Cruises could resume from US ports if majority vaccinated, notes CDC

As cruise companies prepare to set sail from The Bahamas, some a little more than a month from now, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said cruising from US ports could resume this July if cruise companies agree to the majority of their passengers being vaccinated.

A letter from a top CDC official to the cruise industry, which has been widely reported on by US news outlets, said if cruise lines can produce proper documentation and ensure that 95 percent of passengers and 98 percent of crew members are vaccinated, then cruising from US ports could resume as early as mid-July.

During a Royal Caribbean Cruises first-quarter business update and financials call yesterday, its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard Fain said his cruise company was encouraged by the latest news.

“We are looking forward to resuming operations out of various ports around the world in the coming months. In addition, we have had very constructive dialogues with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in recent weeks about resuming cruising in the US in a safe and healthy manner,” he said.

“Last night, the CDC notified us of some clarifications and amplifications of their conditional sail order, which addressed uncertainties and concerns we had raised. They have dealt with many of these items in a constructive manner, that takes into account recent advances in vaccines and medical science. Although this is only part of a very complex process, it encourages us that we now see a pathway to a healthy and achievable return to service, hopefully in time for an Alaskan season.”

The Bahamas is considered a significant player in the cruise industry as the top cruise ports in the United States, all in Florida, call on ports in this country. 

Royal Caribbean plans to resume sailing from The Bahamas as its new home port, beginning in approximately six weeks on June 12.

The cruise line will sail from Nassau’s cruise port to Grand Bahama, its private island on CocoCay and then onto Cozumel, Mexico before heading back to Nassau.

The move was heralded by the government as being the boost to tourism the country desperately needs, as cruise passengers would have to fly into the country and likely book room nights at local hotels ahead of their departure.

The announcement from the CDC comes as Royal Caribbean announced that approximately 75 percent of bookings made for 2021 are new and 25 percent are due to the redemption of future cruise credits (FCCs) and the “Lift & Shift” program.

“Booking activity for the second half of 2021 is aligned with the company’s anticipated resumption of cruising. Pricing on these bookings is higher than 2019 both including and excluding the dilutive impact of future cruise credits,” the company stated in its first quarter 2021 financial report.

“Cumulative advance bookings for the first half of 2022 are within historical ranges and at higher prices when compared to 2019. This was achieved with minimal sales and marketing spend, which the company believes highlights a strong long-term demand for cruising.”

Royal Caribbean has said that it will sail with only vaccinated passengers and those under 18 who test negative for COVID-19, adding that its ship’s crew will be vaccinated.

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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