One of the largest cruise companies in the world says coronavirus vaccinations will be needed to board its ships. Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain told the BBC, “We expect all our guests eligible for a vaccine to receive it”.
Cruising is a global industry that was worth $ 150 billion before the pandemic and supported about 1.2 million jobs.
The U.S. is the largest market for the industry, almost completely shut down by the pandemic. In 2019, of a record 29.7 million people who were on a voyage, 46.5% left for a U.S. port.
CEO Fain is hopeful that customers will be encouraged to return soon through a range of new safety measures, including reduced capacity, social distance and improved cleaning processes.
“The combination of vaccines and testing and contact tracing, all these kinds of protocols, really help us achieve our goal, namely to make it safer than in your home community.”
“We want you to be more comfortable walking onboard a ship than walking down Main Street.”
The Center for Disease Control (CDC), which is the U.S. federal agency for public health, has worked closely with the industry to start sailing again.
This stopped them in March last year after deadly outbreaks on ships such as the Grand Princess and the Diamond Princess made international headlines.
Over the past few weeks, the CDC has outlined detailed instructions on how sailing operators can conduct test runs to test their coronavirus protocols. Alternatively, it says that the voyages can resume if 98% of the crew and 95% of the passengers are vaccinated.
A statement said they were working on the “prospective resumption of passenger operations in the United States by mid-summer”.
It adds that the “CDC acknowledges that it is not possible to make a zero-risk activity for Covid-19 distribution.”