GLAVESTON – The first cruise sets sail from Galveston this weekend for the first time since the pandemic, but a Houston mom and her 8-year-old twin daughters won’t be on board as planned due to a mix-up over vaccination waivers.
In May, Cherrish Berryman booked the trip on Carnival Vista, which leaves Galveston for the western Caribbean on her daughter’s birthday, July 3.
Berryman said she received several emails in the weeks leading up to the trip, but said she was unaware her daughters, who are not eligible to be vaccinated, needed a waiver until last Friday when she was flagged trying to fill out a health assessment survey.
“I clicked that I was vaccinated and I submitted it, and then it came down to my children and I went to do Ivy’s and it said no because she wasn’t vaccinated because she’s 8-years-old and I was flagged,” Berryman said.
Berryman told KPRC 2 a Carnival customer service representative said she needed to fill out waivers for the 8-year-old’s, and that the form was available to download online.
“I said ‘Where?’ She couldn’t tell me where, and then she told me they’re no longer accepting the waivers and they’ve already met the 5% of unvaccinated passengers. She said I could still continue on the cruise, but the girls could not sail,” Berryman said.
Berryman said the customer service representative told her an email about the waiver went out in mid-June. Berryman said she never received the email.
A Carnival spokesperson told KPRC 2 emails about plans for operating vaccinated cruises under CDC guidelines and directions on signing up for the exemption process were sent to all passengers on June 7 and June 8. Carnival says their records show Berryman received the emails, but did not click on the link to sign up for the exemption process.
“We know that Ms. Berryman and her daughters are disappointed. We are disappointed for them, and we are very sorry that they will not be able to sail with us. We are in the business of giving our guests fun and memorable vacations, and having to cancel reservations is not something we enjoy doing. However, ultimately, we had to do so for a small number of guests because of the requirements we must meet during this initial return to guest operations,” said Carnival’s chief communications officer, Chris Chiames.
“There should be a lot of different alerts and reminders for something that important as a waiver that can ruin a trip if it’s not filled out,” Berryman said.
As vaccination guidelines change, travel agents warn customers to expect the unexpected and pay attention to the fine print.
“For people who are interested in taking cruises that are just restarting, truly do your research and understand what’s required,” said Rey Alton of Almeda Travel.
Berryman said Carnival offered her a full refund and she plans to take her children to Florida this weekend instead of the cruise.