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Sailing with Disney Cruise Line During the Pandemic: COVID Testing Protocols

I like to say that any time is a great time to sail on Disney Cruise Line, but as we talked about previously, right now is truly an amazing time to sail if you feel comfortable doing so, and everyone eligible to be vaccinated is vaccinated.

But what exactly does that mean and what does it look like?

First, at the time of publication of this blog, Disney Cruise Line requires everyone ages 12 and up to be fully vaccinated. That means two shots of Moderna or Pfizer (or one shot of Johnson & Johnson) AND the second shot (or only shot in the case of J&J) must be a minimum of two weeks prior to the start of your cruise. At some point, this age requirement may be lowered now that the CDC has approved the shot for children ages 5-11.

Second, you’ll need to upload this information to the Safe Passages website between 15 days and 3 days prior to the cruise. That’ll mean saving a jpg of your vaccine card and uploading it. Safe Passages is an independent company that then verifies your vaccines and approves you to go to the port.

That’s easy, right? If everyone in your party is vaccinated, that’s all you need to do before arriving at the port!

So, what if you have members of your party not vaccinated? Remember, everyone ages 12 and up must be vaccinated. There are no exceptions to this policy and no waiver options. For children under age 12, because they are not required to be vaccinated, they must take–and then provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result–taken between 3 days and 24 hours before your sail date. The test should be a NAAT test, rapid PCR test or lab-based PCR test. Rapid antigen tests are not accepted. Disney Cruise Line has even partnered with Inspire Diagnostics for a PCR test option (for $98.33 per PCR test). These are self-administered tests mailed in.

Once you have the results of the PCR test(s) for those ages 11 and under, those must be uploaded to the Safe Passage website and be approved before you can arrive at the port.

Whew…we’re almost there! One last step…

When you arrive at the port, everyone in your party regardless of age or vaccination status must do a rapid test before you’re allowed to board. One last hurdle–you’re almost there.

This is so easy! When you arrive at the port, have your Port Arrival form out and ready to be scanned. Simply follow the signs.

Once your form is scanned, you’ll enter a tent and be directed to a station where a nurse or nurse tech will instruct you on how to prepare your testing vial and how to properly swab your nose!

This is a self-administered swab (or parent administered for young children!), but you will be observed to make sure the testing is done properly. Seal up your sample, and then you’ll be directed to another tent.

In this tent, you simply wait to be cleared! There is a TV in each tent that will put up reservation numbers as the stateroom is cleared for sailing. You can also see the information by logging into your Safe Passages account on your phone. Ours took 36 minutes. 45 minutes is the average wait time.

Once you’re cleared to board, you follow the signs into the terminal and prepare to board the ship!

Disney Cruise Line Terminal – Port Canaveral Cruise Terminal 8 Port Canaveral Cape Canaveral, Florida

Wait, what happens if someone tests positive? The employee working the entrance to the tent will assist you, but your party will not be allowed to board. You will have the option of renting a car and returning home or quarantining at a select hotel in the Orlando area. You will receive a refund of your cruise in your original form of payment (meaning revert to a Future Cruise Credit or refunded to your credit card, gift cards, etc.). You will not be allowed to fly as the results will be reported to TSA, and you will not be allowed to go through security at the airport. Disney Cruise Line will retrieve your luggage and assist you with leaving the port area.

One final note, if your cruise is longer than five nights, children under age 12 will be tested again before you disembark the ship. You’ll be scheduled for a time, and that information will appear in the app. Nurses will come to your stateroom and hand you the supplies and watch as the child(ren) complete their tests. You then let the test sit undisturbed, and they will return in 15 minutes to read the results. Negative results mean you may go about your cruise as normal, but a positive test will result in your party being moved to a quarantine section on the ship (decks 1 and 2 depending on ship) for the duration of the cruise.

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