Melissa Alonso, CNN • Published 6th June 2021
(CNN) — Royal Caribbean International announced Friday that six of its ships will sail from major US ports in Florida and Texas beginning in July.
Vaccines are not required for passengers, but all ship crew members will be vaccinated. Guests who are unvaccinated “will be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols,” according to a news release from the company.
The company’s first cruise since the coronavirus pandemic began will launch on July 2 in Miami, more than a year after the US Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention’s (CDC) no-sail order brought cruises to a halt, said the release.
“This is it. Vacationers can finally plan to take their precious time off this summer and truly get away after what has been a challenging time for everyone,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, in the release.
Most ships are still awaiting CDC approval to sail. Since October of last year, the agency has issued a series of evolving requirements and guidelines in the form of a Conditional Sailing Order, CNN has reported.
A lawsuit challenging that order from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is still unresolved. The two sides failed to reach an agreement in mediation, DeSantis’ office said Thursday, according to the Miami Herald.
The cruise line says it is continuing discussions with the CDC and “multiple state, local and port authorities in the U.S. and with various destination communities regarding the various requirements for the upcoming sailings,” said the release.
Bayley thanked DeSantis, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Broward County Mayor Steve Geller and others “for their steadfast support of our industry and for providing access to vaccines to the thousands of crew on our ships off the eastern seaboard.”
According to Bayley, as of Friday afternoon, “90% of all vacationers booking with Royal Caribbean are either vaccinated or planning to get vaccinated in time for their cruise.”
By the end of August, 12 Royal Caribbean ships will be cruising in the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Alaska and Europe, the company said.
The news release said people 16 and older sailing from Seattle to Alaska must be fully vaccinated and those 12 or older must be vaccinated as of August 1. Travelers departing from an international port must meet that nation’s travel requirements.
Celebrity Edge, part of the Celebrity Cruises line owned by Royal Caribbean Group, announced in late May that it had been cleared to sail from Fort Lauderdale with paying passengers in June.