Cruises take to sea again against a backdrop of excitement and hesitation | Nation
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla .– Steve and Vicki Lake were among the first passengers in line on Saturday to board Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Edge cruise ship in Port Everglades.
âIt’s our 30th anniversary,â Steve said.
âWe wanted to do something special,â added Vicki.
So, the people of Atlanta have decided to take the first cruise to leave a US port with passengers in 15 months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Celebrity Edge’s seven-day cruise will stop at Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico, followed by Nassau, Bahamas. The ship will also operate seven-night cruises throughout the summer to St. Thomas, St. Martin and Nassau.
Celebrity Edge, which has a capacity of 2918, is expected to fire at 40% capacity. It says 99% of people on board – passengers and crew – are vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
âI love it,â Vicki said.
The other passengers love it too.
Davie residents Robert and Sandy Silver consider the vaccination rate “super important,” according to Sandy.
âWe are both vaccinated,â said Robert. “That’s why we decided to do the very first (cruise).”
Passengers on cruises departing from Florida are not required to be vaccinated. Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law that prohibits Florida businesses from requiring vaccinations. They are liable to a fine of $ 5,000 per incident for breaking this law.
Celebrity Cruises, which is owned by Royal Caribbean, requires passengers to be vaccinated on cruises outside of Florida.
Celebrity Cruises said all ships departing from Florida will have at least 95% of passengers and crew vaccinated, will have reduced capacity to allow for social distancing, and guests vaccinated will not have to carry of masks. Vaccinated passengers must present their vaccination card on the day of boarding and it must show that the passenger was fully vaccinated at least 14 days ago.
Celebrity Cruises said unvaccinated passengers must wear masks at all times, will have designated areas in restaurants, casinos and theaters, and will be subject to additional tests and protocols on board.
There is still some hesitation. Vicki Lake was asked if she was more excited, hesitant, or grateful about Saturday’s cruise.
âA bit of all of the above,â she said. “But really excited, like everyone else.”
The Celebrity Edge, under the direction of Captain Kate McCue, America’s first and only female captain, according to Celebrity Cruises, has special adaptations to keep people safe, such as staggered arrivals and departures, contactless transactions and coronavirus testing and surveillance, according to Brian Abel, senior vice president of hotel operations for Celebrity Cruises. It also has expanded medical facilities and an improved air circulation system, Abel said.
âI am happy that today marks the start of the recovery from this economic challenge,â said Richard Fain, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group.
Mark and Mindy Isaacs, who live in New Jersey, typically take two cruises a year. But they usually leave their country of origin. They decided to come to Florida for this cruise. They said they were going to restaurants at the house so the cruise should be safe.
âI think we’re doing absolutely fine,â Mindy said.