It may not have been exactly as Royal Caribbean originally planned, but Odyssey of the Seas has arrived home.
The newest cruise ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet sailed into Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, which will be her homeport until at least next summer.
Port Everglades welcomed the massive new cruise ship as she pulled into port on Thursday.
Odyssey of the Seas arrived around 7am, and was met with a traditional maritime welcome of water canons.
Odyssey of the Seas will offer roundtrip cruises from Fort Lauderdale beginning on July 3, 2021.
Assuming the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approves her sailings, she will offer six- and eight-night Caribbean cruises through 2022.
Before she can start cruises, Odyssey needs to conduct test cruises to prove to the CDC the effectiveness of safety protocols developed to prevent onboard spread of Covid-19.
The 16-deck vessel is 1,138 feet long can accommodate 4,180 guests at double capacity.
Many thanks to Trent Kelly for sharing this video of Odyssey of the Seas sailing into Port Everglades.
Welcome @RoyalCaribbean #OdysseyOfTheSeas to @PortEverglades. Brand new ship stopping at its new home port for first time. Will begin sailing w/ passengers next month. @JamesVanFleet @theRCLblog @NewsfromRCgroup pic.twitter.com/9JxfEGZYx4
— Trent Kelly (@TrentKellyWPLG) June 10, 2021
Odyssey is the first Quantum Ultra Class ship to cruise from the U.S., which features SeaPlex - the largest indoor and outdoor activity complex at sea - and a vibrant, Caribbean-inspired pool deck
Guests sailing on the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to restart sailings in North America this weekend have been informed of new testing protocols to expect.
Health protocols have been evolving for the last few weeks as the cruise industry and health officials work to ensure the requirements match the needs of what is happening now.
Two different protocols have been added over the last couple days, including a new testing rule that was announced to cruisers just two days before the first sailing.
Vaccinated guests sailing on Adventure of the Seas from Nassau, Bahamas will now have to undergo a complimentary boarding day antigen test.
The tests will be conducted during the check-in process at the British Colonial Hilton resort, which is acting as the check-in terminal for these Bahamian sailings.
Royal Caribbean says if the result is negative and you’re approved to sail, shuttles will be waiting to take you to the ship.
If the result is positive or inconclusive, a pier agent will share next steps with you.
Prior to this change, vaccinated guests would not have been given a boarding day test.
Royal Caribbean says they added this test, "to give everyone additional peace of mind as we resume cruising and apologize for the inconvenience."
Vaccinated guests do not require any other pre-cruise testing.
Unvaccinated guests (children under the age of 16) will also get tested.
- Unvaccinated guests 12 years and older will need to take three tests
- SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test within five days of arriving in The Bahamas in order to satisfy Bahamas Health Visa
- Complimentary antigen test on boarding day
- A final complimentary test will take place onboard on Day 5 or 6 as required for re-entry into The Bahamas. This test may also be used for entry into your home country, if needed.
- Unvaccinated guests 2 - 11 years old will need to take two tests
- Complimentary antigen test on boarding day
- A final complimentary test will take place onboard on Day 5 or 6 as required for re-entry into The Bahamas. This test may also be used for entry into your home country, if needed.
- Guests under 2 years of age will not be tested
Royal Caribbean also changed another rule related to back-to-back unvaccinated cruisers on Adventure of the Seas.
The cruise line had no restrictions on back-to-back sailings, but has added a new rule for unvaccinated cruisers on Adventure of the Seas cruises from The Bahamas.
Unvaccinated guests (children under the age of 16) will not be able to do a back-to-back sailing, although the line did provide a temporary exception for the first few sailings since the rule was added at the last minute.
Guests booked on Adventure of the Seas with back-to-back sailings on June 12, June 19, or June 26 are exempt from the rule. Thereafter, the rule goes into effect.
For the exempted sailings, unvaccinated guests will have to take a disemabarktion Covid PCR test on Day 6 of the first cruise, as well as an antigen test before re-boarding the next sailing.
