Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sky ship. Alan Diaz/Associated Press
Norwegian Cruise Line and its Regent Seven Seas Cruises brand will be asking all of its crew members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine prior to boarding, the cruise companies’ spokespeople told Insider in an email statement.
It’s just the latest sign that cruise sailings won’t be departing any time soon.
Cruise ships first gained their reputation of being coronavirus hotspots in February 2020 after Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess left thousands of passengers stuck and hundreds infected with the virus. Shortly after, dozens of cruise ships around the world started facing coronavirus-related disruptions, leaving ships and its passengers stranded, infected, or dead.
Following this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced – and later extended – its no-sail order as COVID-19 continued to surge across the US. And after months of waiting, in October 2020, the CDC replaced its pause button on all sailing trips with the “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order,” a list of strict protocols needed for cruise lines to continue sailing again.
Despite this new CDC order, and the impending unveiling of several highly anticipated cruise ships, the return of cruising still remains unknown. As of now, no major US cruises will be embarking until May with the caveat that cruise lines are constantly extending this suspension timeline.
However, one glimmer of hope shines at the end of the no-sail tunnel: the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are exploring all options regarding vaccinations for guests and crew and it is our intention that all crew members be vaccinated before boarding our vessels to begin their duties, subject to availability of the vaccine,” Norwegian and Regent Seven Seas’ statements read. “We will continue to partner with global and domestic authorities and the Healthy Sail Panel, our team of leading expert advisors, to explore all options necessary to protect guests, crew and the communities visited.”
Read more: For cruise lines, ‘2020 is a wasted year.’ The CEO of Norwegian Cruise lays out when the industry could make money again.
Norwegian’s other brand, Oceania, did not immediately respond to a comment asking if it will be taking the same crew member vaccination requirement approach.
Norwegian isn’t the only cruise line taking viable action as vaccine rollout continues forward. UK cruise company Saga – which targets passengers that are at least 50-years-old – announced it would be requiring all passengers to receive the vaccine two weeks before boarding, a spokesperson said on Thursday.
Several other cruising companies – such as Carnival and its Holland America line – are “reviewing” different vaccines, but have not announced any decisions regarding mandatory vaccinations for its passengers, according to emails sent to Insider from Carnival and Holland America.
Even with the news of a vaccine, as of now, some experts don’t have high hopes for the quick resumption of cruising. According to a note obtained by Barron’s, Patrick Scholes, an analyst at Truist Securities, believes July may be the best time for cruises to resume, although later in 2021 is more promising.
However, the full-fledged return of cruising still remains to be seen.
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