The federal government is allowing cruises to resume as long as nearly all passengers and crew are vaccinated against COVID-19. Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill banning business from requiring proof of vaccination, so cruise lines must prove the effectiveness of their COVID-19 safety protocols on test cruises.
The Celebrity Edge is moored at Port Everglades, Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Celebrity Edge is the first cruise ship to leave a U.S. port since the coronavirus pandemic brought the industry to a 15-month standstill. The seven-ni
On Saturday, the Celebrity Edge departed Fort Lauderdale, Florida, becoming the first cruise ship to leave a U.S. port in 15 months. Celebrity Cruises, one of Royal Caribbean Cruise’s brands, said 99% of the passengers on board were vaccinated, well over the 95% requirement imposed by the CDC. The seven-night cruise is sailing at 40% capacity.
Royal Caribbean’s official comeback is set to begin on July 2, when Freedom of the Seas is set to kick off three- and four-night Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay sailings from Miami.
Vaccinated guests won’t have to undergo any testing, but unvaccinated guests age 2 or older will have to undergo multiple tests before and during the trip. Unvaccinated guests will be required to pay a $136 fee that will go to a third-party testing vendor. Testing for guests between the ages of 2 and 15 will be complimentary.
Royal Caribbean also noted that “there will be venues and events restricted to vaccinated guests only.” The company previously said that it expects about 90% of Florida passengers to be vaccinated by the time ships start sailing in July.
“Honestly, people are chomping at the bit to cruise again,” Donald said. “We do not have an issue with being able to fill the ships. People are ready to sail and they know the long history of the cruise industry.”
According to Donald, Carnival continued cruises in Europe during the pandemic prior to vaccines becoming available, but limited the capacity of the ships to allow for social distancing. He noted that of the 400,000 or so guests that sailed Carnival lines abroad during the pandemic, there were less than 50 coronavirus cases on board the ships.
Carnival Corporation reported losing $2.1 billion during the second quarter due to pandemic shutdowns but saw booking volumes for future cruises jump 45% from the previous quarter. Meanwhile, cumulative bookings for 2022 are already ahead of bookings from 2019, which was a strong year. Carnival says 42 ships equating to more than half its fleet spanning nine brands have either resumed sailing or have announced that they will by the end of November.
FOX Business’ Paul Best, Breck Dumas and The Associated Press contributed to this report