Cruise lines and Florida are on track for a standoff over COVID-19 vaccine requirements

carnival cruise
The Carnival Ecstasy docked at the Port of Jacksonville on March 27, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida.

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order banning businesses from requiring vaccines applies to cruise lines.
  • However, several cruise lines have already announced vaccine mandates.
  • DeSantis has been vocal about the cruise industry and previously said the state would sue the CDC to bring cruises back sooner.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida and cruise companies could be locked in a battle over vaccine requirements as the state puts a ban on vaccine passports while cruise lines continue to mandate the jabs for passengers and crew.

On April 2, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order banning vaccine passports and local businesses from requiring this proof of vaccination. This ban applies to cruise lines as well, DeSantis’ press secretary Cody McCloud told Insider in an email.

“The Governor’s Executive Order provides that businesses in Florida are prohibited from requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business,” McCloud told Insider in an email. “Therefore, the Executive Order prohibits cruise lines from requiring vaccine passports for their Florida operations.”

Read more: The Great GOP Migration: How South Florida became a shadow capital for Trump conservatives

However, many cruise lines have already announced some form of a vaccine requirement, whether it be for crew, guests, or both. This includes Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which recently unveiled a sweeping vaccine requirement for its Norwegian, Oceania, and Regent Seven Seas brand. Other cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, have held off on guest or crew requirements, instead opting to announce select “fully vaccinated” sailings.

However, major cruise lines – with the exception of those with a sweeping vaccine mandate – have withheld announcing a vaccine policy for future sailing series departing from US ports. So far, all of Royal Caribbean’s cruises operating under a vaccine order will be sailing out of international ports located in countries like Israel, Bermuda, and Cyprus.

DeSantis’ decision to prohibit cruise lines from requiring vaccines could prove to be yet another major issue for cruise companies, many of which have historically sailed out of Florida ports. But some experts have questioned DeSantis’ ability to impose such a ban upon cruise lines, according to a report from the Sun Sentinel.

This includes Jim Walker – an attorney based in South Florida with a specialization in maritime law – who told the Sun Sentinel that DeSantis may not have the jurisdiction needed to either prohibit cruise lines from enforcing a vaccine mandate or bring cruises back.

Regardless, it could be a while before we see any stand-off between the state and cruise lines interested in sailing out of Florida with a vaccine requirement.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to give cruise lines the green light to resume sailing and has shied away from enforcing an industry-wide vaccine mandate. As a result, no major cruise lines will be sailing from US ports in the near future, even if the ship is traveling with a vaccine mandate.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Former FDA commissioner says cruises could be a ‘lower risk endeavor’ compared to other travel

cruise ships
Cruise ships.

  • Cruises could be “lower risk” compared to travel options like international trips, Scott Gottlieb told CNBC.
  • Gottlieb is a former FDA commissioner and the co-chair of Norwegian and Royal Caribbean’s Health Sail Panel.
  • Cruise lines have implemented many health protocols that could turn ships into “protective bubbles.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Cruising could be a “lower risk” travel option compared to other alternatives, such as overseas vacations, Scott Gottlieb, the former US Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on April 9.

Many major cruise lines have created robust health and safety protocols to make the return of sailing safer amid COVID-19. This includes Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean Group, which partnered to establish the Healthy Sail Panel. The panel suggests ways for the industry to move ahead safely amid virus concerns and is currently being co-chaired by Gottlieb, a Pfizer board member.

The panel has already recommended 74 protocols, from face mask use to COVID-19 testing for guests and crew.

“As you start to implement all these public health recommendations that we’ve outlined, you start to create an environment that can be quite safe,” Gottlieb told CNBC. “You can create a protective bubble around the [cruise] experience.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic first began, virus outbreaks aboard cruise ships around the world left thousands of cruisers stranded or infected. Shortly after, the CDC put a no-sail order in place, which was later replaced by its recently updated conditional sailing order.

Read more: Carnival and Royal Caribbean salaries revealed: From $32,000 to $383,000, here’s how much the cruise industry’s power players pay some of their employees

To make the return of sailing safer, several cruise lines have implemented COVID-19 vaccine mandates. This includes Norwegian, which recently declared a vaccine requirement for both guests and crew.

Shortly after this announcement, Frank Del Rio, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ president and CEO, told CNBC’s Jim Cramer that cruise ships will “de facto become the safest place on earth” as more cruise companies continue to ramp up health protocols.

“I challenge you to tell me of another venue anywhere that has this kind of ironclad health and safety protocols in place,” Del Rio told CNBC’s Cramer.

Gottlieb has since echoed Del Rio’s sentiments regarding the safety of cruise ships.

“I believe you can create a safe bubble around that experience, especially when you’re comparing it to other vacation experiences where you can’t control the environment,” Gottlieb told CNBC.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Several cruise lines just moved their sailing restart dates. See when major cruise lines plan on operating again.