Royal Caribbean will cover the costs of both tests.
RoyalCaribbeanBlog will be onboard the first two Adventure of the Seas sailings to provide full coverage of all the changes and showcase the experiences from the first sailings back!
The restart of cruise ships around the world has lead to a bit of confusion among cruisers who are trying to understand what to expect when they get onboard later this year.
Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley posted on Facebook an attempt to clarify the situation and simplify where things stand now.
Mr. Bayley outlined what the vaccine requirements are as of right now, but he did caution the policies will likely change, " One guarantee is whatever the policy is today, it will evolve and change."
His post comes less than a day after Royal Caribbean shared vaccine requirements with travel agents, noting unvaccinated guests in certain scenarios would have to incur additional costs and different protocols.
Above all else, crew members will be fully vaccinated across the entire fleet of ships.
According to Mr. Bayley, here is the vaccine requirements for cruise ships around the world.
Vaccine will be required
For guests sailing on
- Adventure of the Seas from the Bahamas
- Anthem of the Seas from Southampton
- Jewel of the Seas from Cyprus
- Serenade of the Seas from Seattle
- Ovation of the Seas from Seattle of the Seas
- Independence of the Seas from Galveston
- Harmony of the Seas from Barcelona
- (Hopefully) Oasis of the Seas from Bayonne
"All will sail with the requirement for fully vaccinated guests, with the exception of any kids who are not age eligible for vaccines. (12 and up in the USA after August 1st). "
"Kids will be required to be tested and subject to health protocols and there will be no additional charges for any testing etc for the kids."
For these ships sailing out of Florida ports in July and August
- Freedom of the Seas
- Odyssey of the Seas
- Allure of the Seas
- Symphony of the Seas
- Mariner of the Seas
"We are strongly recommending all guests eligible for vaccines are fully vaccinated. We expect approximately 90 per cent of our guests will be vaccinated."
"Guests who choose not to be vaccinated or not willing to verify vaccination will be subject to testing and additional health protocols which will be at their expense."
"Kids not eligible for vaccines (under 12 from August 1) who sail will be required to be tested and subject to health protocols and there will be no additional charges."
"For Quantum of the Seas sailing out of Singapore since last November we operate under the Royal health protocols and guidance from the Singapore government using testing and health protocols."
"To date over 75,000 guests have sailed successfully onboard Quantum. "
Strong opinions on requiring the vaccine
Mr. Bayley asked for feedback in his post, albeit with a request for them "in a polite way", which seems to be a commentary on the flood of comments in favor of or against Royal Caribbean's policy.
Ever since the cruise line announced it would "strongly recommend" vaccines for passengers on some ships sailing from the United States, the debate to be vaccinated or not has been reignited among cruise fans.
Mr. Bayley has clearly seen some of the debate, as he said, "My only request is please share your opinion or comments in a polite way. If you could read some messages I have received!"
Included within the cruise line's ambitious July restart plans announced on Friday, Royal Caribbean changed the wording of its Covid-19 vaccine policy by saying they are now simply "strongly recommended".
While not confirmed by the cruise line, many believe the change to make the vaccine recommended from Florida ports has to do with Florida's ban on businesses asking for proof of a vaccine.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) signed a new law that prohibits businesses from being able to ask for proof of a vaccine from their customers.
Senate Bill (SB) 2006 specifies the new law prohibits "a business entity from requiring patrons or customers to provide documentation certifying vaccination against or recovery from COVID-19."
Companies that violate this law would be subject to a fine of $5,000 each time they require a customer to present a vaccine passport for service.
Ever since then, many cruise fans have been vocal in sharing their thoughts on Royal Caribbean's policy, which usually ends up with a debate on the virtues of the Covid-19 vaccine along with name calling, personal insults, and political arguments.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody fired back at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday, calling the agency's vaccine requirements, "illegal and untenable."
Florida is suing the CDC in order to get the CDC's Conditional Sail Order (CSO) lifted so that cruise ships can restart cruises without approval from the CDC.
