The first cruise ship to board passengers at a U.S. port in 15 months is set to sail Saturday from the industry’s South Florida hub.
Industry officials hope the voyage by Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Edge vessel serves as a bookend for people for whom the gravity of the pandemic first hit home in the alarming reports last year of deadly outbreaks on crowded ships. “We are excited to be part of that,” said Russ Schwartz, a Florida school principal who is honeymooning on the ship and is confident it will be smooth sailing. “Things have changed drastically. Back then we really didn’t know much about the virus. Cruises at that point weren’t prepared.”
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“I feel really safe with my mask, I’m vaccinated, everyone’s vaccinated, so I feel really good about it,” said Carolina Jimenez, a 25-year-old law student who was invited along as a plus-one. “It’s unfortunate how long it’s taken to come back, but I think that’s something no one could have controlled, and I’m just glad that now we’re here and getting back to it.”
The ship will be sailing at 40% capacity as Celebrity and the industry work towards a US recovery. Celebrity Cruises says at least 95% of those boarding the Celebrity Edge have been vaccinated against the coronavirus in line with health requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.