OpEd: Disney Cruise Line Needs to Drop Its Mask and Vaccine Policies

Disney Cruise Line

I honestly have no clue when I will set foot back on a Disney Cruise Line ship again. From forcing any and all “eligible” Guests to be whatever they decide to recognize today as “fully vaccinated” to now maintaining extra mask mandates on little kids, one look at its pandemic-inspired policy pages, and I might as well go sail with Captain Hook aboard the Jolly Roger instead. At least there, my niece and nephews won’t be thrown into the brig for not wearing a mask. The enduring policies are ridiculous and I’d rather wait until they’re gone and get my dose of Disney Magic elsewhere.

Disney Cruise Line

Credit: Disney

As many who are reading this article right now know, Disney Cruise Line requires that if Guests are cleared to get a COVID-19 vaccine, they have to get it and show proof before they are allowed to board the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy. That means all Guests as young as five years old.

But that’s still not enough. As we now know, even “fully vaccinated” folks can still catch the coronavirus. So we have to show a negative test when we check-in. Oh, and the antigen tests that let us know if we have strong COVID-fighting antibodies in our system don’t count.

Here is the official wording on the Disney Cruise Line website:

Currently, Disney Cruise Line continues to require all vaccine-eligible Guests (based on US eligibility requirements) to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as defined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at the time of sailing. This is a requirement for all Guests (US and international) ages 5 and older. Guests who are not vaccine-eligible because of age must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result (paid for by the Guest) taken between 3 days and 24 hours before their sail date. Guests ages 4 and under must complete the testing requirements. The test should be a NAAT test, rapid PCR test or lab-based PCR test. Rapid antigen tests are not accepted.

Disney Cruise Line Guidelines

Credit: Disney

Then, once all Guests as young as two years old board their ship, they have to wear masks at all times while indoors. Let me repeat that. A fully-vaccinated passenger manifest who all test negative for COVID are still forced to wear masks in all indoor areas except for your stateroom, of course, and when you are at a table actively eating and drinking.

Here is the official wording:

For sailings that embark through March 10, all Guests (ages 2 and up, including those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19) are required to wear face coverings indoors. Exceptions include when Guests are in their staterooms or actively eating or drinking (while stationary and maintaining an appropriate physical distance). Face coverings are not required for Guests outdoors while on board the ship and at designated locations.

It reads like Walt Disney World’s face mask policy when it first reopened almost two years ago!

Disney Cruise Line CDC

Credit: Disney

On Thursday, March 3, Disney Cruise Line announced that they would actually begin scaling back their face mask mandates for indoor areas. Except for the little kids five and under who aren’t even able to get the vaccine. They, the tolerably unvaccinated, still have to wear face masks.

Check it out:

For sailings originating from a U.S. port of departure beginning March 11, 2022, face coverings will be optional in most indoor locations throughout our ships. Guests ages 2 and up, including those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, will still be required to wear face coverings in the Walt Disney Theatre. Guests under 5 years of age who are currently ineligible to be vaccinated will be required to wear face coverings in Youth Activity spaces and in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique; and, while not required, we continue to strongly recommend these guests wear a face covering in all other indoor locations. Face coverings may be required in ports of call based on local government requirements.

On, and do you want to know the best part about this? Disney Cruise Line has at least one sailing that departs the DAY BEFORE these “lessened” policies go into effect. A 24-hour difference in departure means a 2-year difference in onboard COVID policy.

Meanwhile, The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, and the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, have dropped their mask mandates for all outdoor and indoor areas save for enclosed mass transportation like a bus or a monorail. Both websites claim that the privilege is only for the “fully vaccinated” but there is no vaccination status check at any of the six accounted-for Theme Parks. And Guess What? We’re all still here, and we’re all okay!

Disney World

Credit: Disney

Related: St. Petersburg, Russia Removed from Disney Cruise Line Itineraries This Summer

It has been two years. According to the CDC, there have been nearly 80 million reported cases–likely twice as many unreported–and almost 82% of the entire US population has received at least one vaccine dose. So add those antibodies to the fact that the survivability rate has always been over 95%.

Don’t get me wrong, any and all Guests–especially those with comorbidities–should take individual steps to make themselves feel safe, whether that is wearing a mask or getting the latest booster shot.

But until I can board a cruise ship without facing vaccination requirements and stepping into an environment where my little family members are forced to wear a mask, I think I’ll pass on that drive to Port Canaveral, the Star Wars Day, or Marvel Day at Sea and the day spent at Castaway Cay. I’ll be good getting the nautical vibe by spending my money at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort in the Free State of Florida. Or, wait and save so that when these ridiculous policies get dropped, I’ll be able to book an extra-magical suite aboard the Disney Wish.

Disney Wish

Credit: Disney

Related: Enter to Win a Disney Cruise Line Vacation with This Month’s “Year of Wishes” Sweepstakes

Until that day comes, I will continue to wish upon a star every night for the chance to step back aboard a Disney cruise ship for a normal magical experience where unmasked smiles fill every room and where acts of playing, hugging characters, and making friends are no longer looked upon as an evil witch preparing to cast a horrible curse.

About T.K. Bosacki

Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, TK Bosacki is a professional writer, amateur adventurer, and lifelong Disney Fanatic. His Disney Park days include Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Nomad Lounge. He believes in starting at the Canada pavilion (IYKYK), and the Monorail is superior to all Ferry Boats.

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