The drive to get cruising as soon as possible reached top gear this week as several cruise lines and ports started with vaccination drives for cruise ship crew members.
So far, Royal Caribbean and MSC cruise have committed to 100% vaccination for crew members, while crew onboard Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze will be given the vaccine in the Port of Galveston.
Much of this has to do with the CDC requirement that 98% of crew members and 95% of guests onboard should be vaccinated if the cruise lines want an expedited return to cruising.
Royal Caribbean Committed
In February of this year, Royal Caribbean committed itself to a 100% vaccination grade of crew members onboard its ships. President and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Michael Bayley understands the need for vaccinations more than anyone. He said the following this week:
“Our constructive discussions continue day by day with the CDC. It is going to be extremely important for our crew to be vaccinated. We are working to help make this possible and have been assured vaccine availability will significantly improve in the coming weeks and months globally. I encourage all crew to get vaccinated at home if possible and to be guided by their national health authority.”
The cruise line is going full steam ahead as May 2 saw crew members onboard Explorer of the Seas getting their shots, while May 3 will see both Celebrity Equinox and Liberty of the Seas crew members receiving their shots which will help them receive guests once again.
MSC Cruises Vaccinating All Crew
Swiss-based cruise line MSC has also started with its vaccination programs. MSC Cruises have launched a fleet-wide vaccination program against COVID-19 for its crew members.
Yesterday, the MSC Bellissima crew completed their vaccinations as part of the roll-out process. During this initial phase, MSC Cruises will prioritize employees of its ten ships scheduled to sail this summer in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe.
Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises:
“As our ships prepare to welcome more and more guests over the coming weeks and months, we are pleased to announce the start of a comprehensive plan of vaccinations for all of our crew. Our huge vaccination program for all of our crew further demonstrates our commitment to their wellbeing, of our guests and of the communities that our fleet of ships will visit in the months ahead.”
Those who have plans to restart in the Caribbean and others that are getting ready to restart will all be part of the vaccination program. The crew of MSC Virtuosa will be immunized ahead of her maiden voyage from Southampton around the UK on May 20.
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MSC’s vaccination program has been designed and implemented with several national government authorities, destinations, and the private sector.
While it will be preferable for crew members to be vaccinated in their home countries, the fact of the matter is that the vaccination programs in most countries are far behind that in the US. To this end, three ports in the United States have pledged and already showed their full support towards vaccinating crew members.
Galveston Wharves, Port Miami, and Port Canaveral Sharing Resources
The major cruise ports in the United States have shown their commitment to a restart of cruising. Port Canaveral became the first US port to coordinate COVID-19 vaccine distribution to cruise ship crew members last week to advance a possible return to cruising in July.
There can be up to 1,000 COVID-19 vaccination shots administered per day to crew members and shore-side support staff, which is in line with guidelines issued this week by the Center for Disease Control.
Port Miami Started May 1 with crew vaccinations, while The Port of Galveston announced it would be working with Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) to start vaccinations for 350 crew members on board those ships. These vaccinations are supposed to start on May 3 and May 4.
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With the support the cruise lines are receiving from the various ports, they are well underway to reach the 98% grade the CDC has demanded of the cruise lines. It looks then that the timeline for a restart of cruising mid-July is becoming more and more likely.