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Vaccine passports on cruises? Sure, add it to the list of rules.
Cruise ships are not a place for absolute freedom. Just ask the wine in your shampoo bottle.
Sit back, relax and follow the rules.
Sit back, relax and follow the rules. [ HANS DERYK | AP ]
Published Apr. 13
Updated Apr. 13

Vaccine passports are the latest culture war, destined to be wedged into a remake of We Didn’t Start the Fire. My money is on Bieber.

The pandemic has opened a wellspring of existential quandaries, but the passport issue is a pretty weird conga line for Florida’s cruise industry. To recap:

U.S. cruises ran aground due to COVID-19. Companies are working with the Centers for Disease Control to get going by summer. Gov. Ron DeSantis has sued the federal government to allow them to start immediately.

So, how can cruises operate safely? The CDC hasn’t yet required vaccines for cruising, but Norwegian Cruise Line and SilverSea Cruises said they will. Others are still deciding. But in Florida, DeSantis has issued an executive order banning vaccine passports. At press time, everyone was lost in a hedge maze, rubbing sage.

I see a good argument for vaccine passports on cruises, and here’s why. A ship is not a place to find liberty. There are the obvious legal requirements, like, you know, possibly an actual passport.

And cruises are floating containers of RULES. Have you ever been shoulder to shoulder, waiting for a 90-minute Bahamas shore excursion, while someone tries to sell you Trollbeads bracelets? That is not freedom.

Here are a few items prohibited by Royal Caribbean: Firearms; ammo; CBD products; candles; incense; coffee makers; irons; steamers; hot plates; hoverboards; martial arts gear; handcuffs; pepper spray; nightsticks; lighter fluid; fireworks; extension cords; bleach; paint; HAM radios; baby monitors; and hookahs.

To carry ashes on a Carnival cruise, you need a death certificate and proof the cremation was licensed and not done by a cousin out back. Ashes must be kept in a leakproof, sealed container of wood, plastic, cardboard or non lead-based ceramics. Easy-peasy.

What about the pool deck, that American bastion of freedom? Guess again! If Carnival staff sees an unoccupied seat with, say, a Harlequin romance novel on it, they note it. If 40 minutes passes and you have not returned because you are doing a beer bong, they move your stuff. Is this communist? I am checking.

Speaking of beer, a word about alcohol. You know about the alcohol thing. Don’t act innocent. Some cruise lines let you bring a couple bottles. Others don’t. All will extend a 64-page menu of expensive drinking options on board.

I once took a cruise that didn’t allow outside booze. We considered putting wine into shampoo bottles, then remembered we weren’t 16. Instead, we bought an approved, economy-sized bottle of Skyy vodka from a folding table on the boat ramp. We don’t even really drink vodka, but we carried it around like a baby, pouring splashes of Skyy into the unlimited Coke from the fountain.

Is that liberty? I don’t know! I am honestly confused!

The “nice” restaurants often cost extra, dooming some to stand outside clutching their firstborn bottle of Skyy. Then there’s big devil energy from the dress code, formal versus casual, tuxedos versus bikinis, the definition of “khaki,” and so on.

When it’s time to line dance, do people go voluntarily? No! They are PUSHED into the ELECTRIC SLIDE by a HYPER AUNT wearing a MATCHING FAMILY T-SHIRT.

Lastly, if you get sick on a ship, it’s up to the crew to kick you off or put you in quarantine. For a reminder of what’s at stake, watch The Last Cruise on HBO. It’s a documentary about the Diamond Princess, plagued by 712 infections and 14 deaths at the start of the pandemic. It was especially tragic for the ship’s staff, literally living underwater without the benefits enjoyed above deck.

Cruises are an inherently risky businesses, and I will do anything anyone tells me on a ship. That’s because I’m not qualified to keep me alive. It’s in everyone’s best interest if we don’t bring on fireworks, or COVID-19.

Now, excuse me. I have to go measure my scissors. If they’re less than 4 inches long, I can pack them.

Related: Read more columns from Stephanie Hayes

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