MSC Cruise
Major cruise lines such as MSC Cruises have already begun sailings in Europe.

  • Many major cruise lines will not be setting sail until, at the earliest, May (often as fully vaccinated cruises).
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends avoiding cruise trips during the pandemic.
  • These are the updated 2021 sailing plans for cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Disney Cruises.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Bad news for any eager cruisegoers: cruise lines are continuing to extend cruising suspensions into 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The cruising industry initially saw a quiet period after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted and extended its no-sail order as the coronavirus pandemic began surging in 2020. But after months of waiting, in October, the CDC replaced its mandatory sailing pause with a “framework for Conditional Sailing Order,” a list of rigorous requirements needed for cruise lines to continue operating again by November.

Despite this order, an update to it in April, and the impending debut of several cruise ships over the next few years, the return of cruising still remains in limbo. Presently, no major US cruises will be setting sail until May at the earliest, but many cruise lines are still continuing to push back their sail dates.

Read more: COVID-19 has created a once-in-a-lifetime crisis for Carnival and Royal Caribbean, but after surviving hijackings and shipwrecks, the industry looks unsinkable

Keep scrolling to see the updated sailing suspension dates for several major cruise lines:

Norwegian Cruises

norwegian epic cruise ship
Norwegian Cruises.

On a suspended sailings update on December 29, 2020, Norwegian hit the pause button on all of its cruises that were set to sail through March. However, on January 19, the cruise line pushed this sail date back one month through April.

Almost a month later, Norwegian canceled all of its cruises through May. But on March 16, the cruise line announced it would be suspending all trips through June 30, including cruises on its Oceania and Regent Seven Seas lines.

On April 6, Norwegian announced it would halt sailings on eight ships – the Norwegian Breakaway, Dawn, Escape, Getaway, Sky, Spirit, Star, and Sun – through August 31. Sailings on the Norwegian Epic and Pearl were also put on hold through September 1 and November 7, respectively.

However, sailings aboard the Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Jade, and Norwegian Gem are set to resume in July as fully vaccinated cruises in Europe and the Caribbean.

Princess Cruises

A fishing boat sails past the Princess Cruises' Ruby Princess cruise ship as it docks in Manila Bay during the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cavite city, Philippines, May 7, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess cruise ship docks in Manila Bay during the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cavite city

Princess Cruises originally paused its trips through March, according to a notice posted on November 20, 2020, but announced on January 6 that it would be extending this pause through May 14.

The cruise line had also paused all sailings through November 1 that were set to be longer than seven days going to and from US ports, and any trips sailing to and from Japan through June 25, according to the November notice.

“We continue to prepare our ships for our return to service and we are eager to see our guests back on board to create summertime memories,” Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises’ president, said in a statement.

However, on March 9, the cruise line again updated its suspensions list with different timelines for different cruises. For example, cruises from Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, and Rome have been halted through the end of June, while European cruises originally set to sail to and from Southhampton, England have been paused through September 25. You can view the updated sailing timelines on Princess Cruises’ website.

When the cruise line resumes sailing, several ships – including the Diamond Princess and the Grand Princess – will have Princess’ MedallionClass Experience. This “experience” includes new health protocols and contactless features.

Carnival Cruises

carnival cruise
Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Ecstasy cruise ship is docked at the Port of Jacksonville amid the coronavirus outbreak on March 27, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida.

A full list of suspended sailing dates per ship is available on Carnival’s website. In a January 6 news release, Carnival cruises announced it would resume sailing after March 31 with several ships remaining docked even further into the future.

“We are sorry to disappoint our guests, as we can see from our booking activity that there is clearly a pent-up demand for cruising on Carnival,” Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a statement on the news release.

However, 16 days later, Carnival updated this statement and hit the pause button on all trips through April 30. On February 24, the cruise line pushed its no-sail timeline even further back through May.

According to a press release posted on December 9, 2020, Carnival has set up dry docks for the Carnival Magic, Carnival Paradise, and Carnival Valor, therefore halting any of the ships’ embarkments through September 24, May 31, and September 11, respectively. However, on January 25, Carnival announced its plans to suspend these three ships even further until November.

The January 25 release also included announcements related to several other ships and trips. One notable sailing freeze in the update includes trips out of San Diego. Seasonal service trips and planned sailings through April 2023 out of San Diego have now been suspended, and seven of these sailings to Hawaii have been moved to Long Beach, California instead.

Read more: Carnival’s CEO told employees in an internal video that ‘a new sense of optimism’ in the cruising industry will let him end their 20% pay cuts

The upcoming inaugural Mardi Gras trip was also pushed back as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

On April 6, Carnival halted all sailings from US ports through June 30. Christine Duffy, president of Carnival, said in a press release that the cruise line may instead decide to resume sailing from ports outside of the US, a workaround other cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have decided to employ as well.

“We are asking that the cruise industry be treated on par with the approach being taken with other travel and tourism sectors, as well as US society at large,” Duffy said in the press release.

