The upscale, American cruise line updated its "US Travel Requirements" webpage on Thursday to reflect the Sunshine State’s shifting legal landscape.
"For Sailings from Florida: Guests over 16 years old (over 12 for any sailing on or after August 1st) who decline or are unable to show proof of vaccination at boarding will be treated as unvaccinated and subject to additional protocols, restrictions, and costs for COVID-19 testing," Celebrity’s health protocols section reads.
Prior to the cruise line’s travel update, Celebrity Cruises, its parent company Royal Caribbean and many of the company’s competitors stated passengers age 16 and older had to be fully vaccinated two weeks before a ship’s departure in order to be allowed on board.
These mandatory proof of vaccination policies were originally put in place to comply with the conditional sailing guidelines that were set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The national health agency had lifted its no-sail order in October 2020 – eight months after the global coronavirus pandemic began.
Fast-forward to 15 months since the pandemic’s start and cruise lines are still trying to finalize health and safety procedures that will help the multibillion-dollar industry get back on track, including mandatory face masks, coronavirus testing and trial voyages under CDC evaluation. Additionally, the CDC’s conditional order required at least 95% of passengers be vaccinated for COVID-19 to approve sailing.
However, the vaccine mandate was challenged by the state of Florida, a state where many cruise lines set sail. On June 18, U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday ruled in favor of a preliminary injunction that will put an end to the CDC’s conditional sailing order on July 18.
"This order finds that Florida is highly likely to prevail on the merits of the claim that CDC’s conditional sailing order and the implementing orders exceed the authority delegated to the CDC," Merryday wrote in his ruling on Friday, according to the Associated Press.
The preliminary legal decision was celebrated by Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been vocal about his opposition to vaccine passports.
Representatives at Celebrity Cruises did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment.
|ROYAL CARIBBEAN GROUP
"For cruises departing from Florida, while we remain committed to sailing with 95% vaccinated guests, we cannot require all guests to be vaccinated," a spokesperson for Celebrity Cruises told FOX Business via email. "Here, unvaccinated guests will be subject to additional Covid testing and onboard protocols, including wearing masks at all times and enjoying designated areas in common spaces (restaurants, casino, theater) for their exclusive use."
Outside of Florida, Celebrity Cruises will ask passengers for "verifiable proof of vaccination on boarding day." Documents provided to Celebrity must show a person is fully vaccinated at least 14 days before they board. Vaccine verification documents are available from most health agencies.
Meanwhile, Celebrity’s parent company Royal Caribbean made headlines earlier this week when its namesake brand kicked off its first simulation sail with the CDC, which had 600 fully vaccinated employees who volunteered for the voyage.
Celebrity’s first pandemic sailing is currently set for June 26, according to a company press release. The CDC-approved cruise will reportedly take place on the Celebrity Edge – a 16-deck ship that measures 1,004 feet long.
"Celebrity Edge sails with a 100% vaccinated crew and at least 95% vaccinated guests," Celebrity’s spokesperson clarified. "Around the world, all guests 16 and older are required to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to the voyage’s departure and produce proof of vaccination in order to sail. The age requirement adjust to 12 and older as of August 1. Guests not eligible for vaccinations will be subject to additional screening."