On Friday, a federal appeals court determined that cruise ships sailing from Florida ports will not be subject to CDC constraints as the agency appeals a previous ruling against it in a law suit brought by the state of Florida. It’s just the latest development in an ongoing saga that confuses the picture as to exactly what health protocols cruise lines need to have in place in order to sail from ports in Florida, where a state law prevents businesses—including cruise lines—from demanding customers present proofs of vaccination.
Despite all this, cruise departures from Florida ports are picking up pace. On Sunday, Celebrity Cruises’ latest ship, Celebrity Equinox, departed for the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale, capping an eight weeks that saw the Royal Caribbean group luxury brand bring eight ships back into service. Celebrity Cruises restarted the North American cruise industry this summer on June 5 with Celebrity Millennium sailing the Caribbean from St. Maarten and quickly followed on June 26 with Celebrity Edge, the first ship to sail from a U.S. port in more than a year.
“Bringing a large cruise ship back into service isn’t as easy as turning the ignition key. It’s a multi-dimensional process that involves moving and training crew, large-scale procurement, mechanical adjustments, destination outreach, port availability, sales and marketing and so much more,” said Brian Abel, Celebrity’s senior vice president of hotel operations. “I couldn’t be more proud of the Celebrity team’s accomplishments. We were ready and we successfully executed this herculean effort with finesse to welcome our guests back onboard for the Celebrity experience they know and love.”
How is Celebrity treading the tricky path between CDC guidelines and state-level bans on vaccine passports? Here’s part of what the brand says about its health protocols?
“All Celebrity ships will sail with a vaccinated crew. U.S. guests ages 16 and older must be fully vaccinated, and, as of August 1, 2021, all U.S. guests ages 12 and older must be fully vaccinated,” he said. “In Florida, vaccinations are strongly recommended.”