Florida filed a response to the supplemental memorandum submitted by CDC and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The CDC has championed the fact it has acted swiftly in recent weeks to grant permission to sail, but Ms. Moody said the CDC has only made matters worse.
She mentioned the two test cruise options cruise lines face, and said it is "making test sailing so onerous that cruise lines must require near-universal vaccinations."
Cruise lines can either require 95% vaccinated passengers and skip test cruises, or do test cruise sailings.
Ms. Moody pointed out test cruises will cost "tens of millions of dollars per brand" in order to be conducted.
"Even then, cruise ships must comply with burdensome protocols that no longer apply on land, including masking and social distancing."
"For example, the CDC requires passengers who are in a pool or hot tub to “maintain physical distancing of 6 feet." The CDC also requires ships to “modify meal service and entertainment venues to facilitate social distancing."
Ms. Moody's conclusion is the CDC is overreaching, "The CDC does not have the authority to impose vaccination on cruisers. And they know this—that is why they are framing it as an alternative."
"But the vaccination “option” operates as a requirement. This option discriminates against families. Cruising is a family activity, but the 95% vaccination requirement counts kids, and therefore, excludes families."
"The vaccination requirement would force cruise ships to violate Florida (and Texas) law, even though the CDC expressly disavowed any attempt to preempt Florida law at the hearing.
"The CDC’s Option 2 requirements make sailing at full capacity impossible. Thus, the only way for cruise lines to make a reasonable profit is to adopt the illegal and untenable vaccine requirements."
Ms. Moody responded to the CDC's claims that the new bill circumventing U.S. cabotage laws, which allow cruise ships to sail to Alaska this year, would be nullified if the CSO was lifted.
Ms. Moody believes the new law is "a classic example of legislative compromise" and crafted to solve a problem in Alaska, not uphold the CDC's policies.
She also said the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act (ATRA) does not even mention the CSO (it mentions the conditional sailing certificate), and "even if ATRA had ratifying force (it does not), it would not ratify the CDC’s conduct here."
Ms. Moody also erroneously referred to the Jones Act in her statement, instead of the Passenger Vessel Services Act.
If you aren't vaccinated, your Royal Caribbean cruise will likely cost you more than if you are fully vaccinated.
During a webinar with travel agents, Royal Caribbean said it plans on handling unvaccinated guests differently, which may include extra costs and different protocols onboard.
Royal Caribbean will not mandate the Covid-19 vaccine due to the fact they are a family cruise line, but local laws in Florida and Texas make verifying who is or who is not fully vaccinated difficult.
Royal Caribbean cautioned their plans could change, but as of now, unvaccinated passengers sailing from Florida can expect extra testing costs that will not be part of the cruise fare.
- CRUISES FROM SEATTLE
- Guests who are 16 years of age or older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and those 12 or older as of Aug. 1
- CRUISES FROM FLORIDA
- It is strongly recommended that guests set sail fully vaccinated, if they are eligible. Those who are unvaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be required to undergo testing, be responsible for any expenses incurred and follow other protocols. These expenses are still being finalized.
- CRUISES FROM TEXAS
- Vaccine requirements are being finalized based on state law.
In addition, other health protocols may be mandated for them.
Rules for cruises from Texas are still being discussed.
Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed, explained the current plan, "Cruises from Florida: It is strongly recommended that guests set sail fully vaccinated if they are eligible.
"Those who are unvaccinated, or unable to verify vaccination, will be required to undergo testing, and they will be responsible for any expenses incurred and follow other protocols. These expenses are still being finalized."
She said exact costs are not known yet because it is will being worked out.
Ms. Freed said protocols for cruises from Texas are "being finalized". Texas just passed a law prohibiting local businesses from asking for proof of vaccination, similar to Florida's law.
Royal Caribbean's policy mirrors what Celebrity Cruises announced yesterday, when they indicated unvaccinated guests will be able to sail, but there are implications to doing so.
