Want to cruise from Florida but don't want to get a COVID vaccine? Royal Caribbean says buy travel insurance

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USA TODAY 30 June, 2021 - 01:37pm 17 views

Do you have to be vaccinated to go on a cruise?

The CDC is requiring cruise ships to follow stringent public health protocols, including holding simulated test voyages to test the ship's Covid-19 measures before a ship receives approval for passenger voyages or requiring 95% of passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated. ForbesCovid-19 Cruise Concerns Continue: Royal Caribbean Makes Unvaccinated Passengers Buy Travel Insurance

Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas completes test cruise, can sail with paying passengers

USA TODAY 30 June, 2021 - 11:46pm

Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas ship has received Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approval to sail with paying passengers.

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Cruising in U.S. waters will resume this summer, but according to experts they will not look the same. Here are some things that will be different. USA TODAY

Royal Caribbean International's Freedom of the Seas ship has received Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approval to sail with paying passengers after completing the first test cruise carrying employee volunteers in U.S. waters earlier this month.

"Today, Royal Caribbean International received the Conditional Sailing Certificate for Freedom of the Seas, which provides approval for passenger voyages. This follows the successful completion of the ship’s simulated voyage earlier this month," Royal Caribbean said in a statement provided by spokesperson Lyan Sierra-Caro.

The ship's first sailing carrying paying passengers will run July 2 through July 5 to celebrate Independence Day, according to the company. It will sail from Miami and stop at Nassau, Bahamas, and Royal Caribbean's private island Perfect Day at CocoCay. 

Freedom of the Seas is Royal Caribbean International's first ship to resume sailing with paying passengers from a U.S. port.

The upcoming cruises on Freedom of the Seas will carry fully vaccinated crew and "the majority of guests" will also be fully vaccinated, according to Royal Caribbean. Unvaccinated guests, which the cruise line expects to be mainly children, will be subject to additional health protocols including testing.

"It is strongly recommended that guests set sail fully vaccinated, if they are eligible," Sierra-Caro told USA TODAY about cruises on Freedom of the Seas and for all sailings out of Florida. "Those who are unvaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols at their own expense."

Children who are ineligible for the vaccine will not be charged for additional testing.

Celebrity Cruises, the sister line to Royal Caribbean International, dropped its vaccination requirement in Florida before departing on its first sailing with paying passengers. Initially, Celebrity had committed to a vaccine requirement to bypass a test sailing in accordance with CDC guidance but that mandate was at odds with a Florida state law. While it dropped the requirement for proof of vaccines, Celebrity Edge sailed Saturday from Florida with around 99% of its passengers vaccinated.

USA TODAY has reached out to the CDC for comment.

© 2021 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC.

The Top 10 Cruise Stories of the First Six Months of 2021

Cruise Industry News 30 June, 2021 - 11:42pm

With 2021 half over, we look back on the top 10 cruise stories of the first six months of 2021 as the industry continues a staggered return to service.

On Jan. 25, 2021, the first cruise ships to have their sailings cancelled completed one year without passengers. To mark the occasion, Cruise Industry News published a retrospective of the events that lead to a full cruise industry stop.

While the pandemic has closed shipyards and delayed cruise lines' plans, up to 46 ships are still scheduled to debut before December. Thirty of these were set to be delivered during the year. The other 16 are new ships that could welcome the passengers for the first time after 2020 deliveries.

In a surprising move, Royal Caribbean sold its Azamara brand to Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm specializing in consumer, retail and distribution investments. The deal was completed in March and included Azamara’s three-ship fleet.

In March, England announced the resumption of domestic cruising in the country starting in May. With that, several cruise lines announced plans to reenter service in the region, including MSC, Viking, P&O, Royal Caribbean and more. 

With most ships still out of service, the three major cruise companies continued to burn through cash in 2021. In May, the combined cash burn rate for Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line holdings was approximately $990 million per month.  

After much wait, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updates to its Conditional Sail Order in May and April, effectively allowing cruise ships operations to restart. Carnival was one of the first cruise lines to get the CDC approval for operations in Florida and Texas.

On May 24, U.S. President Joe Biden signed the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act into law, temporarily allowing foreign-flagged cruise ships to sail in the region without having to dock in Canada first. The law paved the way for the majority of cruise ships to operate in Alaska this summer, with Carnival, Princess, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian and other brands announcing restart plans for the region.

With 1,105 passengers onboard, the Celebrity Edge departed Port Everglades on June 26, marking the first revenue sailing for a large cruise ship from a U.S. port in 15 months. The Celebrity Cruises vessel was the first ship above the 250-person mark to sail, having received the green light from government authorities.

As the global fleet prepares to return to service, shipyards saw an uptick in cruise ship drydocks in 2021. With most of the fleet still out of commercial service, cruise operators took the opportunity to get work, as well as necessary classification society inspections, done before the actual resumption.

In May, Norwegian Cruise Line revealed its new Norwegian Prima, the first in a series of six newbuilds. With a capacity for 3,215 guests, the vessel is set to debut in 2022 and features an all-new design.

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