Two U.S cruise lines have recently announced that they will be moving to make vaccinations mandatory for passengers to sail aboard.
American Queen Steamboat Company, as well as its sister company, Victory Cruise Lines, will effectively become the first North American cruise operators to officially require proof of COVID-19 vaccination from all crew-members, passengers and non-shipboard employees.
The cruise lines have determined to implement the policy as a measure to increase public health safety, as they prepare for operations in the summer.
Speaking on the announcement, the CEO and Founder of American Queen Steamboat Company, John Waggoner stated:
“The health and safety of our guests, crewmembers and partners continues to remain our top priority. Vaccination requirement for both our guests and crew is the most prudent next step to ensure that we are providing the safest cruising experience possible. Our new vaccination requirement, coupled with comprehensive health and safety protocols and risk-free booking policy, will give our loyal guests another added level of assurance to join us as we return to sailing.”
About the New Requirements
The new vaccination mandate is set to come into effect for all sailings beginning July 1st.
The effective date was decided based upon the CDC’s outlining of Phase 1C of vaccine allocation, which includes essential transportation workers, to have the vaccine readily available by July 1st.
Additionally, the cruise lines have disclosed that many of their passengers on river cruises and ocean-going cruises are over the age of 65 and should either already be eligible or soon be eligible to get vaccinated.
The cruise lines will continue to enforce further measures in addition to the vaccine requirement, specifically CDC guidelines of temperature screenings, mask-wearing in public spaces, reducing ship capacity and more.
Passengers which are unable to receive both doses of their vaccination prior to boarding may rebook for a future date at no additional cost.
For those unwilling to get vaccinated, the cruise lines advise them to contact the reservations department.
UK Cruise Line First to Require Vaccination
Last month, UK based cruise line, Saga Cruises, became the first cruise operator globally to require passengers to be fully vaccinated. The cruise line is specifically catered for passengers aged 50 and over.
The requirement of vaccination has been discussed as a prerequisite to resume travel operations, however, not yet widely adopted.
With two U.S. cruise operators correspondingly moving to also require vaccinations, it remains to be seen whether the rest of the industry is soon to follow suit.
Last year, Qantas became the first global airline to announce a plan for mandatory vaccination for travelers, and recently some countries have started to open up borders for vaccinated tourists.
Cruise Line Industry Struggling with Pandemic
Granted the circumstances of cruises, in which a substantial group of people are together in a limited space for a great period of time, the industry has faced challenges in resuming operations amidst the pandemic.
Most recently, Disney Cruise Lines has extended the suspension of their operations, which were intended to return this month, to go through the end of April.
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has estimated the suspension of operations resulted in a loss of $25 billion in economic activity and over 164 000 American jobs from March to November, 2020.
Meanwhile, north of the border, Canada has announced that they will ban the operation of cruise ships until February 2022.
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