The Celebrity Edge on Saturday became the first cruise ship to sail with passengers from a U.S. port after a 15-month ban due to the pandemic and marked the beginning of “a new dawn” for the industry, according to the company that owns it.
Port Everglades, located in the vicinity of Fort Lauderdale (Florida), saw off the cruise ship of the company Celebrity Cruises, part of the Royal Caribbean Group.
The hope fleet
Today marks the rebirth of our company and our industry as our beautiful Celebrity Edge sets sail for a new luxury experience that will once again fuel people’s love of travel,” Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, the company’s president and CEO, tweeted in recent days.
At the helm of the cruise ship, which carries nearly 1,100 passengers, 36 percent of its capacity, the vast majority of whom are vaccinated as is 100 percent of the crew, is Kate McCue, the first and still only American woman to captain a major cruise ship.
The ship set sail for Mexico and the Bahamas for a seven-night voyage, according to the company, which exactly one month ago received the green light from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for today’s departure.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, cruise ships can avoid test voyages if 98% of crew and 95% of travelers are vaccinated against Covid-19.
“This is a momentous sailing that we have been preparing for a long time,” said Richard Fain, president of Royal Caribbean Group, who stressed that “travel is a powerful catalyst for positive change in our world.”
“There is nothing more enriching in life than being exposed to new cultures, sights and experiences, and nothing more luxurious than doing so aboard a Celebrity cruise ship,” he added.
Cruise with new opportunity
Named “one of the best places in the world” by Time magazine, Celebrity Edge made its maiden voyage in 2018 and is considered one of the world’s most innovative cruise ships.
The design is intended to make passengers feel more connected to the sea and the ports they visit.
It features, among other things, luxurious two-story villas with private pools.
“The week after our entire industry was ashore last March, I started a #HopeFloats tradition of honking the ship’s horn every night to let the world know that not only were we safe, but that we were thinking of those at home and hoping the same. for them,” said Captain McCue.
With Celebrity Edge now at sea, eight of the 14 ships in Celebrity Cruises’ fleet have plans to return to sail in 2021 and are set to take passengers to destinations in the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska and the Galapagos.
Celebrity Cruises has established new health and safety measures in accordance with guidance from public health authorities, government agencies and its own health and safety team and experts to provide passengers with the peace of mind needed to fully enjoy their voyage.
In early June, Judge Stephen Merryday of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, based in Tampa (on Florida’s west coast), approved a petition filed by state authorities in a lawsuit against the governmental CDC that is still pending.
DeSantis asked the court to act against the “conditional sailing order” issued by the CDC in October, which contains a series of measures to allow shipping companies to resume cruise ship operations from U.S. ports.
The judge ruled that as of July 18, the CDC’s guidelines for cruise ships departing from Florida will not be in the nature of a rule but rather a recommendation.
Merryday’s decision is a victory for Florida Governor Ron Desantis, who said that “the CDC has been wrong all along and they knew it.”
According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents 95% of the companies with ocean cruises, between March and September 2020 those companies had global losses of $77 billion, $23 billion in wages and 518,000 jobs.