. Brilliant!

Somewhere, a lawyer is licking his chops and thinking, "Do it, oh please, do it!" Carnival has so many holes in its legal defense of this idiotic practice a plaintiff isn't going to need a Rocket Rosen or Gerry Spence to prevail.

Craig Mason

I hope Carnival stands their ground. They are a private company and are allowed to run it the way they see fit. A ship is a petri dish at sea and they feel with vaccinations they can operate safely. I applaud their resolve.

Carlos Ponce

So Craig is telling us businesses don't have to obey the law?

Texas SB 968:

"A business in this state may not require a customer to provide any documentation certifying the customer’s COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery on entry to, to gain access to, or to receive service from the business. A business that fails to comply with this subsection is not eligible to receive a grant or enter into a contract payable with state funds."

A liner must obtain permission to dock in a Texas port. Refusal to comply with Texas law is reason for denying docking privileges.

Craig Mason

Like you yourself before Carlos, if someone doesn’t want to comply with a businesses rules, the customer can take his or her money elsewhere. People and businesses have the right to choose. Why are you so against free enterprise Carlos? If you don’t want a vaccine then don’t plan on taking a cruise.

Carlos Ponce

I'm not against Free Enterprise, Craig Mason.

Wayne D Holt

"They are a private company and are allowed to run it the way they see fit."

Craig, you must be unfamiliar with the various civil rights acts made the law of the land over the past 55 years. It was in all the papers.

Some people would have you believe you can use the law to force a bakery to make a same-sex wedding cake, against the bakers' religious beliefs...but you definitely can't force a public recreational service to stop using its own health criteria in determining accommodation, while discriminating both on age and medical history bases.

Some people also believe the moon is made of green cheese.

Jim Forsythe

Cruise ships fall under Maritime Law, not state law.

If Texas denies docking privileges,thiey will go elsewhere, and may not return.

Remember, this is a test run, as the industry is not open.

Carlos Ponce

"Cruise ships fall under Maritime Law, not state law." Not in port.

Remember the gambling ships which had to obey Texas' prohibition of gambling until they reached open waters? While in port, TEXAS law was observed. "Since gambling is illegal in Texas, the games can't commence until boats reach federal waters, typically 9 or 10 miles from shore."

Wayne D Holt


Jim Forsythe

Cruise ships will not reman in port , so Texas laws will not apply.

CDC is in charge of the passengers.

May. 5, 2021 (AP) - Cruise lines can soon begin trial voyages in U.S. waters with volunteer passengers helping test whether the ships can sail safely during a pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave ship operators final technical guidelines Wednesday for the trial runs. The CDC action is a step toward resuming cruises in U.S. waters, possibly by July, for the first time since March 2020.

A spokeswoman for the cruise industry’s trade group said the group was reviewing the CDC instructions.Each practice cruise — they’ll run two to seven days — must have enough passengers to meet at least 10% of the ship’s capacity. Volunteers must be 18 or older and either fully vaccinated, free of medical conditions that would not put them at high risk for severe COVID-19.

Carlos Ponce

The State of Florida and the State of Texas have lawyers at the ready to enforce each state's laws. Your post says NOTHING about Texas laws not applying. Carnivals going lose BIG TIME if this goes to court.

Jim Forsythe

Cruise ships will not reman in port , so Texas laws will not apply.

Carlos Ponce

Under Texas law they cannot deny boarding because of a lack of vaccine proof. What are they going to do when they reach open water? Throw them overboard?

Craig Mason

The law will be struck down in court. It is toothless.

Carlos Ponce

A fine will be levied. That is not toothless.

Jim Forsythe

Once they leave Texas soil, they are no longer covered by Texas law.

The gang plank is the bridge that will prevent someone from boarding, if they have not followed the law that the ship is going by. If for some reason they are required to let them board, the capton could require the passangers to return to shore by boat or helcoipter once they are offshore. They also could be required to be quarantine untill they leave.

This also could require the person to pay the cost of the boat or helcoipter.

Carlos Ponce

Nonsense, Jim. From now until September 1, they can require vaccinations. Once September 1 arrives......

Jim Forsythe

This Cruise ships leaves July 3ed. After the July 3ed cruise,they will decide what happens next, as this is a test cruse.

Jim Forsythe

MIAMI — Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has announced plans to set sail from two Florida ports while requiring guests be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus despite state legislation banning businesses from asking proof.

The company says it is in talks with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ staff and attorneys “to ensure that we can offer the safest cruise experience for our passengers.”

On Monday, Norwegian announced sailings from New York, Los Angeles, Port Canaveral and Miami.

Carnival Cruise Line, also based in Miami, announced sailings from the Port of Galveston, Texas, with vaccinated guests and is working with Florida officials for a ship to leave from Port Miami.

Royal Caribbean International said Friday that eight of its ships will resume U.S. voyages in July and August with trips leaving Florida, Texas and Washington state ports.

Carlos Ponce

The lawyers and the law are waiting for those lawbreakers.

Wayne D Holt

Jim, do you think maritime law would allow a US registered ship to ignore civil rights laws once they left port? How about discrimination based on age or gender?

If not, why do you think the CDC can bypass laws that every business in Texas has to abide by? The CDC is a government charted, non-elected bureaucracy. I doubt if Texas judges--state or federal--would be anxious to put the CDC in charge of deciding what Texas laws were enforceable. If they could, you would have had vaccine passports lined up and waiting.

Jim Forsythe

As the Carnival Vista Registry is in Panama, your need to follow USA law, may not be true.

They are working with the CDC, with this test run to see what needs to stay in place and what can be done away with.

This is the same as the postoffice lobby reqiring mask, because this is what fed. says need to happen.

Also remember that international waters start at the coastline, which include territorial waters.

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