Cruise Line Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement For All Crew And Customers

Although many industries were brought to a standstill during the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hammer was brought down especially hard on cruise lines.

And as expressed in Nature, the decision to shut down cruises was likely influenced by the fact that the Diamond Princess ship was the site of 700 infections. At one point, this made it the biggest hotbed for the coronavirus outside of China.

And the close quarters of cruises as well as their popularity among more vulnerable older adults proved to create the perfect storm for COVID-19 outbreaks, as at least 25 other ships would have issues of their own.

At the moment, it's unclear exactly when the U.S. government will allow cruises to start up again but it seems many lines are doing their part to make it happen as quickly as possible.

On March 30, U.S.-based company Windstar Cruises announced its plans to restart cruises in June.

According to The Miami Herald, the line has six ships capable of accommodating between 148 and 342 passengers and has their sights set on resuming operations in the Caribbean and Mediterranean regions.

However, they also know that there's no way they'll be cleared to do so if their crews aren't vaccinated.

So the line is requiring all crew members to receive the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to them and is adopting a similar policy when it comes to future passengers.

As the line's president Christopher Prelog said in a statement, "Vaccination is another layer of safety for all of us, and it’s the responsible course of action as our yachts resume cruising and our guests travel the world."

What this functionally means is that guests will have to provide proof that they're fully vaccinated.

As Fox 8 reported, the final round of their vaccination will also need to have taken place at least 14 days before boarding the ship.

Furthermore, embarkation will depend on a negative COVID-19 test result but Windstar Cruises staff will administer antigen tests free of charge prior to boarding.

Not all cruise lines have been as specific in their policy updates, but many others are announcing similar requirements as Windstar Cruises.

As The Miami Herald reported, both Virgin Voyages and Crystal Cruises will now require vaccinations from passengers and crew members.

The Royal Caribbean Group — which is also planning to restart cruises in June — has a similar policy in place for crew members, but is specifically requiring passengers over the age of 18 to be vaccinated.

All of these cruise lines are now subject to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention's "conditional sail order."

According to Fox 7, the CDC now has cruise lines in the second phase of this order, which involves trial voyages meant to let ship crews and port personnel practice new COVID-19 operating procedures before they welcome passengers again.

This phase also includes instructions on reporting coronavirus case numbers, regular testing for crew members, and vaccinating crew and port workers.

As for when cruises will be cleared to start again, the CDC said that depends on how many Americans receive their vaccines.

h/t: The Miami Herald

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