It also follows up on what Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO said earlier this week in a video update, when he disclosed unvaccinated passengers would have different rules, "due to the health and legal requirements of many jurisdictions, those who are unvaccinated will need to undergo additional testing and other restrictions. That necessarily adds to their cost, and adds limitations on the cruise for those people who choose to be unvaccinated."
Mr. Fain added that there would be no additional costs for children who are not eligible for the vaccine.
Royal Caribbean cruise ships have been coming into Florida ports regularly for the past couple of weeks, and today we have a look at two fan favorites.
Port Canaveral saw Mariner of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas both arrive this week.
Each ship is coming in to get its crew members vaccinated, which is part of Royal Caribbean's overall strategy of getting all of its crew members vaccinated in preparation for cruises to restart.
Constant Cruiser shared aerial photos he took from a helicopter with RoyalCaribbeanBlog, so that everyone could enjoy a nice look at these lovely ships.
Royal Caribbean recently announced restart plans for both ships, on top of getting approval for test cruises to begin.
Freedom of the Seas will lead the charge for Royal Caribbean when she becomes the first cruise ship to conduct test cruises and subsequently restart sailings in North America.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave permission for Freedom of the Seas to conduct test cruises from PortMiami on June 20-22, 2021.
Each cruise ship needs to be approved by the CDC in order to conduct test cruises.
Simulated voyages (also known as test cruises) are when cruise lines can operate ships with volunteer passengers in order to prove their new health protocols work.
After that, she is scheduled to begin sailing with passengers on July 2, 2021 from PortMiami on short Caribbean cruises to the Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Mariner of the Seas just received permission to start test cruises last week, and will begin her simulated voyages on August 1, 2021.
Royal Caribbean plans to start revenue cruises on Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral, beginning on August 23, 2021.
Just like Freedom, Mariner will offer short sailings to the Bahamas.
By the end of August, 12 Royal Caribbean ships will be cruising once again across The Bahamas, Caribbean, Alaska and Europe.
Whether you are booked or thinking of booking a summer cruise, check out our Summer 2021 Cruise Planning Guide for advice and information on what to expect on all of these new sailings.
Celebrity Cruises will not ask for proof of vaccine in Florida, but there will be different rules for those passengersIn:
Ever since Celebrity Cruises announced restart plans for cruises from the United States, the big question has been how will the cruise line get around Florida's vaccine passport ban.
Florida passed a law that prohibits any business from asking anyone to provide proof of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Under Florida law, it is impermissible for any business operating in Florida to require patrons or customers to provide documentation certifying Covid-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery “to gain access to, entry upon, or services from” the business.
The new Florida law goes into effect on July 1, and carries with up to a $5,000 fine per violation.
Celebrity Cruises told travel agents on a webinar on Tuesday that they will not require passengers to show proof of vaccination, but someone that prefers or opts out of showing proof will be held to a different set of protocols onboard, as well as additional costs to incur to confirm they are healthy.
During a webinar with travel agents, Dondra Ritzenthaler, Celebrity Cruises Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Service, informed travel agents of their plan for U.S. cruises so they can sail and comply with Florida's laws.
Celebrity still intends to sail with at least 95% vaccinated guests, but it will optional to show proof of being vaccinated or not.
Celebrity requires its passengers from the United States who are age 16 and above to be fully vaccinated. As of August 1, 2021, all guests age 12 and older must be fully vaccinated.
"Florida is a little bit different," Ms. Ritzenthaler explained. "We will still go out with 100 percent of our crew and 95 percent of our guest vaccinated."
"In Florida, we will not require you to have to show proof of vaccination, because we are doing this exactly the right way, but we will go out with 95% of our guests still vaccinated."
If you choose not to show proof of vaccination, then there are additional steps required to fulfill in order to sail.
According to Celebrity, guests who do not show proof of vaccination will be considered unvaccinated and will require a SARS-COV-2 test at the terminal at their own expense.
Guests that do not meet the requirements will be denied boarding. Unvaccinated passengers may be also be restricted in certain ports, depending on the local laws.
