Cruise lines are announcing new sail dates – but only for passengers who have had vaccines against COVID-19. The moves are a sign that it is likely most lines will insist on mandatory jabs for all except those in exempt categories because of ill health or other medical reasons.
Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity have made announcements about vaccinated-only sailings in the UK and Bahamas. Australian cruise lines have yet to decide on whether or not to make vaccines a must before booking a cruise, as they watch the roll-out and reaction of the public. Most have told Cruise Passenger they are concerned about families with young children or young women, who are the most hesitant in most published polls about taking the jab.
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity have announced sailings from Greece and Cyprus. The all-new 7-night cruises depart from Limassol, Cyprus. Starting July 10, Jewel of the Seas will call Cyprus home for the first time and sail to the picturesque shores and ancient ruins in Cyprus, Greece and the Greek Isles through October.
No word yet on whether they will be for vaccined-only guests.
Princess Cruises announced a series of short breaks and week-long cruises aboard Regal Princess and Sky Princess sailing from the UK this summer. Regal Princess will offer 14 itineraries in July to September, while Sky Princess will sail eight.
A statement said the advanced progress of the UK vaccination programme meant it could insist on vaccinated guests only.
Both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity have said they will only sail vaccinated passengers on new Bahamas itineraries.
Royal Caribbean plans to start cruising in the Bahamas on June 12, and Celebrity says it will launch journeys from St Maarten with seven-day sailings. Royal is reopening its private island Perfect Day at CocoCay.
The Bahamas allows the lines to by-pass the US Centre for Disease Control regulations which called for trial cruises and ship protocol testing before a sailing start.
While passengers under the age of 18 can sail with negative PCR test results, the crew and other passengers must be vaccinated.
Royal Caribbean’s CEO Michael Bayley said: “The vaccines are clearly a game-changer for all of us. And with the number of vaccinations and the impact growing rapidly, we believe starting with cruises for vaccinated adult guests and crew is the right choice.
Adventure of the Seas will make the initial sailings as she carried 3,800 passengers – small by the standards of Royal’s newer, bigger vessels.
Mr Bayley cited the Singapore sailings of the line’s Quantum of the Seas as proving sailing was now safe.
Earlier, the head of the Federal Maritime Commission Louise Sola said the American government should restart cruising for vaccinated passengers only.