ORLANDO, Fla. — Hailing COVID-19 vaccinations as “a game changer,” Royal Caribbean International on Friday joined Celebrity Cruises in declaring that it’s setting sail again — floating cruise packages for June departure from islands outside the U.S.
What You Need To Know
- Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises announce they'll sail again beginning in June
- Royal Caribbean offers June cruises from Bahamas, Celebrity Cruises from St. Maarten
- Cruise lines have been shut down since last March when the pandemic hit the US
Royal Caribbean, which counts Tampa and Brevard County’s Port Canaveral among its ports, offers seven-night cruises from The Bahamas beginning June 12 on its ship Adventure of the Seas. Bookings for those cruises, which include Cozumel, Mexico, begin Wednesday, the company says.
Celebrity Cruises, another Royal Caribbean Group subsidiary, said it would begin trips out of St. Maarten beginning June 5.
Royal Caribbean says its ships for now will permit only adults fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and people under age 18 with negative test results. Its crew will be fully vaccinated, the company says.
The announcements from the sister cruise lines mark a significant development for the cruise industry. Port Canaveral says it has seen a 43% workforce reduction and a 79% loss in operating revenue over the past year.
Cruise ships have been shut down since last March when the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. In October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a “conditional sailing” order that directed cruise lines to take steps to protect crews and passengers before they could resume sailing.
Norwegian Cruise Line, which sails out of Port Canaveral and Tampa, last month extended an earlier suspension of global cruises through May 31.
Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley said the company would resume cruises “gradually and safely.”
“The vaccines are clearly a game changer for all of us, and with the number of vaccinations and their impact growing rapidly, we believe starting with cruises for vaccinated adult guests and crew is the right choice,” Bayley said in a news release. “As we move forward, we expect this requirement and other measures will inevitably evolve over time.”
Bayley touted “the opportunity to homeport in The Bahamas” while Celebrity Cruises, which sails out of Tampa, touted its new sailings from St. Maarten on Celebrity Millennium.
One Celebrity Cruises itinerary will stop in Aruba, Curacao, and Barbados. Another will stop in Tortola, St. Lucia, and Barbados.
A return to the Caribbean “marks the measured beginning of the end of what has been a uniquely challenging time for everyone,” Celebrity Cruises CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.