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Disney Cruise Line’s First Sailing Denied Boarding to Many Due to Covid Regulations

Disney Cruise Line's First Sailing Denied Boarding to Many Due to Covid Regulations
Credit: Disney

If there is one thing you need to know before going on a Disney Cruise anytime soon is to make sure that you are reading every single email and any information that is posted on the Disney Cruise Line website. On yesterday’s first sailing after 513 days, many families were denied boarding due to screening issues with PCR tests. Do you think Disney’s requirements are clear?

Disney Dream Sets Sail Again

Breaking News: Disney Cruise Line Voyages Return to the U.S.!
Credit: Disney

Yesterday the Disney Dream ship was the first to sail from the United States since March of 2020.

In July 2021, it was announced that three- and four-night cruises to Disney’s private island in the Bahamas would begin on August 9 sailing from Port Canaveral, Florida.

Disney Cruise Line, Bahamas Take Precautions to Prevent Coronavirus
Credit: Marisol

Information regarding protocols, before and during the cruise was posted on the Disney Cruise Line website as well as emails that were sent out.


COVID-19 Testing Learn about the COVID-19 tests that are required for Guests before leaving home and at the terminal. Pre-Trip COVID-19 Testing: All Guests (adults and children) must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test (paid for at the Guest’s expense) taken between 5 days and 24 hours prior to the sail date. Disney Cruise Line has secured a special rate of $98.33 per PCR test (which includes a 3.5% processing fee) through our third-party vendor, Inspire Diagnostics.

Guests may also obtain their PCR test from any independent testing supplier. Guests who are fully vaccinated may choose to provide proof of vaccination instead of undergoing COVID19 pre-trip testing. To learn more about how to provide proof of your negative COVID-19 PCR test result, please visit: Before Leaving Home: Know Before You Go. Embarkation COVID-19 Testing: All Guests (adults and children) are required to undergo a rapid PCR COVID-19 test administered by Inspire Diagnostics at the terminal prior to boarding.

Guests with positive COVID-19 test results, as well as those in their travel party, will be denied boarding. The $65 test fee will be charged to the folio of all Guests 12 years and older. Disney Cruise Line acts as the paying agent for Inspire Diagnostics and will remit the entire cost of the COVID-19 test to Inspire Diagnostics. Guests who are fully vaccinated may choose to provide proof of vaccination instead of undergoing COVID-19 Embarkation Day testing.

Denial of Boarding on the Disney Dream

Credit: Maggie

However, it seems as if there were more than 20 families that did not adhere to the part of providing proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test (paid for at the Guest’s expense) taken between 5 days and 24 hours prior to the sail date.

As an avid cruiser myself and having a love for Disney and its cruise line, I was kind of surprised while watching the live cam from Port Canaveral yesterday that the ship was still in port.

I was also following Twitter of guests aboard, and in the evening they noticed that 2 Disney Cruise Line buses had pulled into the port. Originally, there was talk that families were just arriving.

Credit: Monica

Within a couple of hours many cruisers began to post that they were hearing around the ship that more than 20 families had been denied boarding.

Today, one of those families that was denied passage posted on the Gold Castaway Club reddit forum of their experience.

Credit: Disney Cruise Line

You can read the post HERE.

The person that posted in the forum explains that although he and his wife are vaccinated, when completing online onboard check in they received the green clearance that they were ready to cruise alongside their two children ages 11 and 7.

This is where the situation arose. Both children are not eligible for the vaccine currently in the United States.

Credit: Disney

They were under the impression that the children would receive the rapid test at port (all those that are not vaccinated must do a rapid test at port). However, when they went to test the kids, they were asked for the PCR test taken between 5 days and 24 hours prior to the sail date.

That’s when the trouble and denying of being able to cruise occurred. Unfortunately, the family did not have both kids tested prior between the 5 days and 24 hours prior to the sail date.

One instance also occurred where one of the family members did a rapid test prior to the arrival of port during the required time frame, however, those tests are not accepted. Therefore, the entire family, who all had the PCR test completed, was denied boarding.

U.S. plans open international travel
Photo credit: Wall Street Journal

Personally, my heart ached when I read this post because I can not imagine being so ecstatic to be sailing again only to find out that I had misunderstood the protocols before arriving.

Many at the port that were denied boarding claimed that they had never received information from Disney and/or their travel agents and that it was not clear and therefore not their fault but Disney’s.

credit: disneycruiseline

When I read the protocols when they first came out I was aware and understood that although my husband, oldest daughter and I are vaccinated, our youngest who is younger than 12 will need to PCR and not rapid test at least 5 days and 24 hours prior to sailing.

What are your thoughts regarding the families that were denied boarding? Do you think it was a clear misunderstanding? Let us know in the comments on Facebook and in our Facebook group.


  1. My 9 year old daughter and I just got off the Dream cruise mentioned in this article. Yes, there was a lot of information to sort through and it was redundant. But – it was all there. The rules were clear from the first email. I had a few questions myself, I called and ask and received clarification. This was NOT Disney’s fault.

  2. After more than a year of dealing with Covid and testing, I think it’s quite clear the difference between rapid and PCR tests and why PCR tests are only suitable ones for travel. It’s also clear (on many sites from other countries and Disney) that vaccinated individuals are typically able to forego pre-travel testing. Children are categorized in same group – unvaccinated and vaccinated so of course they would need testing.

    It truly sucks to be denied passage, but denied passage for your own mistakes and so everyone who did follow the rules can safely enjoy their trip (including employees) is no ones fault but your own.