Royal Caribbean

Wonder of the Seas cruise ship Royal Caribbean
The Wonder of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean originally suspended its cruise trips through February 28, according to a December 17 update. However, on January 12, the cruise line pushed its no-sail date back even further through April 30. The only exceptions to this are its Quantum of the Seas ship in Singapore and Spectrum of the Seas ship in China.

Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Cruises line also halted any trips originally planned through April 30, according to an update on January 12. Several other Celebrity Cruises sailings were paused even further through October.

Less than a month later on March 9, Celebrity announced it would push this pause back through May.

Read more: Carnival and Royal Caribbean salaries revealed: From $32,000 to $383,000, here’s how much the cruise industry’s power players pay some of their employees

On January 13, Royal Caribbean’s Silversea Cruises released an updated list of sailing dates with the first trip embarking on April 1. However, the soonest sail date was later pushed back to May 1, according to a January 21 update.

About two months later on March 9, the mega cruise group announced extended sailing pauses for its Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Silversea, and Azamara lines.

Now, Royal Caribbean sailings will be put on hold through May 31, excluding its Quantum of the Seas and Odyssey of the Seas ships.

Quantum of the Seas’ Alaska trips from April 5 to October 14 have instead been put on hold “in order to allow additional time for our preparation,” the cruise line announced. Meanwhile, Odyssey of the Seas’ Rome sailings from May 9 to October 28 have also been suspended. The new ship will instead set sail from Israel from June to October for Israeli residents only.

Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas sailings in China beginning the end of April through May are also exempt from this pause.

Celebrity and Silversea’s cruises have also been suspended through May 31, while Azamara’s has been pushed back through June 30.

Holland America Line

holland america
Holland America.

Holland America originally paused all cruise trips through April 30, according to an update on January 6. All trips departing or arriving in Canada this year were also been canceled.

On March 9, the cruise line updated this no-sail order and extended it through June 30.

Read more: Vacationers already devote 35% of cruise trip budgets to onboard retail purchases – and experts say pandemic protocols will only make duty-free retail more pivotal

Disney Cruises

disney cruise
Disney Cruises.

Disney Cruises halted all trips through February 28, according to a travel updated posted on December 11, 2020. Cruises longer than seven nights have been suspended even further. One month later on January 12, Disney Cruises extended its no-sail date through March.

On January 27, Disney Cruises pushed this sailing freeze timeline through April, and then again through May in a February 24 announcement. All Disney Magic sailings in Europe through August 10 were then also canceled due to the “likelihood of international borders remaining closed for an extended period of time.”

On April 6, this timeline was set even further back with the suspension of Disney Dream, Fantasy, and Wonder sailings – all originally set to depart from the US – through June. The original Disney Magic cruises were also halted through September 18. The ship will instead sail as “staycation” cruises for UK residents this summer.

Like other cruise lines, Disney is “evaluating various options” for its Disney Wonder Alaska cruises with dockings in Canada.

See the full list of suspended Disney Cruises here.

MSC Cruises

MSC Magnifica cruise ship passes through the Saint Mark Basin in Venice, Italy June 9, 2019..JPG
MSC Magnifica cruise ship in Italy.

MSC released a list of cancellation dates per cruise ship, and the sail dates vary from the end of January to November. Trips on the MSC Armonia, for example, have been canceled through May 28, while the MSC Preziosa won’t be seeing any passengers until after May 31.

Ships like the MSC Fantasia won’t hit the seas until June 5.

P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises
P&O Cruises.

P&O previously announced it halted all trips through April. Now, trips on P&O’s Arcadia, Aurora, Azura, and Ventura ships have been paused through August, while its Britannia and Iona ship sailings have been put on hold through September.

Costa Cruises

Costa Cruises Costa Pacifica
Costa Cruises’ Costa Pacifica.

On March 22, Costa Cruises announced it would delay the return of its cruises until May due to coronavirus-related restrictions in certain European countries.

“Such measures do not allow the company to offer the best cruise vacations to its guests, especially for what concerns the experience ashore,” the cruise line noted in a press release.

Costa – a Carnival-owned brand that specializes in cruising around Europe – had previous planned to restart on March 27. As of April 6, the Costa Deliziosa, Firenze, Magica and Pacifica will all resume sailing either May 28 or 29.

Are you a cruise industry employee or have a cruise industry story to share? Contact this reporter at bchang@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Royal Caribbean just welcomed its newest ship, the Odyssey of the Seas – see its 10 coolest features

Royal Caribbean cruise ship Odyssey of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas.

  • Royal Caribbean just welcomed its latest cruise ship, the Odyssey of the Seas.
  • The ship will have many family-friendly amenities, including a skydiving simulator and bumper cars.
  • These are the ship’s coolest features, which guests will be able to experience this year.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Royal Caribbean just welcomed the Odyssey of the Seas, a new cruise ship that will begin “fully vaccinated” cruises from Israel this summer.

