CDC Approves First Revenue Cruise in US Post Pandemic
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that it will allow Celebrity Cruises to become the first cruise to sail with paying passengers on board. The approval requires that the Royal Caribbean subsidiary meets its criteria to have 95% of passengers and 95% of crew vaccinated, the agency said.
If those requirements are met, Royal Caribbean Group will start seven-night cruises to the Caribbean on its Celebrity Cruises brand ship, Celebrity Edge, on June 26. It will sail out of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale and visit Mexico and The Bahamas. This will be a big milestone for the cruise industry which has been shut down in the U.S. since March 2020 after COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths on several cruise ships.
“For the past 15 months our conversations with friends and loved ones about seeing the world have been accompanied by the phrase ‘someday.’ I’m beyond proud and excited to say that day has arrived,” said Celebrity Cruises CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo in a statement, as reported by Miami Herald.
Celebrity will require 100 percent of crew members and all passengers over 16 to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before boarding. That requirement will expand to all passengers ages 12 and up, starting in August. To meet CDC requirements, the cruise line will stop selling tickets to unvaccinated passengers once it reaches five percent capacity passengers under 16 who have not been fully vaccinated.
There could be some legal issues with that requirement. Florida passed a law banning “vaccine passports” or asking anyone to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, which goes into effect on July 1. Businesses can be fined up to $5,000 per violation. The only exemption in the law is for healthcare providers.
“Requiring customers to show proof of immunization violates the spirit of the governor’s Emergency Order 21-81, which prohibits vaccine passports and protects the fundamental rights of Floridians – including the right to medical privacy,” Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’ press secretary, told USA Today.