Celebrity Edge to be first ship to sail from a US port
The CDC has approved the Celebrity Edge to be the first ship to be able to sail from Fort Lauderdale with paying guests. This makes the Edge the first ship with revenue paying passengers to receive CDC approval to sail since the pandemic began. The CDC authorized 7-night Caribbean cruises on the Edge starting June 26.
CDC outlines two paths for cruise lines to sail again
The CDC is not mandating vaccinations for cruise passengers. However, they are giving cruise ships only two options to start sailing again:
- Option 1: Have a vaccination threshold of 98% of crew and 95% of passengers; or,
- Option 2: Conduct test cruises to test whether the cruise lines’ health and safety protocols are sufficient to protect passengers from the spread of Covid-19.
Cruise lines catering to children who are not eligible to receive vaccinations will likely opt for the second option. While premium and luxury lines will likely opt for the first option.
Celebrity, a premium cruise line, has announced they will require vaccinations for all guests (option 1) for passengers 16 and older. On August 1, they will require all guest 12 and older to be vaccinated. Royal Caribbean’s ships will follow option 2 and start conducting test cruises in late June.
New guidance for fully vaccinated sailings – Option 1
Relaxed CDC regulations on masks, social distancing, bars & buffets
The CDC has removed most restrictions on cruise ships sailing under option 1. Now the previous requirements are just recommendations and are left to the cruise line’s discretion. These changes include:
- Not requiring masks nor social distancing in any area, including bars and restaurants;
- Allowing guest to gather or engage in outdoor activities including restaurants and bars without wearing masks;
- Not requiring guests on independent shore excursions to wear masks indoors (unless required by local laws);
- Allowing buffets to open.
Former regulations that are now only recommendations for Option 1 sailings
- Requiring 6 feet separation in bars and restaurants by removing tables & chairs;
- Installing physical barriers like sneeze guards or partitions where 6 feet distancing isn’t viable;
- Removing shared serving utensils in restaurants;
- Eliminating self-service buffet and beverage service;
- Limiting shared food and utensils;
- Limiting seating capacity;
- Limiting or eliminating shared items like menus and food containers.
Ships sailing under Option 2
- Cruise ships can designate areas as only accessible to fully vaccinated passengers such as bars, casinos, spas, entertainment venues, dining areas and self-service buffets
Ships operating under Option 2 will implement their own policies outlined in their health and safety plans to minimize the risk of spreading Covid-19. These protocols will likely include restrictions or limitations that are no longer required for Option 1 sailings.