Celebrity Cruises adjusts vaccine policy to obey Florida law

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T0628CELEBRITYEDGE_HR_C [Credit: Celebrity Cruises]
The Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Equinox will sail from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale this summer. Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises updated its vaccine policy so the line will be able to maintain a 95% threshold of fully vaccinated passengers and not run afoul of Florida's law that prohibits businesses from asking for proof of vaccination. 

For all Celebrity sailings except for those departing Florida, the cruise line mandates that all guests age 16 and above must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to sail date on all of its ships.

For cruises from Florida, Celebrity now recommends that anyone 16 years and older be vaccinated. And while the cruise line cannot require proof of vaccination to sail, guests 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." 

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Celebrity has plans to launch two ships from Florida so far this summer: the Celebrity Edge on June 26 followed by the Celebrity Equinox on July 25, both from Port Everglades. 

The additional requirements for unvaccinated guests includes 4 tests: a PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival at the terminal, an antigen test at the pier and two antigen tests onboard -- one mid-sailing and the other at the end of the cruise. The total cost for the tests is $178 per person.

Guests declining to show proof of vaccination will also have to wear masks at all times onboard except while eating or drinking. Depending on local government requirements, they may be restricted from going ashore.

And, unvaccinated guests will have designated seating areas in some public venues.

In contrast, vaccinated guests do not have to wear masks onboard and will not be charged for the re-entry test required to return to the U.S. at the end of the cruise.

"They are allowing unvaccinated people to cruise but making it really undesirable to cruise if you're unvaccinated," said Anthony Hamawy of Cruise.com. "It's a smart move -- they found a middle ground."

The strategy dovetails with what Richard Fain, CEO of Celebrity parent company Royal Caribbean Group, said about unvaccinated people over 16 who cruise on Royal Caribbean International this summer from Florida.

"Those who are unvaccinated will need to undergo additional testing and other restrictions," Fain said. "That necessarily adds to their cost and adds limitations on the cruise for those people who choose to be unvaccinated. There would be no additional cost for children who are not eligible for the vaccine. ... Our plan therefore continues to be that virtually everyone who's eligible for a vaccine will have one." 

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