Unlocking the World

Cruise ship gets approval to set sail from the US in June

Lilit MarcusUpdated 27th May 2021
Cruise ship Celebrity Edge seen at Piraeus Port.
(CNN) — Celebrity Edge is poised to be the first major cruise ship to sail from the United States in over a year as Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease in the country.
The ship, part of the Celebrity Cruises line owned by Royal Caribbean Group, has been cleared to sail from Fort Lauderdale with paying passengers in June 2021.
"After months of working with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other government officials, our Healthy Sail Panel and industry partners, we can again offer cruise lovers the chance to enjoy the wonders of cruising. We are truly thankful to reach this special milestone," Richard D. Fain, Royal Caribbean Group chairman and CEO, said in a press statement.
The CDC states that for cruise lines to recommence sailing in US waters, they must either complete "trial" cruises to replicate real-world cruising conditions, or comply with the CDC vaccination requirements.
Celebrity Cruises has opted for the latter, which involves submitting an attestation to the CDC stating "that 95% of crew (excluding any newly embarking crew in quarantine) are fully vaccinated and submit to CDC a clear and specific vaccination plan and timeline to limit cruise ship sailings to 95% of passengers who have been verified by the cruise ship operator as fully vaccinated prior to sailing."
Royal Caribbean, Celebrity's sister company, recently announced plans to run its first trial cruise with volunteers in June.
Celebrity Edge is set to be the first big ship to set sail with paying passengers.
This re-inaugural Celebrity cruise will depart from Port Everglades on June 26, with all crew and all passengers over the age of 16 required to show proof they have been fully vaccinated before boarding. And that regulation won't be going away -- after August 1, the vaccination rule will expand to include travelers over the age of 12.
The ship can hold nearly 3,000 guests. The cruise's full itinerary for its landmark June sailing has not yet been announced.
Celebrity Edge made its debut in 2018 and cost a hefty $1 billion to build and outfit.
The first cruise ship ever to be designed using 3-D technology, its revolutionary "endoskeleton" design -- where most of the ship's mechanical features are along its spine, opening up the outside parts to more light and visibility -- was a new look in the industry.
The cruise industry has been heavily hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The Celebrity Edge's last cruise was completed in March 2020 and had an all-female crew in honor of International Women's Day.
Captain Kate McCue, who pilots the ship for much of the year, found herself remaining on board with her team for nearly seven months before being cleared to go home.
"It was important for me to stay as long as I could to make sure that the 1,350 crew members that we had on Celebrity Edge -- and all of the crew members that we had in our fleet in the Caribbean -- that we could get off, did get off," she told CNN Travel about the experience.
The United States is not the first country to re-launch cruise travel. Most recently, MSC Cruises launched several short "staycation" itineraries in and around the UK earlier this month.