1616436251_20210318 090642
The Odyssey of the Seas.

This announcement comes after a year of bad news for cruise lines, including COVID-19 outbreaks at the beginning of the pandemic, an industry-wide pause throughout 2020 …

1614558427_image0017 passing autobahn
The Odyssey of the Seas.

… tumultuous responses to “fully vaccinated” sailings, and the CDC’s rejection of an earlier cruising return.

1617140303_Launch High SkyPad Architectural rt
The Odyssey of the Seas’ Sky Pad bungee trampoline.

The ship’s inaugural sailing was once set for May to October from Italy, but both the dates and location were changed to June to October from Israel.

1616438401_20210318 090519
The Odyssey of the Seas.

And unlike the previously canceled cruises aboard this new ship, these new Israel sailings will only be available to Israeli residents who’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19.

1614558420_200089500055 4785751 waiting at Gandersum lock.JPG
The Odyssey of the Seas.

Guests under 18-years-old who don’t have the vaccine will instead have to test negative for the virus.

1606590174_Odyssey of the Seas 141
The Odyssey of the Seas.

This cruise series will then bring its Israeli guests on three to seven-night trips around the Mediterranean.

1611598068_MW S713 1DH32397 (1)
The Odyssey of the Seas.

Wondering what you’ll do for seven nights aboard a ship?

1614558420_image01 waiting at Gandersum lock
The Odyssey of the Seas.

The 1,138-foot long, 135-foot wide cruise will offer several amenities that will keep its guests and their children busy.

1571926341_RCCL Odyssey CGI07 Playmakers 06 RET 1
The Odyssey of the Seas’ SeaPlex.

This includes a “Caribbean-inspired” pool deck with two pools and four whirlpools.

1571926278_RCCL Odyssey CGI16 PoolDeck 05 RET 1
The Odyssey of the Seas’ pool deck.

But if you or your children are looking for more active fun, head to the Splashaway Bay water park or the “SeaPlex” activity center.

1571926176_RCCL Odyssey CGI17 PoolDeckAerial 05 RET CROP 1
The Odyssey of the Seas’ pool deck.

The latter will be the “largest indoor active space at sea,” according to Royal Caribbean, and will include unique activities like bumper cars, virtual reality games, and laser tag.

1571926341_RCCL Odyssey CGI07 Playmakers 06 RET 1
The Odyssey of the Seas’ SeaPlex.

If you need a break from the kids, head to the Solarium. Here, guests over 16-years-old can hang out at the pools, relaxation areas, and a bar. The image below shows the Solarium on a different Royal Caribbean ship.

1558365071_SC19 SolariumR
The Solarium on the Spectrum of the Seas.

While the parents are relaxing, their children can partake in the Adventure Ocean program full of different games and activities.

Odyssey of the Seas' Adventure Ocean.
Odyssey of the Seas’ Adventure Ocean.

Meanwhile, the teenagers can instead head to the Social180 to game, lounge, and mingle.

Screen Shot 2021 04 02 at 4.54.03 PM
Odyssey of the Seas’ Social180.

But if the whole family is looking for some more adventurous activities, head up to the top deck for the ship’s observation area …

1617140310_Launch Medium NorthStar Architectural rt
The Odyssey of the Seas’ North Star observation area.

… virtual reality-powered SkyPad bungee trampoline, and both a skydiving and surfing simulator.

1571926176_RCCL Odyssey CGI17 PoolDeckAerial 05 RET CROP 1
The Odyssey of the Seas’ pool deck.

When it’s mealtime, guests can dine at Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar or Teppanyaki, both Royal Caribbean firsts for North America.

1571926398_RCCL Odyssey CGI10 Giovannis 04 RET 1
The Odyssey of the Seas’ Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar.

More interested in indoor entertainment? Go down to the Two70, which will showcase different performers and rotating TV screens to turn a lounge into an immersive theater.

Odyssey of the Seas' Two70.
Odyssey of the Seas’ Two70.

If you aren’t based in Israel but trips aboard the Odyssey of the Seas sound enticing, wait until November when the ship will head to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Royal Caribbean cruise ship Odyssey of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Florida threatened to sue the federal government over the idling of the cruise industry

Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday put forth new legislation aimed at protesters.

  • Florida’s governor said the state could sue the federal government if the CDC doesn’t soon allow the US cruise industry to restart.
  • The US cruise industry has remained idled even as coronavirus vaccinations and testing pick up steam.
  • US cruises are not expected to sail until May at the earliest.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and state Attorney General Ashley Moody said they would consider filing a lawsuit against the federal government over its ongoing restriction on the cruise industry.

During a roundtable discussion with cruise industry executives on Friday, Moody said the state was weighing its legal options against the Biden Administration and the US Centers for Disease Control for keeping the cruise industry idled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In October, the CDC announced a new framework for sailing that requires cruises to have onboard testing and carry out mock voyages and many other requirements before they are allowed to restart in US ports. The industry was shut down a year ago after several coronavirus outbreaks erupted on cruise ships.

