Royal Caribbean and its sister line Celebrity Cruises have both announced they are relaunching their services in June – but say passengers can only travel if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The move ends a yearlong forced hiatus following the outbreak of the pandemic.
But the decision to only allow vaccinated customers on board has sparked calls to boycott firms from some, who say the cruise line are ‘eroding freedoms’.
Vaccine critic Dr. Simone Gold tweeted: ‘WOW: @RoyalCaribbean cruises is now requiring you to get an experimental vaccine to book a cruise with them.
‘I will be boycotting the company instead. Who else is with me? #BoycottRC’
Jan Nolin said: ‘@RoyalCaribbean my medical information is none of your business! I won’t be patronizing any business that requires my personal health information.’
Another Twitter user, Shelley Orr, added: ‘Our freedoms are eroding right before our very eyes!!’
Royal Caribbean and its sister line Celebrity Cruises have both announced they are relaunching their services in June. Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas cruise ship is moored at Marina Bay Cruise Center after a passenger tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during a cruise to nowhere, in Singapore, December 9, 2020
The move ends a yearlong forced hiatus following the outbreak of the pandemic. The Celebrity Infinity Cruise ship returns to PortMiami from a cruise in the Caribbean as the world deals with the coronavirus outbreak on March 14, 2020 in Miami, Florida
But the decision to only allow vaccinated customers on board has sparked calls to boycott firms from some, who say the cruise line are ‘eroding freedoms’
The Celebrity Millennium ship will relaunch on June 5 from St. Maarten.
One itinerary will stop in Aruba, Curacao and Barbados, and another will stop in Tortola, St. Lucia and Barbados.
Royal Caribbean Group’s namesake line will start a week later with a voyage leaving from Nassau, the Bahamas on the Adventure of the Seas.
Passengers will also have to adhere to the requirements of the country they visit.
US air travelers top 1.5 million in a single day for first time since March 2020
More than 1.5 million people streamed through US airport security checkpoints on Sunday, the largest number in more than a year when the pandemic first brought the travel industry to a crashing halt.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said Monday it screened about 1.54 million people Sunday, which appeared to be the largest number since March 13 2020.
This marked the 11th straight day that numbers topped more than one million, as a growing number of people are taking to the skies after becoming vaccinated against COVID-19 or being drawn by the lure of spring break season.
While this comes as welcome news for the airline industry which was one of the hardest hit over the last year, the trend flies in the face of guidance issued by the nation’s top health experts.
The CDC has warned that a surge in travel could kick off another wave of the virus – a worrying trend that was witnessed first after Thanksgiving and, second, after Christmas.
TSA data shows more than triple the number of people passed through airport security Sunday than the comparable Sunday one year ago when just 454,516 people traveled.
The seven-day rolling average of screenings has also doubled since February 1.
Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International called the vaccines ‘a game changer’.
He added: ‘With the number of vaccinations and their impact growing rapidly, we believe starting with cruises for vaccinated adult guests and crew is the right choice.
‘As we move forward, we expect this requirement and other measures will inevitably evolve over time’
Celebrity Cruises CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said returning to the Caribbean ‘marks the measured beginning of the end of what has been a uniquely challenging time for everyone.’
She told Good Morning America that all guests and crew over the age of 18 must be fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 shot. Children will be required to show a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their cruise.
With the Caribbean such a popular destination, ‘It´s not entirely surprising to see both Celebrity and Royal Caribbean finding a way to return to the region,’ said Colleen McDaniel, editor or Cruise Critic, a website that reviews cruises.
‘But it is massive news for the cruise industry, and for the Caribbean itself.’
In the Dutch Caribbean country of St. Maarten, tourism accounts for nearly 80% of all jobs, and nearly 80% of tourists arrive on cruise ships.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has held up cruise ship operations in U.S. waters since March 2020, although it has laid out guidelines for cruises to resume with conditional sailing certificates.
It notes: ‘CDC recommends that all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide, because the risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high.
‘It is especially important that people with an increased risk of severe illness avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises.
‘Cruise passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on cruise ships.’
The Caribbean is a popular destination for American customers.
So is Alaska, but the Canadian government has banned cruise ships carrying more than 100 passengers through February 2022, which will stop many ships from visiting Alaska this summer.
The ships accounted for most of Alaska’s 1.3 million visitors in 2019, before the pandemic.
Men wearing protective gear are seen near the cruise ship Diamond Princess, where 10 more people were tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan February 7, 2020