"Guests who do not provide documentation of full vaccination will be considered unvaccinated and will require a Covid test at the terminal at their own expense. Guests that do not meet the requirements will be denied boarding."
What was not made clear during the webinar is how exactly Celebrity will ensure a 95% vaccinated minimum of guests onboard, if they are not certain how many guests will not provide proof of vaccination at check-in.
This question came up again, and Ms. Ritzenthaler assured travel agents they would stop selling certain room categories depending on vaccine status.
"Our President and CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, right before this call said, Dondra, you reassure every travel adviser on this call that we will sail with 95 percent of our guests vaccinated. Guys, the way we're going to do that is we're going to manage the sailing, right?
"We're going to make sure that we open some cabin categories. We closed some cabin categories. We are going to make sure that 95 percent of our guests are vaccinated. That is on us, not you. But you know, you can trust me. You can trust this brand. We will go out at ninety five percent vaccinated on our ships."
Masks will not be required for vaccinated guests and children 15 and younger.
Unvaccinated adult guests are required to wear a mask at all times, except while eating or drinking or in their stateroom.
Guests are not restricted to cruise line excursions, although unvaccinated guests may face restrictions based on local laws.
On cruises longer than 4 nights from the United States, unvaccinated guests will be required to take a SARS-CoV-2 test prior to disembarkation, which will be at their own expense.
The disembarkation test will be administered by Celebrity at no cost for children or other persons unable to be vaccinated.
Royal Caribbean has shared the health protocols for Brits sailing on Anthem of the Seas from Southampton this summer.
Anthem of the Seas will begin sailing from Southampton, England on July 7, 2021 on sailings with a combination of 4-night cruises to nowhere in early July and 5- to 8-night British Isles cruises, starting 15th July, that feature visits to destinations such as Liverpool, England, Kirkwall in Scotland and Belfast, Northern Ireland.
These cruises are available to UK residents only, and proof of residency will be required.
The cruise line has now shared what health measures will be required for guests sailing onboard, although the protocols are being continually evaluated. Royal Caribbean says booked guests can expect to be advised of the latest requirements within 30 days of sailing.
All crew members will be vaccinated, and anyone that is 18 years old or older must be fully vaccinated as well.
If you are fully vaccinated, you’ll need to present your testing results (through the Eurofins Trust One app or a physical test result) and Proof of Vaccination (either on the NHS app or a NHS vaccination certificate) on boarding day.
If you are not fully vaccinated before the sailing because the healthcare system is working by age group, you will not be able to sail.
Vaccinated guests must bring the negative result of an rt-PCR test taken within 72 hours of sailing. We will email instructions on how to register for your complimentary test approximately 14-18 days before your cruise.
Unvaccinated guests, 2-17 years old, must take a complimentary rapid antigen test at the terminal and receive a negative result in order to sail. We will email instructions on how to register in advance approximately 14-18 days before your cruise.
Guests Under The Age Of 2 have no testing requirements.
No further tests or documentation is required for your return and disembark at Southampton.
Outdoors onboard: Masks are not required outdoors in open-air areas, such as decks, balconies and by the pool, unless you are in a crowded setting. Masks are not permitted in the pool or for any activity where they could become wet.
Indoors onboard: All guests 11 years and older must wear a mask in all indoor public spaces, unless seated and actively eating or drinking. Masks are not required in your stateroom as long as you are with your own travel party.
At public ports of call, local face covering guidelines apply.
Royal Caribbean says it anticipates guests will not have to book a tour in order to go ashore, but it is not confirmed yet.
"At this time we anticipate that you won’t need to book a tour to go ashore in our destinations, we are working closely with each of the ports we visit and will ensure we adhere to the protocols they have defined."
Royal Caribbean recommends making reservations for onboard dining.
Specialty dining and My Time Dining times can be booked via the Cruise Planner app. Reservations for the Main Dining Room and Windjammer can be made once onboard by using the Royal Caribbean App or calling the reservation line.