“You can’t have an agency shutting down an entire industry based on outdated arbitrary capricious decisions and so we will take all legal action as necessary,” Moody said.

The roundtable discussion included CEOs from Norwegian, Carnival, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Disney Cruise Line, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

DeSantis, a Republican who reopened all businesses and eliminated fines for people refusing to wear masks as COVID-19 ripped through the state last year, said the cruise industry had been idled for too long.

“If you’re not going to be willing to greenlight this, then you need to explain why everywhere else in the world can do it,” DeSantis said during the discussion. “Is it okay for the government to just idle an industry for a year, with no end in sight? I mean, this was never legislated by anybody.”

The US cruise industry has remained idled even as vaccinations and testing pick up steam. Cruise lines in other countries have resumed trips and industry advocates say cruising doesn’t pose a greater risk of transmitting the coronavirus than flying.

A statement by the Florida governor’s office on Friday said the US government failed to provide relief funding to seaports “while airports and transit agencies have received assistance through relief packages.”

US cruises are not expected to sail until May at the earliest. Royal Caribbean Cruises President and CEO Michael Bayley called the situation”devastating,” according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Florida is home to some of the world’s busiest ports including Miami, Port Canaveral near Kennedy Space Center, and Port Everglades near Fort Lauderdale.

Through August 2020, Florida lost around $2.3 billion in wages and 49,500 jobs because of the cruise industry shut down due to the pandemic, according to a September 2020 report by the Federal Maritime Commission.

“We’re the most crippled by what they’re doing with this national cruise lockdown, and so we get liberated from that, you’re going to be able to see maybe tens of thousands, maybe even 100,000 more people going back to work,” DeSantis said.

The CDC did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

According to the Associated Press, some experts say it’s still too early for cruise ships to operate again because of the close quarters on the vessels and other potential issues.

The cargo and cruise operations at Florida’s Jacksonville seaport generate around 139,300 jobs in Florida and more than $31.1 billion in annual economic impact, said JAXPORT CEO Eric Green in a statement this month.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Royal Caribbean says boycott of the cruise line after it announced fully vaccinated cruises is based on a ‘misconception’

Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean.

  • Royal Caribbean and its Celebrity Cruises brand have announced five fully vaccinated summer cruises.
  • The announcement of these summer cruises has stirred up calls to boycott Royal Caribbean.
  • However, Royal Caribbean has not announced a sweeping vaccine mandate for all its future guests.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Throughout March, Royal Caribbean has announced a string of “fully vaccinated” cruises for this summer. While these vaccine mandates have delighted some eager travelers, they’ve also ignited calls from Twitter and Facebook users to boycott the cruise line.

However, these boycott demands have been based on a “misconception,” according to a Royal Caribbean spokesperson.

On March 19, Royal Caribbean International uploaded a Facebook post about its new seven-night summer cruises from the Bahamas aboard its Adventure of the Seas ship. These trips, set to sail from June to August, will be cruising with a vaccine mandate: all crew members and adult guests must be vaccinated against COVID-19, while passengers under 18-years-old must test negative for the virus.

“The vaccines are clearly a game-changer for all of us, and with the number of vaccinations and their impact growing rapidly, we believe starting with cruises for vaccinated adult guests and crew is the right choice,” Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said in the press release announcing the new sailings. “As we move forward, we expect this requirement and other measures will inevitably evolve over time.”

Shortly after the cruising giant announced these new “fully vaccinated” sailings on Facebook, the comment section was set alight. While some Facebook commenters praised the vaccine mandate, others voiced their concerns and announced a personal boycott of the cruise line.

“I’ll spend my vacation time and money elsewhere,” Facebook user Crysti Horne said in a comment.

Screen Shot 2021 03 26 at 12.38.50 PM
The comment section of Royal Caribbean’s March 19 Facebook post.

Other Facebook users like Jenny Mayer have called the vaccine mandate discriminatory.

rclboycott 3
The comment section of Royal Caribbean’s March 19 Facebook post.

A day after Royal Caribbean’s comment section spiraled into a vaccine debate, Simone Gold – a doctor, vocal COVID-19 vaccine critic, and attendee of the January Capitol insurrection – announced she would be boycotting Royal Caribbean as well.

The post has since been retweeted over 2,400 times and liked by over 8,500 Twitter users, and echoes the anti-vaccination sentiment other people on the social media site have been feeling relative to major cruise lines.

Read more: Carnival and Royal Caribbean salaries revealed: From $32,000 to $383,000, here’s how much the cruise industry’s power players pay some of their employees

Jennifer Lindquist, a former Royal Caribbean customer, doesn’t agree with any vaccine, face masks, and social distancing mandates, and told Insider “social distancing ruins the entire cruise experience,” in an interview over Facebook messenger.

