The government has eased its vaccination requirements after a family had to scrap their holiday because a quota meant their 18-month-old baby needed to be vaccinated.
The Timoteo family were booked on a cruise on Carnival Splendor with two parents and two children fully vaccinated, but a third 18-month-old child was unvaccinated.
Only days before they were due to set sail, they were told their booking was cancelled because they had an unvaccinated person in their group – namely baby Lucy.
The NSW Government rules state at least 95 per cent of all passengers have to be vaccinated, and the Timoteo’s 18-month-old appears to have tipped the ship over the edge.
Since Nine’s A Current Affair broke its story, the cruise community has been up in arms.
Now Carnival has eased vaccination requirements to help passengers.
Until now, the government’s policy forced cruise lines to include children in its 5% vaccination threshold – even when legally they couldn’t be vaccinated.
What makes the rules particularly ludicrous is that 18-month-olds are too young to be vaccinated.
Karina Timoteo said: “I don’t choose for my daughter not to be vaccinated – she cannot be vaccinated in NSW.”
Another family also had a Carnival cruise cancelled due to having unvaccinated children. “Christine” told A Current Affair: “We had two children under 12, which aren’t mandated to be vaccinated. All of the adults were vaccinated.”
Carnival CEO Marguerite Fitzgerald previously clarified the Carnival Vaccination Requirements with A Current Affair: “95% per cent of guests must be vaccinated. We’re seeing that it’s working, the protocols are working, and we are not having outbreaks on the ships.”
Ms Fitzgerald later clarified that saying during certain periods such as school holidays, they would quickly reach their five per cent cap, which means children under 12 could become ineligible to sail.
Carnival has now changed the vaccination requirements, removing the 5% threshold rule that was preventing some families from sailing.
Carnival Cruises wrote in a press release: “A problem with existing arrangements emerged following high family demand during the recent spring holiday period with cruise lines unable to accept some family bookings or having to cancel some cruise holidays.
“These families were left disappointed because under the rules unvaccinated children aged under 12 were limited to a five per cent threshold that also accounted for unvaccinated adult guests with medical exemptions.”
Ryan Taibel, Carnival Australia Vice President of Sales said: “The last thing we want to do is disappoint our guests, so we are pleased that the governments are showing empathy for families in the vaccination arrangements that apply to children.
“The governments reacted quickly to the problem but unfortunately the rule change couldn’t be in place for the recent school holiday period when there was such high demand from families wanting to cruise.
“However, it is good to know that the easing of vaccination requirements for children means that families will be able to book their summer cruise holidays with confidence. Our onboard teams can’t wait to welcome our young guests on our ships.”
This rule change will remove the 5% threshold, allowing families to book their cruises with more confidence. The rule is currently limited to NSW and Queensland but is expected to become the model for the nationally-used Eastern Seaboard Cruise Protocols.