Windjammer will be open for breakfast and lunch, and food will now be served to you by crew members to avoid guests sharing serving utensils.
Venues will seat at a reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing, and the cruise line will also be offering more showtimes throughout each sailing so there is an opportunity for everyone to see the shows.
Show times can be reserved via the Royal Caribbean App.
Believe it or not, I am headed back on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship for the first time since February 2020.
I will board Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas for the first North American sailing by Royal Caribbean International when we depart Nassau, Bahamas on June 12.
Going on a cruise ship again for the return to service in the western hemisphere for Royal Caribbean is a reunion of memories, friends, and fun.
Royal Caribbean announced in March that Adventure of the Seas would sail from The Bahamas, and since then has been something the entire cruise industry has been watching.
Why we chose this cruise
Photo by Theoni P.
Simply put, I booked the first sailing of Adventure of the Seas because I wanted to be there for the first opportunity to cruise again.
Sure, I booked this cruise for the journalistic element of covering what is happening with Royal Caribbean, and certainly a return to service is significant. But I also booked this sailing for deeply personal reasons.
I love going on cruises, and going without cruises for well over a year meant something big was missing from my life. So when I heard there was going to be a cruise to go on this summer, I told my travel agent to book it before I could even talk it over with my wife or kids.
Exemplifying how excited I am to get back onboard, I have actually booked a back-to-back sailing. This means we will be onboard for the first and second cruises Adventure of the Seas will offer.
My plans onboard
Like almost everyone reading this post, I am very curious to see what it is like being back on a cruise.
The global health crisis has changed so much, so what will it be like to go on a cruise ship in a world still dealing with Covid-19?
When I booked the cruise, I thought for certain we would all be wearing masks all around the ship, have limited capacity in many venues, be limited to cruise line shore excursions, and a variety of other stringent protocols mandated by the cruise line.
As it turns out, things will be much closer to a normal cruise pre-shutdown than I could have ever imagined.
Royal Caribbean announced last week the protocols onboard, and as a fully vaccinated guest, there are very few changes that I am aware of currently. On this cruise, all adults over the age or 16 must be fully vaccinated to sail.
I am traveling with my two daughters, who are 10 and 6 years old. Neither of them are vaccinated, but will be able to sail with primarily the requirement of wearing a face mask when going between venues, and perhaps in other areas.
This will provide sufficient time to truly get a sense of what a cruise is like these days, but also satisfy that craving so many cruise fans have been denied since early 2020.
This is also my first time ever sailing on Adventure of the Seas, so I also get to check off another ship from my list of vessels I have sailed on. This leaves just Voyager of the Seas as the only Voyager Class ship I have not yet been on.
My plans on shore
I think most people booking the first cruise back would be happy if the ship sat in port for a week, but we are indeed going to visit a few ports of call.
First, our cruise departs from Nassau, Bahamas. This is the first time Royal Caribbean has sailed from here, which means some changes and new experiences.
All guests must secure a Bahamas health visa, which used to be more difficult than it is now. The Bahamas relaxed their health visa requirements for the fully vaccinated, and kids 11 and under do not need a test to get into the country.
We will fly in the day before the cruise, so expect a pre-cruise live blog post all about getting to Nassau, and the various steps along the way.
Once our cruise sets sail, we will visit:
- Perfect Day at CocoCay two days in a row
- Cozumel, Mexico
- Freeport, Grand Bahama
Yes, you read that correctly. We are visiting Royal Caribbean's private island twice in one sailing (and four times across our back-to-back cruise). Before cruises shutdown, itineraries visiting CocoCay twice in one sailing were extremely rare, so this feels like a huge win.
Our plans for Perfect Day at CocoCay are to work in as much of the island as we can, including a day at the water park, renting a floating cabana at the Coco Beach Club, and plenty of chicken sandwiches.
One major change Royal Caribbean announced last week was we could book independent shore excursions in Cozumel and Freeport, which is a tremendous improvement. Royal Caribbean's tour options were extremely limited, so the additional flexibility is very welcome.