“We will not be getting the vaccine anytime soon, if ever,” she said. “I do not agree with a company making it mandatory for their employees to be vaccinated with an experimental vaccine.”

However, many of these Facebook comments and tweets have seemingly been based on a glaring mistake: Royal Caribbean never implemented a company-wide COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all of its future guests.

Ironically, its Quantum of the Seas ship already resumed sailing in Singapore in December, without a vaccine mandate.

“The misconception is that all of the cruises will be vaccinated, and that decision has not been made yet,” a Royal Caribbean spokesperson told Insider in an interview. “If you look at the countries that are doing fully vaccinated cruises, it’s mandatory by the government. We want to set sail, and that’s part of the deal to cruise again.”

Royal Caribbean currently has several health protocols in place ahead of its major return to sailing. These include social distancing, mask-wearing, and robust testing and quarantining guidelines for crew members.

But in regards to vaccines, Royal Caribbean – including its Celebrity Cruises brand – has only announced five “fully vaccinated” summer cruises so far. While crew members are required to be vaccinated before sailings return, the cruise giant has not implemented a sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all its future guests.

“We’re following the science and medical advice, and we want to do what’s best for our passengers and crew and obviously the communities that we visit as well,” the Royal Caribbean spokesperson said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Royal Caribbean just announced more ‘fully vaccinated’ cruises this year, this time in the Mediterranean

Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas ship.
Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas ship.

  • Royal Caribbean just announced fully vaccinated seven-night cruises sailing from Cyprus.
  • The cruise series will sail around Cyprus and Greece from July through October.
  • Royal Caribbean has been announcing a string of summer cruises with COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Royal Caribbean just unveiled a new summer series of fully vaccinated cruises in the Mediterranean, only one day after it announced a different collection of vaccine-mandated sailings from Bermuda.

Vaccinated against COVID-19 and craving a warm summer escape aboard a cruise ship? Royal Caribbean’s newly announced seven-night Mediterranean cruises may be a good fit for you. From July 10 through October, the cruise line’s 13-deck Jewel of the Seas ship will bring guests from Limassol, Cyprus to different destinations around Cyprus and Greece, including Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini.

This will be Royal Caribbean’s first time sailing from Cyprus.

“We are delighted that Royal Caribbean will call Limassol its home port for the first time ever,” Savvas Perdios, Cyprus’ deputy minister of tourism, said in a press release. “This has been an ambition of ours for many years, and we are thrilled that, finally, this dream has come to fruition.”

Read more: Carnival and Royal Caribbean salaries revealed: From $32,000 to $383,000, here’s how much the cruise industry’s power players pay some of their employees

Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas ship.
Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas ship.

These new Mediterranean sailings will cruise with a vaccine mandate. This means all crew members and adult guests aboard the ship will have to be vaccinated against COVID-19, while passengers under 18-years-old will instead have to test negative for the virus. However, Royal Caribbean notes that these protocols may change “as they are evaluated on an ongoing basis.”

Besides this Mediterranean cruising announcement, Royal Caribbean has unveiled three different series of “fully vaccinated” cruises in March. This includes the Odyssey of the Seas sailings from Israel, Adventure of the Seas from the Bahamas, and Vision of the Seas from Bermuda. All of these cruises are set to sail this year, addressing the general pent-up demand for cruising and travel.

“The vaccines are clearly a game-changer for all of us, and with the number of vaccinations and their impact growing rapidly, we believe starting with cruises for vaccinated adult guests and crew is the right choice,” Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said in a March 19 press release. “As we move forward, we expect this requirement and other measures will inevitably evolve over time.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Royal Caribbean just announced ‘fully vaccinated’ cruises to the Bahamas and Mexico this summer

Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas ship
Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas ship.

  • Royal Caribbean just announced a new series of seven-night cruises to the Bahamas and Mexico.
  • The summer cruises will sail from Royal Caribbean’s new homeport in the Bahamas from June to August.
  • All adult guests and crew must be vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Royal Caribbean just announced a new collection of seven-night summer cruises to the Bahamas and Mexico, but don’t consider booking a spot unless you plan on being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The mega cruise line has recently been dabbling with vaccine mandates. In February, a Royal Caribbean spokesperson told Insider that it will expect to require its crew members to receive the vaccine before sailings return. And earlier this month, the company expanded on this requirement by announcing its first ‘fully vaccinated’ – crew and guests – cruises setting sail from Israel.

Now, Royal Caribbean is enforcing this same protocol on its newly announced summer sailings collection: all adult passengers must be vaccinated against COVID-19, while guests under 18-years-old must test negative for the virus.

“The vaccines are clearly a game changer for all of us, and with the number of vaccinations and their impact growing rapidly, we believe starting with cruises for vaccinated adult guests and crew is the right choice,” Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said in the press release. “As we move forward, we expect this requirement and other measures will inevitably evolve over time.”

Read more: Carnival and Royal Caribbean salaries revealed: From $32,000 to $383,000, here’s how much the cruise industry’s power players pay some of their employees

Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas ship
Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas ship.

