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Celebrity Cruises: The first large cruise ship to allow American passengers to sail more than a year after the pandemic halted the industry

(CNN) – The first large cruise ship open to North Americans since the industry stopped more than a year ago due to the coronavirus pandemic that set sail on Sunday.

Celebrity Millennium, part of the Celebrity Cruises line, owned by the Royal Caribbean Group, departs from Philipsburg, St. Maarten with paid passengers on Saturday at 10:30 p.m. Royal Caribbean does not operate cruises from March 2020.

“Today we sail again! This is such an important moment for our company, our industry and the Caribbean. That this day has finally arrived for our guests and our crew is really special ̵
1; apart from words, really,” Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and Chief CEO of Celebrity Cruises, said in a statement. “What an honor to be the first to say enthusiastically again, ‘Welcome aboard!’ “
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Passengers aboard the Celebrity Millennium before departing on Saturday.

Colleen McDaniel / Cruise Critic

The 7-day cruise from St. Maarten will include port stops in Barbados, Aruba and Curacao.

There are about 500 passengers on board, over 95% are fully vaccinated. Children who were not yet able to receive vaccinations had to take negative Covid-19 tests.

All members of the ship’s crew are also fully vaccinated.

“More than 80 percent of our passengers said they would prefer to sail on a ship with fully vaccinated people,” Colin McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, which is on board the Celebrity Millennium, told CNN. “It’s like traveling in a balloon.”

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Celebrity Millennium crew.

Colleen McDaniel / Cruise Critic

“This is the first large ship to sail in the Caribbean, so it feels quite special,” she added. “The energy and excitement here is so powerful. The crew is so eager to have people on board at the end. So many people clapped, you can say that it finally feels normal again and it makes everyone very happy.”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that in order for cruise lines to resume sailing in US waters, they must either complete “trial” cruises to reproduce real travel conditions or comply with the requirements. of the CDC for vaccination.

Celebrity cruises have chosen the latter, which includes submitting an attestation to the CDC stating that “95% of the crew (excluding any new quarantined crew) are fully vaccinated and submit to the CDC a clear and specific vaccination plan and schedule. to limit cruise ship voyages to 95% of passengers who have been confirmed by the cruise ship operator as fully vaccinated before the voyage. “

While the ship usually sails from a port in the United States, it sails from St. Marton because there are still a number of hoops that need to cross cruise lines with the CDC in order to sail.

However, Celebrity Edge is ready to be the first major cruise ship to leave the United States in June 2021. This re-inaugural Celebrity cruise will depart from the Port Everglades at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on June 26, with all crews and all passengers on board. age over 16 years, which must show evidence that they have been fully vaccinated before boarding.

And this regulation will not be repealed – after August 1, the vaccination rule will be extended to include passengers over 12 years of age.

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