Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) has outlined plans to restart sailing from US ports in July with mandatory vaccinations for crew and passengers.
The company, which owns Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, has set out its intentions to resume operations on 4 July in a letter to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The letter was sent after the CDC issued long-awaited technical guidance for lines on Friday (2 April) and said fully vaccinated citizens could travel safely within the US.
While the CDC noted that international travel poses additional risks, it said fully vaccinated travellers should follow recommendations and get tested after travelling – although they do not need to self-quarantine after arriving back in the US.
NCLH said its restart plan was “consistent” with the CDC’s updated guidance, adding how “vaccination efforts will be critical in the safe resumption of cruise ship travel”.
The company said by “requiring full and complete vaccinations” of guests and crew, it was exceeding the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order - which has halted lines from resuming operations since being imposed last year.
NCLH said it was “optimistic” the CDC would agree its vaccination requirements would eliminated the need for the order and requested its lifted, allowing ships to cruise from US ports from 4 July.
An initially reduced capacity would also be in place, NCLH explained, adding how it was “committed to protecting the health and safety of its guests, crew and communities visited” through the enhanced protocols developed via with its SailSAFE programme and experts working on its Healthy Sail Panel, co-created with Royal Caribbean Group.
NCLH president and chief executive Frank Del Rio said that through “a combination of 100% mandatory vaccinations for guests and crew and science-backed public health measures” it was possible for lines to “create a safe, ‘bubble-like’ environment” for those onboard.
He added: “Our robust and comprehensive SailSAFE health and safety programme extends well beyond the protocols of the travel, leisure and hospitality sectors, all of which have already reopened including hotels and resorts, casinos, restaurants, sporting venues, theme parks and airlines. With vaccine mandates and strict health and safety protocols in place, we believe we can provide a uniquely safe and healthy vacation experience.
“With our vessels back in operation, we will not only reinstate thousands of American jobs and meet the significant consumer demand for cruising, but also re-contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. economy as the industry resumes cruise operations.”