This new series of ‘fully vaccinated’ trips will sail on the Adventure of the Seas ship beginning June 12 from the cruise line’s new homeport in Nassau, Bahamas. The cruise will then hit islands like the Grand Bahama, Cozumel, Mexico, and Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at CocoCay island. The latter is filled with hot weather amenities like a water park, beach club, and freshwater lagoon, all of which will be operated by a vaccinated crew.

“I am especially pleased that Royal Caribbean … selected the Bahamas as a homeport when sailing resumes,” Hubert Minnis, prime minister of The Bahamas, said in the press release. “Cruising is a vital part of The Bahamas’ economy and having Royal Caribbean and their guests return to our shores will contribute greatly to restoring and reactivating tourism.”

Royal Caribbean's Perfect Day at CocoCay island
Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at CocoCay island.

Guests will also have to adhere to the country’s travel requirements, which include presenting a negative PCR test before traveling and testing again after arriving.

Royal Caribbean is just one of several cruise lines that have made COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for guests, crew, or both. Most recently on Wednesday, P&O cruises – owned by Carnival Corp – similarly announced a summertime cruise collection that will sail along the UK coast, available only to UK residents who’ve been vaccinated.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Royal Caribbean has sold its Azamara brand including 4 ships for $201 million as the company continues to push back 2021 sail dates

Azamara Question in 2017.
An Azamara ship.

Royal Caribbean has sold its Azamara cruise line for $201 million while cruises in the US remain docked during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company announced Friday.

Sycamore Partners, the private equity firm purchasing Azamara in cash, now owns the cruising brand and its fleet of four ships, including one that was just acquired. Carol Cabezas, Azamara’s COO, will serve as president of the cruise line, according to a press release from January when the agreement was first announced.

“Azamara remains a strong brand with its own tremendous potential for growth,” Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group, said in a statement in January.

Read more: COVID-19 has created a once-in-a-lifetime crisis for Carnival and Royal Caribbean, but after surviving hijackings and shipwrecks, the industry looks unsinkable

The ownership change also results in a $170 million non-cash impairment charge. According to Royal Caribbean, this Azamara sale won’t “materially impact” the cruise company’s financial outcomes.

Unsurprisingly, recent months haven’t exactly been smooth sailing for Royal Caribbean. In December, Royal Caribbean announced it had sold its Empress and Majesty of the Seas cruise ships. Just several months prior, the cruise company reported it had lost $1.3 billion in its third quarter, the Miami Herald reported.

This Azamara announcement and Royal Caribbean’s difficulties are only some of the shakeups in the long list of cruise industry disruptions that have happened in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. From stranded crew members to refund issues to a “wasted year,” things have been looking a bit bleak for cruise companies around the world.

However, according to Royal Caribbean, this latest deal will allow the mega cruise company to “focus on expanding” its Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Silversea Cruises brands.

Read more: Carnival and Royal Caribbean salaries revealed: From $32,000 to $383,000, here’s how much the cruise industry’s power players pay some of their employees

The sail date for these cruise lines, and other cruises around the US, still remain to be seen as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on.

Are you a cruise industry employee or have a cruise industry story to share? Contact this reporter at bchang@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Several cruise trips have already been cancelled this year. See when major cruise lines plan on operating again.

MSC Cruise
Major cruise lines such as MSC Cruises have already begun sailings in Europe.

  • Many major US cruise line will not be setting sail around the country until, at the earliest, May.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends avoiding cruise trips during the pandemic.
  • These are the updated 2021 sailing plans for cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Disney Cruises.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Bad news for any eager cruisegoers: cruise lines are continuing to extend cruising suspensions into 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. 

The cruising industry initially saw a quiet period after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted and extended its no-sail order as the coronavirus pandemic began surging in 2020. But after months of waiting, in October, the CDC replaced its mandatory sailing pause with a “framework for Conditional Sailing Order,” a list of rigorous requirements needed for cruise lines to continue operating again. 

Despite this order, and the impending debut of several cruise ships over the next few years, the return of cruising still remains in limbo. Presently, no major US cruises will be setting sail until May at the earliest, but many cruise lines are now continuing to push back their sail dates as the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge around the US.

Read more: COVID-19 has created a once-in-a-lifetime crisis for Carnival and Royal Caribbean, but after surviving hijackings and shipwrecks, the industry looks unsinkable

Keep scrolling to see the updated sailing suspension dates for several major cruise lines:

Norwegian Cruises

norwegian epic cruise ship
Norwegian Cruises.

On a suspended sailings update on December 29, 2020, Norwegian hit the pause button on all of its cruises that were set to sail through March. However, on January 19, the cruise line pushed this sail date back one month through April.

Almost a month later, Norwegian canceled all of its cruises through May 2021.