  3. I think if you’re vaccinated the testing is useless. If everyone on board is vaccinated the risk for becoming ill is rare. Also, have you heard of false positive tests? Rapid testing is only about 70% reliable, I worked in a lab for years. People would test positive one day and negative the next. It depends on the person performing the test and a lot of other factors for rapid tests. If you want reliable test every one should have a PCs test for accuracy.

  4. It was very clear from the numerous times Disney posted it in their communications. People need to take more responsibility and actually read instructions. If for some reason they can’t comprehend those easy to understand instructions then possibly they need to ask someone else to assist them with the information. People nowadays want to take no responsibility for anything and expect a magic wand to be waved and an exception made for them. I’m glad they were denied boarding.

  5. Taking a cruise with Disney on their Dream ship, is a dream come true. Glad Disney protected the hundreds of other passengers by requiring everyone’s health is well before sailing.
    It’s an amazing cruise experience, top notch.

  6. And it turns out now from that Reddit user’s update that those families who were denied boarding have been given a full refund *and* a free cruise! Wow. Disney was super nice to refund the cruise money, but giving a free cruise on top of that just seems a bit much… are they giving a free cruise to the people who followed instructions? SMH

  7. This is not by the numbers anywhere near as bad as the “first” one. Also the only during the first and second waves the case rates were correlated with the hospitalization and death rates. Since the vaccine this just isn’t the case. The death rates are not going up in the same fashion. In fact for the number of deaths in the states are about as many on a 7 day rolling average as that caused by Alzheimer’s.

  8. That is not true. It is not as effective as it was on the alpha but it is still fairly effective. Also what is the purpose of testing 5 days to 24 hours prior? You could get the virus anywhere after the point of the test or you could have a low viral load at the point of the test and it not come up positive but symptoms start after boarding. Either way the test would be useless and bam awful surprise.

  9. It was confusing to me. I read it a couple of times and still didn’t understand it the way they meant. Disney definitely could have worded it better.

  10. I feel so sorry for those families. We just sailed Greece with Celebrity and making sure we had everything necessary for the Cruise and return to the US was daunting. Careful and constant review of requirements is a must-do. I do agree with some posters – a rapid test should be required of all passengers at the point of embarkation. Celebrity requires all passengers to be vaccinated AND required a rapid test at port before sailing. I felt very safe.

  11. I was just notified a few says ago that Carnival is now requiring pre-cruise testing even for fully vaccinated passengers thr October. Although a hassle, I would rather comply to be as safe as possible. With all the news articles of frequent protocol changes everywhere, I don’t rely on cruise line emails to remind me to check online myself.

  12. I agree Nykki! The vaccine documents make no sense ANYWHERE! Any airport, place of business, school, cruise liners, etc. should NOT count on vaccination proof as a means, or for peace of mind. We know a copius amount of people that got the vaccine and months later still caught the virus. Everyone should have to undergo the testing to prove negative results. Why is Everyone walking around ignorant to this fact?! Businesses are implying fallacies regarding this safety net more than anyone else aside from the government….smh* Disney should know better, every business should!

  13. The only thing I think that Disney did wrong was to not require those that have been vaccinated to take the Rapid test as well, since the vaccine doesn’t work on the Delta variant.

    Though to protect everyone better and simplify matters maybe they should just require everyone to do the testing 5 days to 24 hours before, vaccine or not. Vaccine doesn’t protect agents the Delta variant, so just treat everyone the same. That way ultimate safety and no aweful surprises.

  14. A huge thank you to Disney for making and following these rules. They will keep all cruisers safer. As for the people who want to cruise and can’t follow instructions, tough luck. I feel like 20 families is not a lot so clearly it wasn’t that confusing if you can read and follow instructions.

  15. Sorry denial families, you tell your children to do their homework, but you didn’t.

    All the cruise lines have pre-embarkation, embarkation, ports of calls, and disembarkation protocols, listed on their websites.

    Those who completely rely on every nuance daily protocol changes to be relayed via your Travel agent are naively wishing upon a star ⭐️.

    A well informed travel agent will guide you and keep in contact with you.

    Our travel agent led us to the Carnival Cruise site and gave us forewarning to check it frequently.

    Cruise lines and the CDC are continually changing the cruising game.

    If one truly wants to cruise, one should do their due diligence and avoid the embarrassment and disappointment caused by self.

    As children we were all encouraged to do our homework before going to class. As adults we should show class by doing our homework before taking our family to the cruise port.

  16. I think it’s great they are doing this. And people need to take responsibility and stop casting blame. Disney KNOW BEFORE YOU GO was all over their DCL websites, Travel Agents WILL inform you because it’s their job. So, I am proud of Disney for standing firm and doing what is RIGHT to PROTECT ALL OF US.. cause we are ALL IN THIS PANDEMIC TOGETHER.

  17. I’m glad Disney is sticking to their guns. We have a cruise planned for September and it was supposed to be my son’s first cruise (he’ll be 2 at sailing), but we’re leaving him home because I can’t trust that everyone is being safe and honest – and I can’t get him to keep his mask on, and he’s required to have one.

    Personally, I feel like I’m getting emails from Disney AND my travel agent every week talking about the protocols.

  18. Why? This makes absolutely no sense and that is the reason so many were confused. Everyone should be tested. Vaccinated folks also get and transmit the virus too. Why not make sure very one is negative upon boarding. Royal made that same mistake.


  19. I was told by 2 different Disney Cruise Line cast member via phone that the RT-PCR test is accepted, as long as it is with in 5 days and 24 hours for kiddos 2-11. Mt travel agent stated the same thing. So why wasn’t it accepted.

  20. Umm how we gonna do cruises in a pandemic thats worse than the first one! This variant is waay more contagious and guests might be negative the day they boatd and positive the next day! Its not gonna work!

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