Disney cruise ships will require vacationers be vaccinated prior to sailing, in the wake of Pfizer’s full approval by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S.

On Tuesday August 24, Disney Company announced that all passengers 12 and older must be fully vaccinated before boarding any Disney Cruise ship beginning September 3, 2021. The new rule, according to the company’s statement, is in effect until November, and may become permanent.

The Disney company announced in July that it would be requiring vaccination for all in-person employees in their parks, shops, and offices. On top of that, the Bahamas issued an emergency order in early August with the same requirement – all cruise passengers older than 12 must show proof of vaccination. Currently, Disney Cruise ships are only traveling between Florida and the Bahamas, including Disney’s private island there, Castaway Cay.

Disney Cruise line won’t be alone in the new requirement. Royal Caribbean announced the same restriction last week, as well as MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line (for cruises departing the United States), and Carnival Cruises, which announced it on Sunday.

It’s a prudent decision. In the early days of the pandemic last year, cruise ships around the world became hot spots for COVID-19, helping it jump borders and travel from community to community. Carnival Cruise is still struggling through lawsuits resulting from multiple COVID-19 deaths in 2020, and that cruise line has also already seen a COVID-19 passenger death since reopening this July.

One stumbling block in the way of enacting this requirement is the fact that most cruise ships in the U.S. leave from Florida, where vaccine and mask mandates are banned. But that ban, which is an executive order made by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, is currently blocked by judicial order and under appeal. For the time being, cruise lines may enforce whatever vaccine and mask policies they choose.

Photo: A 2013 image of people aboard a Disney Cruise ship. Credit: Maria Maarbes / Shutterstock.com