In Cozumel, I am still looking through a few beach day options. We love going to Paradise Beach, but are considering trying something new to mix it up a bit.
Freeport is a port I have not explored before, but I was able to book a hotel room at Lighthouse Pointe at the Grand Lucayan Resort to check out what could be the site of Royal Caribbean's next big project. They are not selling day passes due to Covid-19, but a hotel room for the four of us was not much more than what the day pass might have cost us otherwise.
My Adventure of the Seas cruise begins on Saturday, June 12th, and I will be sharing the details on the blog, as well as across my social media channels. Be sure to follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter for live updates throughout the day.
I invite you to share in this experience with me, by posting in the comments for any blog post questions and comments you may have. I try to make these live blogs as interactive as I can, so I want everyone to feel welcome to share their thoughts.
Thanks for reading all of this and welcome aboard our next fun live blog experience!
We now know what will be the second cruise ship that will restart operations in the United States from Celebrity Cruises.
The Celebrity Equinox will begin sailing from Fort Lauderdale on July 25, with itineraries that visit Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Nassau, Bahamas.
According to the cruise line, Equinox has been approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to sail.
Celebrity Cruises does not need to operate test cruises because they will mandate at least 95% of its cruise passengers will be fully vaccinated, which means the CDC fast-tracks the ship to restart sooner.
Celebrity made headlines when they announced Celebrity Edge would be the first major cruise ship to sail from the United States at the end of June.
Edge will sail beginning on June 26 on 7-night cruises.
Celebrity Equinox joins eight ships in the Celebrity fleet that have been announced as part of its phased summer restart, including:
- Celebrity Millennium, which began sailing seven-night Caribbean itineraries from St. Maarten on June 5; and will reposition to Seattle to sail seven-night Alaska Dawes Glacier cruises beginning July 23. Celebrity Summit will then sail the remaining St. Maarten season through August, followed by plans to sail a new series of four- and five-night sailings from Fort Lauderdale to the Western Caribbean through late October.
- Celebrity Apex – sailing seven-night Greek Isles itineraries from June 19;
- Celebrity Edge – sailing a rotating schedule of Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Fort Lauderdale, beginning June 26;
- Celebrity Silhouette – sailing the UK coastline as of July 3;
- Celebrity Flora – returning to the extraordinary Galapagos islands as of July 3, followed by the award-winning Celebrity Xpedition and intimate 16-passenger Celebrity Xploration on July 24, and September 18, respectively.
Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo shared her thoughts about the new restart plans, "It is so exciting to announce yet another ship on the heels of Celebrity Millennium leading the industry’s Caribbean comeback to rave reviews just this past Saturday. From the outpouring of comments and emotion from our guests and crew on that sailing, it’s clear that people are ready to cruise back to normal."
"We’ve all been waiting for the day we could get away, again, to the places we’ve been dreaming of and that ‘someday’ is here."
Guests sailing on a Celebrity ship restarting operations this summer can expect a myriad of health protocols:
- Staggered Arrivals and Departures – Terminal arrivals and departures will be staggered by appointment, with guests having the ability to select their preferred times based on travel plans.
- Contactless Transactions – Celebrity’s digitally advanced mobile app* transforms the decades-old large-group-gathering Muster safety drill into a personal eMuster experience that guests can complete on their mobile device or interactive stateroom TV, avoiding large group gatherings. The app also expedites the boarding process; and allows guests to read menus and book dining reservations and shore excursions via their smartphone.
- Appropriate Face Coverings – All guests 2 years of age and older will be required to wear an appropriate face covering in the Terminal. Once onboard, and unless otherwise stipulated by local governments in the destinations being visited, masks will not be required of vaccinated guests in accordance with CDC guidance for sailings with vaccinated crew and guests.
All Celebrity ships will sail with a vaccinated crew. U.S. guests ages 16 and older must be fully vaccinated and, as of August 1, 2021, all U.S. guests ages 12 and older must be fully vaccinated.