Can Cruise Lines Require Crew and Passengers to Get COVID-19 Vaccines?

Cruise Critic
December 10, 2020

Susanne Hafer was quoted in the article, "Can Cruise Lines Require Crew and Passengers to Get COVID-19 Vaccines?," published by Cruise Critic.

With the first people in the world beginning to receive COVID-19 vaccines this month, many cruisers ready to get back onboard see an end in 2021 to the travel bans and lockdowns that have dominated 2020. But regardless of whether you intend to take the vaccine as soon as you can, travelers are wondering: Can the cruise lines make vaccination a requirement of cruising for passengers? And what about the crew?

Susanne comments that "It's much easier, from a legal perspective, for a cruise line to require that its crew receive a COVID-19 vaccine. For one thing, most cruise ships are foreign flagged, which allows them already to bypass aspects of U.S. employment law. Crew are drawn from around the world, and the bulk are not U.S. citizens. But even if the crew were all American, the cruise lines are still likely able to require vaccines."

She explains "That's because a cruise ship environment is a difficult one to make accommodations for people who ask for them under ADA law, she said. If an employee asks for a medical exemption under ADA in an office setting, for example, the employer can reasonably accommodate that by allowing them to telework. But the close quarters of a cruise ship would make it difficult for even back-of-the-house workers to remain distant from their co-workers. It would be difficult for a cruise line to make an exception, even for medical reasons, without creating a danger to the other employees."

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