Major cruise lines to restart voyages for vaccinated passengers

Carnival and Royal Caribbean said late last week their first post-pandemic cruises will set sail in July, after the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) earlier this month gave the green light to allow trips with passengers and crew who received COVID-19 vaccinations.

Carnival Cruise Line ships. Picture: @CarnivalCruise/Twitter

NEW YORK - 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 their first post-pandemic cruises will set sail in July, after the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) earlier this month 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," Harry Sommer, chief of Norwegian Cruise Line, said 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 United States.

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 1 August all those over the age of 12.

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

"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," Royal Caribbean Chief Executive Richard D. Fain said in last week's statement.

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

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