Florida’s cruise industry has been in the middle of legal battles and a resurgence in COVID cases in Florida, but the cruises have resumed for some cruise lines out of Florida.
Royal Caribbean launched a test voyage, and four of the passengers, all of which are vaccinated, have tested positive for COVID. After quarantining and tested negative, they were allowed to disembark in Freeport, Bahamas.
Elisa Shen, associate vice president for onboard revenues, said she was excited to return to operating their cruise lines.
“We’ve worked so hard on so many protocols, that I really wanted to get out there and test out how does it actually pan out,” Shen said.
Many have criticized Florida continuing to resume cruise operations requiring no pandemic protocol, namely the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has been in a legal fight with the State of Florida and Governor Ron DeSantis over the CDC issuing a requirement for cruises to have passengers show vaccination status as a requirement for boarding.
DeSantis has responded by saying they will work to get the proof-of-vaccination requirement removed.
“We are absolutely going to pursue getting the stay removed, either at the full 11th Circuit or at the U.S. Supreme Court. I think probably to the full 11th Circuit en banc,” DeSantis said.
Other states have successfully begun embarking on cruises, including the Majestic Princess cruise ship which sailed to Alaska from Seattle. However, Princess cruises will be requiring vaccines for patrons to board.
Princess will be sailing out of Ft. Lauderdale, San Francisco, and Los Angeles for the rest of 2021.
In order to cruise out of Florida, Crystal Cruises has announced they will not be adhering to the CDC’s “conditional sail order,” saying the technical guidelines are not binding, but simply recommendations. Crystal will be following CDC recommendations with a 100 percent vaccinated crew, but will not require passengers to quarantine for 14 days in order to embark.
“Crystal appreciates and respects CDC guidance and recommendations and respects Florida law and the recent decision,” Crystal said. “The company intends to meet or exceed the CDC recommendations including 100% vaccinated crew and capacity controlled unvaccinated guests with additional requirements and restrictions. Crystal Serenity is currently sailing in the Bahamas with extraordinary Crystal Clean Plus guest safety protocols.”
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