Celebrity Cruises became the first major cruise ship to set sail with U.S. passengers more than a year after the industry was anchored during COVID-19.
The Royal Caribbean Group-owned Celebrity Millennium line departed from Philipsburg, St. Marteen on Saturday, the first major cruise through the Caribbean since March 2020.
“Today, we sail, again! This is such a significant moment for our company, our industry and the Caribbean. That this day has finally arrived for our guests and our crew is truly special – beyond words, really,” Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, CEO of Celebrity Cruises, said in a statement. “I am so happy to have our crew back onboard doing what they love and providing amazing vacations and service to our guests.”
The Celebrity Millennium embarked on a seven-day cruise visiting Aruba, Barbados and Curacao with about 500 passengers and more than 95% of those fully vaccinated, including all crew members. Those traveling with children unable to get their shots were mandated to present a negative COVID-19 test. To be able to set sail, a cruise line must either submit to the CDC that 95% of crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated before sailing or conduct a simulated or “mock” voyage.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented strict health and safety guidelines for cruise lines to resume sailing in U.S. waters. Operators must conduct mock test cruises simulating the real excursion and demonstrating they can comply with requirements or demonstrate that 98% of crew members and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.
Celebrity was also cleared to sail its first voyage out of the U.S. at the end of the month, its luxury liner, the Celebrity Edge, will depart from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on June 26 for a seven-night cruise to the Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises announced last month.
Fox News’ Ann Schmidt contributed to this report
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