New Texas ‘Vaccine Passport’ Ban Could Make Carnival Cruise Vaccine Mandate Illegal

Carnival plans to require proof of vaccination for all guests. In response, Gov. Greg Abbott said he’s signing a law that’ll prohibit the requirement.

Gail Delaughter / Houston Public Media
Galveston’s cruise ship terminal.

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Updated 6:38 a.m. CT Tuesday

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday signed into law a bill that would ban businesses in Texas from requiring proof of vaccination from its customers — the same day Carnival Cruise Line said its ships would require its Galveston passengers to prove just that.

The cruise line announced the news via a press release Monday, and wrote that two ships, Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze, will be returning to the Port of Galveston in July.

The press release went on to claim that serving unvaccinated people would “make it very difficult to deliver the experience” that Carnival’s guests have come to expect.

“These cruises are available for guests who have received their final dose of a CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise and have proof of vaccination,” the press release read.

Soon after the announcement, Abbott took to Twitter to announce he’d be signing a new piece of legislation Monday that would prohibit such a move.

“Texas is open 100%, and we want to make sure that you have the freedom to go where you want without limits,” Abbott said in a video while signing the bill into law.

Abbott did not specify what legislation he planned to sign, but a bill that would ban such requirements — Senate Bill 968 — was sent to the governor's desk last week. Under that bill, any business that requires proof of vaccination is not eligible to receive a grant or enter into a contract with the state.

About 44% of Texans over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated, and about 54% of Texans have received at least one vaccine dose as of Tuesday morning, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Abbott previously signed an executive order in April prohibiting state agencies from requiring proof of vaccination.

In a statement, Carnival wrote that the cruise line was still planning to comply with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, despite the new law.

“We are evaluating the legislation recently signed into law in Texas regarding vaccine information,” the statement read. “The law provides exceptions for when a business is implementing COVID protocols in accordance with federal law which is consistent with our plans to comply with the (CDC) guidelines.”