'Heartbreaking': Waterloo family's cruise trip disrupted as ship doesn't recognize mixed vaccines
If you're planning to book an international cruise trip, make sure to check the fine print on vaccine policies.
That's the message from one Waterloo family, who says they can't bring everyone on board because one member has received a mixed series of vaccines, which is not recognized by the cruise line.
"I called my mom and I said, 'you can't go on the cruise with us this time because they don't accept mixed vaccines," said Waterloo resident Colette Clarke.
Colette Clarke and family on a previous cruise. (Supplied)
Clarke's mother isn't welcome on board the Norwegian Cruise that will embark from New York in October because she's had a mixed dose vaccine.
Her first shot was Pfizer and her second shot was Moderna.
"I said, 'what do you mean I can't go?' I go wherever you go," said Geraldine O'Donovan, who can't go on the trip. "It's unreal, unreal, very heartbreaking."
"We have worked closely with our team of scientific and public health expert advisors to develop our robust, science-backed SailSAFE health and safety program, which requires 100 per cent vaccinations of all guests and crew. Mixed vaccination protocol is not currently accepted on U.S. sailings," Norwegian Cruise Lines said in a statement.
"I hope that Norwegian can see us as Canadians, we ran out of Pfizer, we had no other choice but to take the next one which was available," Clarke said.
Colette Clarke and family on a previous cruise. (Supplied)
While Clarke is going ahead with the trip as a family of four, she says it won't be the same without her mom.
"It is very upsetting because she enjoys coming on our cruises, especially with the kids and stuff too right. It's all about making memories," she said.
TIPS FOR BOOKING TRIPS AMID COVID-19
Staff at a local travel agency say that their phones have been ringing off the hook with clients in a similar situation. They say many have booked cruise ship reservations and they're learning that some members on the booking can't go on the trip because they have a mixed-dose vaccination.
"Whatever you do, do not go online and start booking vacations right now. The rules are changing by the day, there is a lot of fine print that needs to be read. Get into a travel agency and look at what your options are," said Dennis Hillier with North Star Travel and Associates.
Hillier says if you do book, research vaccine policies for everywhere you plan to go and make sure the trip deposit is refundable.
He added some cruise lines are currently accepting mixed vaccine regimes, but not all.
Hillier also offered the following tips:
- Use a travel agent
- Don't assume you can travel to a country as rules and restrictions can change daily
- Get travel insurance
- Considering booking into 2022 or 2023
- Ensure your travel documents, like a passport, is up to date
- Educate yourself on the country you plan to travel to
- Prepare for additional time at the airport to check-in
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