Princess Cruises

A fishing boat sails past the Princess Cruises' Ruby Princess cruise ship as it docks in Manila Bay during the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cavite city, Philippines, May 7, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess cruise ship docks in Manila Bay during the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cavite city

Princess Cruises originally paused its trips through March, according to a notice posted on November 20, 2020. However, on January 6, the cruise line extended this timeline, announcing it would halt further sailings through May 14.

The Princess Cruises has also paused all sailings through November 1 that were set to be longer than seven days going to and from US ports, and any trips sailing to and from Japan through June 25, according to the November notice.

“We continue to prepare our ships for our return to service and we are eager to see our guests back on board to create summertime memories,” Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises’ president, said in a statement.

When the cruise line resume sailing, several ships – including the Diamond Princess and the Grand Princess – will have Princess’ MedallionClass Experience. This “experience” includes new health protocols and contactless features, to name a few details.

Carnival Cruises

carnival cruise
Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Ecstasy cruise ship is docked at the Port of Jacksonville amid the coronavirus outbreak on March 27, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida.

A full list of suspended sailing dates per ship is available on Carnival’s website. In a January 6 news release, Carnival cruises announced it would resume sailing after March 31 with several ships remaining docked even further into the future.

“We are sorry to disappoint our guests, as we can see from our booking activity that there is clearly a pent-up demand for cruising on Carnival,” Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a statement on the news release.

However, 16 days later, Carnival updated this statement and hit the pause button on all trips through April 30. On February 24, the cruise line pushed its no-sail timeline even further back through May.

According to a press release posted on December 9, 2020, Carnival has set up dry docks for the Carnival Magic, Carnival Paradise, and Carnival Valor, therefore halting any of the ships’ embarkments through September 24, May 31, and September 11, respectively. However, on January 25, Carnival announced its plans to suspend these three ships even further until November.

The January 25 release also included announcements related to several other ships and trips. One notable sailing freeze in the update includes trips out of San Diego. Seasonal service trips and planned sailings through April 2023 out of San Diego have now been suspended, and seven of these sailings to Hawaii have been moved to Long Beach, California instead. 

Read more: Carnival’s CEO told employees in an internal video that ‘a new sense of optimism’ in the cruising industry will let him end their 20% pay cuts

The upcoming inaugural Mardi Gras trip was also pushed back as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Royal Caribbean

Wonder of the Seas cruise ship Royal Caribbean
The Wonder of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean originally suspended its cruise trips through February 28, according to a December 17 update. However, on January 12, the cruise line pushed its no-sail date back even further through April 30. The only exceptions to this are its Quantum of the Seas ship in Singapore and Spectrum of the Seas ship in China.

Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Cruises line has also halted any trips originally planned through April 30, according to an update on January 12. Several other Celebrity Cruises sailings have been paused even further through October.

Read more: Carnival and Royal Caribbean salaries revealed: From $32,000 to $383,000, here’s how much the cruise industry’s power players pay some of their employees

On January 13, Royal Caribbean’s Silversea Cruises released an updated list of sailing dates with the first trip embarking on April 1. However the soonest sail date was later pushed back to May 1, according to a January 21 update.

Celebrity Cruises

celebrity cruises apex
Celebrity Cruises.

Celebrity Cruises originally suspended all trips through February 28, and South America sailings with the winter 2021 program through April 7, according to a travel alert posted on December 2.

However, on January 12, Celebrity updated this no-sail date by pushing it through April 30.

Holland America Line

holland america
Holland America.

Holland America will be pausing all cruise trips through April 30, according to an update on January 6. Alaska cruises originally set to depart through mid-May have also been canceled, although some will be halted even further into June.

Several international trips – specifically ones in Canada and the Mediterranean – will be frozen even longer with a pause extension through August for select trips. You can find the pause timeline on Holland America’s website.

Read more: Vacationers already devote 35% of cruise trip budgets to onboard retail purchases – and experts say pandemic protocols will only make duty-free retail more pivotal

Disney Cruises

disney cruise
Disney Cruises.

Disney Cruises halted all trips through February 28, according to a travel updated posted on December 11, 2020. Cruises longer than seven nights have been suspended even further. One month later on January 12, Disney Cruises extended its no-sail date through March.

On January 27, Disney Cruises extended this order through April. Certain Disney cruises once set for May have also been suspended.

See the full list of suspended Disney Cruises here.

MSC Cruises

MSC Magnifica cruise ship passes through the Saint Mark Basin in Venice, Italy June 9, 2019..JPG
MSC Magnifica cruise ship in Italy.

MSC released a list of cancellation dates per cruise ship, and the sail dates vary from the end of January to November. Trips on the MSC Armonia, for example, have been canceled through March 31, while the MSC Bellissima won’t have any passengers through November 22.

Ships like the MSC Fantasia won’t hit the seas until April 4. 

P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises
P&O Cruises.

P&O has halted all trips through April. 

Are you a cruise industry employee or have a cruise industry story to share? Contact this reporter at bchang@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider