Major cruise lines to restart voyages for vaccinated passengers

NEW YORK (AFP) – Three giants of the cruise industry will return to the seas within weeks, with Norwegian Cruise Lines on Monday becoming the latest to announce its US ships will set sail starting in early August.

After a year of crippling losses, Carnival and Royal Caribbean said late last week that their first post-pandemic cruises will set sail in July, after the United States Centres for Disease Control (CDC) earlier in May gave the green light to allow trips with passengers and crew who received Covid-19 vaccinations.

“We have been waiting for a very long time to announce a resumption of cruising from the US. We are so proud to be sailing for the first time in over a year from our special homeport of Seattle to the breathtaking state of Alaska,” said Mr Harry Sommer, chief of Norwegian Cruise Line, in a statement.

Cruise operations were suspended on March 14, 2020, when the CDC issued a “no-sail order” to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus. Several ships already had deadly outbreaks on board.

Some cruise ships resumed operations in Europe and elsewhere last year, but the ban remained in place in the US.

All three companies will offer trips from Seattle to Alaska as their inaugural cruises.

Norwegian said “all crew and passengers must be fully vaccinated to embark”.

Carnival said its trips will be available to guests who received their final dose at least two weeks prior, and likewise Royal Caribbean will require vaccinations of all passengers over the age of 16 and after August 1, all those over the age of 12.

Norwegian will offer week-long voyages starting on August 6, while Royal Caribbean will leave port first with a similar trip on July 19 and Carnival’s Holland American Line will start on July 24.

“It’s been a tough year for everyone, but people clearly have pent-up demand to cruise again and we can’t wait to get back to what we do best,” said Royal Caribbean chief executive Richard D. Fain in last week’s statement.

Disney Cruise Lines in early May announced all trips were cancelled through the end of July, but on Monday declined to provide details to AFP on when sailing would resume.

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