The Celebrity Apex cruise ship has not been allowed to make her scheduled call at Nassau, Bahamas on Friday, January 7. It comes as the cruise line says that authorities denied the vessel due to an “emergency decision by local heal authorities.” Celebrity Cruises sent out a letter to guests on the current sailing informing them of the cancellation.
Celebrity Apex Spends Day at Sea After Nassau Cancellation
It’s another last-minute port cancellation for a cruise ship sailing in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. This time it is Celebrity Apex which has been denied entry to the Bahamas due to changes that country made in their entry requirements for cruise ships. The vessel will be spending a day at sea instead of guests spending the day ashore in Nassau.
The letter sent to guests on the current sailing from Captain Panagiotis Skylogiannis, “At this time, the Bahamas has made a change in their entry requirements for cruise ship visits due to the COVID-19 Omicron variant. As a result of this emergency decision by health authorities, we will be replacing our scheduled call to Nassau with a relaxing day at Sea. We will now continue sailing towards our final destination in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for disembarkation in Port Everglades this Saturday as scheduled.“
Which health requirements the cruise line is talking about is unclear at this point. The Bahamas recently updated their testing requirements, but these are only in place for visitors staying longer than 48 hours.
Celebrity Apex sails with a full vaccination mandate for passengers and crew members. Guests are also required to test negative before the cruise. Celebrity Cruises has not made any official statements on whether there are any active cases of COVID-19 onboard.
The Edge-class vessel is on a 5-day Bahamas Cruise sailing roundtrip from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale which departed on January 3. The vessel spent one day at sea and a day in Puerto Plata, in the Dominican Republic, and will slowly make her way back to Fort Lauderdale where she is expected to arrive on Saturday, January 8.
Guests who had shore excursions booked through the cruise line will be receiving a full refund to their onboard account. Guests with outside arrangements will need to contact their tour operators independently, although Celebrity says they will be helping by providing phone lines.
Worrying Trend or the Beginning of the End?
Many will see another cancellation by a port of call a worrying development for the industry. Indeed, just last week, MSC cruises were denied from their private island. And multiple ships have been denied entry to a multitude of ports of call in recent weeks.
Royal Caribbean, which is the parent company of Celebrity Cruises, issued a statement last week that the issues we see now are having a significant short-term effect but will likely not have much of a long-term effect.
Richard Fain, CEO of Royal Caribbean: “Omicron is having a big short-term impact on everyone, but many observers see this as a major step towards COVID-19 becoming endemic rather than epidemic. We don’t like to see even one case, but our experience is a fraction of the comparable statistics of virtually any other comparable location or industry.“
“We are constantly learning and adjusting as Omicron appears to be ushering in a new phase in the fight against COVID-19. We expect these factors to have a negative impact in the short term but are optimistic they will lead us to a more pervasive but less severe health environment.”
So while the cancellations are certainly affecting guest cruise vacations, according to Royal Caribbean, this issue will likely not persist. The next voyage for Celebrity Apex, which sails on January 8, will be a 7-day cruise to Belize, Mexico, and another scheduled call for Nassau.
Hopefully, by then, we will know what those updated health protocols are that prevented the vessel from calling in the Bahamas this week.