AAs major cruise lines prepare to depart U.S. ports this summer, they have yet to be as candid with unvaccinated passengers as they should be about how their cruise experience will compare to that. of their vaccinated cruise companions.
Royal Caribbean made headlines a week ago when it announced it would start from Florida in early July with ships where vaccinations would be recommended but not mandatory. “Customers are strongly recommended to leave fully immunized, if they are eligible,” the Royal Caribbean press release said. “Those who are not vaccinated or who cannot verify vaccination will need to undergo testing and follow other protocols, which will be announced at a later date.”
Michael Bayley, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, explained a little more on Facebook yesterday: “For Liberty, Odyssey, Allure, Symphony and Marine leaving Florida ports in July and August, we strongly recommend that all passengers eligible for vaccines be fully vaccinated. We anticipate that approximately 90 percent of our guests will be vaccinated. Clients who choose not to be vaccinated or who do not wish to verify the vaccination will be subject to additional tests and health protocols which will be their responsibility. “
So now unvaccinated passengers know they will incur additional expenses that vaccinated passengers will not. Now would be a good time for Royal Caribbean to clean up completely. Tell unvaccinated passengers that they will have a different experience than they expect. Talk to them about restrictions they might encounter at certain ports of call. And for the sake of everyone, tell them about face masks.
During a video call Tuesday, Dondra Ritzenthaler, senior vice president of sales, business support and service at Celebrity Cruises, explained summer cruise protocols to hundreds of travel consultants. She repeatedly said that on all Celebrity ships, 100% of the crew and 95% of the passengers would be vaccinated. She also highlighted how the experience of unvaccinated passengers would be different from that of their vaccinated cruise mates.
Ritzenthaler explained that on cruises longer than four nights returning to the United States, unvaccinated passengers and those who refuse to show proof of vaccination will need to take a Covid test before disembarking at an additional cost, administered by Celebrity Cruises. . This test will be given free of charge to children too young to be vaccinated and to adults unable to be vaccinated.
“And we’re doing it because we don’t mean you can’t come if you’re not vaccinated or if you don’t want to show the vaccination,” Ritzenthaler said. “But we want you to understand that there will be protocols and requirements in the tests that unvaccinated guests will do, that vaccinated guests will not do.”
What else? During his recap of American boating protocols, one of Ritzenthaler’s slides had the caption “While Onboard.” The first bullet reads: “Following CDC guidelines, masks will not be required for vaccinated guests and children under 15 years old.” The next one said, “Unvaccinated adult guests are required to wear a mask at all times, except when eating or drinking or in their cabin.” Ritzenthaler did not explain how the crew will track or identify which passengers are vaccinated and which are not.
Later in the question-and-answer portion of the call, Ritzenthaler was asked to clarify the mask policy. “Okay, the only people who will have to wear a mask are the people who are in that 5% who are not vaccinated, they will wear a mask but not everyone will wear a mask,” she said.
Another point of the presentation was: “Unvaccinated guests may not be allowed to disembark depending on local government restrictions. Ritzenthaler explained that some destinations – for example, Roatan – would only allow passengers to take tours organized by the cruise line, while other destinations – including Costa Maya, Cozumel, St. Thomas, St. Martin and Nassau – allow passengers to explore on their own if they wish.
“Now unvaccinated guests can be prevented from disembarking depending on what the local government says, but if you are vaccinated you can 100% leave on your own unless the government – like in this case Roatan – say you can go but you have to be on a pastor, ”said Ritzenthaler.
On the same call, Ritzenthaler described a workaround that would allow Celebrity Cruises to adhere to the CDC’s recommendation that 95% of a ship’s passengers should be vaccinated and also obey a Florida law that prohibits businesses in his state to check the vaccination status. of individuals.
Instead of checking the vaccination status of passengers at the port on the day of departure, Celebrity will manage the ratio of vaccinated / unvaccinated guests during the booking process, suggested Ritzenthaler. “Guys, the way we’re going to do this is we’re going to handle the navigation, right? She told the appeals officers. “We will make sure to open certain categories of cabins. We are closing certain categories of cabins. We will make sure that 95% of our guests are vaccinated. “
Some of the air came out of the cruise industry’s celebration balloons yesterday with news that two passengers tested positive for Covid-19 on the Celebrity Millennium, the first cruise ship to sail in North America since the start of the pandemic. A day earlier, two passengers had tested positive on the MSC Seaside as he crisscrossed the Mediterranean.
In a press release earlier this week, Carnival Cruise Line announced that the Carnival view and Broken will depart Galveston in July with all passengers vaccinated, despite a Texas law banning vaccine checks. The cruise line said it hoped to provide an update today on the Horizon CarnivalMiami’s planned reboot in July.
Despite Florida law, Norwegian Cruise Line is also insisting that it will require everyone on board its ships to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
“At least initially, 100% of our guests and crew will be vaccinated,” Norwegian CEO Frank Del Rio told TBEN in late May. “I think everyone should want to start sailing in the safest way possible.”