There has been some welcome news from Celebrity Cruises this week. During a webinar for the travel community with Dondra Ritzenthaler, the Senior Vice President of Sales for Celebrity Cruises, the cruise line announced several relaxed measures for the sailings onboard the vessels in the Caribbean, UK, and Greece.
The measures include relaxed measures for masks and going ashore, news on back-to-back cruises, and more. However, Ritzenthaler also announced Celebrity will only sail with vaccinated guests, which will need to show proof, or will need to show proof they cannot be vaccinated.
Bringing Relaxed Back to the Ships
The webinar saw some significant developments coming from Celebrity Cruises. The one that will have guests eager to sign up for a cruise on the Celebrity ships is that the line has now said masks are not needed inside or outside the ship, as long as guests can maintain a safe distance to others on board, and they are vaccinated.
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Rules for guests that are not vaccinated have also been relaxed, though, as the cruise line now says that guests only have to wear masks while in transit (i.e., from the room to the bar, restaurant, etc.), when guests are seated, they do not need to wear a mask, nor do guests need to wear a mask when they are outdoors.
The CDC’s announcement last week that masks should be worn at all times, even in between bites during meals, caused a stir but for vaccinated passengers that guidance was relaxed. The news from Celebrity will undoubtedly be welcome news for many and in line with CDC for vaccinated guests.
The second important announcement comes as Celebrity has now done away with the mandatory tours in ports of call for fully vaccinated guests. However, they should still follow local guidelines that may require otherwise. It means guests are no longer restricted in ports of call and can likely walk around town in the places ships visit.
Lastly, the cruise line is now also enabling guests to book back-to-back cruises onboard the ships. Which, due to the rules and regulations, was not possible before. Guests can now stay on board the ship for two or even more cruises as long as they pass a rapid antigen test.
Ready, Set, Sail
Charles Sylvia, the CLIA VP Industry & Trade Relations, joined the conversation in the webinar and made clear that the Ready Set Sail campaign has had an enormous impact. A few months ago, CLIA started the campaign and asked cruise fans to write to their representatives and push them to allow cruises to restart.
According to Charles Sylvia, the campaign has been a success:
“All the progress that we see in regards to the CDC, and the cruise lines having conversations with the CDC are a direct result of the Ready Set Sail campaign. All the people that have written or called, those that love to sail, all those that have reached out to congress, have resulted in the open lines of communication that we now have with the department of health and human services, and the CDC.”
Cruise Lines Will Make Their Own Rules, Safety First
Charles Sylvia also provided some insights on how the lawsuit against the CDC from Governor DeSantis and the mandate against a vaccination passport affect the cruise industry.
Sylvia believes the lawsuits have little effect on cruises and sailings happening in the near future or further down the road. Simply because the courts move too slowly to have any effect. On the vaccination mandate, Charles Sylvia said the following:
“Of course, Governor DeSantis is a proponent of cruises sailing from Florida. That situation will be sorted out. The headline message here is that the cruise industry will not be affected by this, solutions will be made. As the order is turned into protocols, solutions will be found. However, as soon as guests step onboard a ship, they are in international territory.”
The message there is clear. While the governor can make rules for shoreside, the cruise lines will make their own rules. Something reiterated by the Vice President of Sales for Celebrity Cruises:
“I’ll be honest, we’re going to do vaccinated guests no matter what. And the reason for that is that we want to be so smart, and so safe, and make sure that every guest that comes onboard knows there is herd immunity onboard the ships, because 95% of the ship has to be vaccinated.”
It looks like Celebrity Cruises will be working towards an all-vaccinated cruise experience, although there will be room for non-vaccinated individuals and minors.
The fact the cruise line is willing to take a step towards significant relaxation of the mask mandate and the shore excursion mandate is encouraging to say the least, for a return to normal as soon as possible.