Norwegian Cruise Line plans to require COVID-19 vaccine; asks CDC to resume U.S. cruises in July

MIAMI – Norwegian Cruise Line announced on Monday that they are asking federal authorities to allow U.S. cruises to resume in July. The Miami-based cruise line plans to require that all guests have completed the COVID-19 vaccine series no less than two weeks before departure.

Frank J. Del Rio, the president and chief executive officer of the cruise line, told the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that they will first operate the vessels at 60% capacity if they are allowed to begin U.S. cruises on the Fourth of July.

Del Rio’s position is that the mandatory vaccination will eliminate the need for the federal government’s conditional sailing order and be able to resume sailings without conducting test cruises and without submitting plans to the CDC 60 days in advance.

Norwegian outlined its plan to incorporate the Healthy Sail Panel, a protocol developed in partnership with the Royal Caribbean Group, which includes the vaccine requirement and universal testing of guests and crew.

The CDC issued its latest guidance for cruise ships last Friday, calling upon companies to establish agreements at ports where they intend to operate, implement routine testing of crew, and develop plans incorporating vaccination strategies.

“The CDC and the cruise line industry needs to sit down and review best protocols so that this way everyone can move forward,” said Stewart Chiron, also known as “The Cruise Guy.”

The Cruise Lines International Association also issued a statement on Monday saying the cruise industry instructions that the CDC issued on Friday were disappointing.

“The new requirements are unduly burdensome, largely unworkable, and seem to reflect a zero-risk objective rather than the mitigation approach to COVID that is the basis for every other US sector of our society,” the CLIA statement said.

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Local 10 News Reporter Trent Kelly contributed to this report.

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