Starting July 1, passengers on American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines must have a Covid-19 vaccination in order to sail, parent company Hornblower Group said today.
The vaccination requirement will also apply to shipboard crew and shoreside employees across all seven vessels in the American Queen and Victory fleets.
"A 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," said John Waggoner, CEO and founder of American Queen Steamboat Company. "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."
The vaccine mandate is part of the health and safety measures the brands announced in 2020, which includes pre-cruise Covid-19 testing of all guests and crew and a mask mandate in all public areas where social distancing is not possible.
The company said that the vaccine requirement also provides an additional safeguard for the communities the ships visits. Drivers on Victory and American Queen shoreside excursions, including day-tours partner Shore Excursions of America, will also have to be vaccinated.
Hornblower said that the majority of its guests represent the 65-plus population, who are eligible now or will soon be eligible to receive the vaccination. The company said that if a passenger is not able to receive both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine prior to their scheduled trip, it will rebook them on a future sailing.
The company also said that based on the current CDC recommendation that Phase 1c of the vaccination allocation includes essential workers engaged in transportation, vaccinations should be readily be available and able to be administered to crew members before July 1.
American Queen plans to launch service in March and Victory in May.
Saga Cruises, an independent, U.K.-based line that targets customers 50 and over, has also said that when it resumes service passengers will be required to be vaccinated. And Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio said last month that the line is looking into the legality of mandating vaccines.