An emergency order that was issued by the Bahamas on Thursday and that goes into effect on Sept. 3 stated that, for the most part, passengers at least 12 years old aboard cruise ships docking in the country must be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. The order is valid through Nov. 1.
The exceptions include passengers who are ineligible to be vaccinated for medically related reasons, crew members, contractors and “non-revenue” passengers. In addition, a cruise ship that is experiencing an emergency situation and needs to dock in the Bahamas will be allowed to do so irrespectively of the vaccination status of those aboard.
Cruise ships that do not meet these requirements or exclusions may not enter any Bahamian ports, including ones located on private islands, such as Ocean Cay, Castaway Cay and Half Moon Cay.
In order to show that this rule is being adhered to, the captain of a cruise ship entering a Bahamian port must submit a crew and passenger manifest that lists the vaccination status of each person on the ship to the port medical officer.
Overall, cruise ships have been shown to be safe environments. For example, according to Michael Bayley, the president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, just one or two Royal Caribbean passengers tend to test positive for the COVID-19 virus while aboard ships with 1,000+ passengers.
His company also announced that in response to this emergency order, passengers departing from Florida and heading to the Bahamas will need to adhere to its requirements so that those ships can enter the multi-island country. Royal Caribbean had already been enforcing a similar vaccination rule for cruises departing other American ports for any destination.
With that said, the vaccination rate within the Bahamas is notably lower than it is in the United States. The former country has at least partially vaccinated 16% of its residents with 12% of those fully vaccinated while the corresponding figures in the U.S. are 60% and 51%.
However, the Bahamas has a lower infection rate than the U.S., with an average of 26 daily cases per 100,000 people versus the corresponding figure of 43 in the U.S.