Cruise ships that sail out of the U.S. have been on “pause” since March 2020 due to COVID-19. Although the no-sail order expired in the fall, ships are still holding off while they figure out how to follow all of the CDC’s new requirements for cruise ships (the list includes going through mock cruises to ensure everything works well. Royal Caribbean put out a request for volunteers and the response they got was CRAZY!). Meanwhile, cruises based out of the U.S. keep canceling cruises for this spring (and into the summer).
But that’s in the U.S., where we’ve never had any handle on the virus. Other countries did and managed to offer some cruises over the summer and into the fall. Some were successful, some not so much. And wow, wouldn’t it have been awful to be a passenger on this cruise?
Anyway, with COVID vaccines beginning, that adds another possible requirement into the mix. U.S.-based cruise ships appear to be in something of a holding pattern, waiting to see what the CDC says under the Biden administration. But outside the U.S., one cruise company has thrown down the gauntlet and has become the first to say they will require vaccines to be a passenger on their ships.
Under the Saga brand of travel and tourism, Saga Cruises is a cruise line based in the U.K. They’re something of a “niche” company, as they exclusively market to and operate for passengers aged 50 and older. Anyway, they’ve recently announced that they will require guests to be fully vaccinated for coronavirus before boarding their cruise ships.
The cruise line explained their reasoning in a letter to passengers on their website. From said letter:
Since I last wrote to you, we have welcomed the news that the COVID‑19 vaccination programme has started to be rolled out across the country, with many of our guests amongst the first groups of people being offered the vaccine.
It is with this in mind that we have once more reviewed our health and safety procedures to ensure we are providing the safest possible cruise experience. We have taken the decision to introduce the requirement that all guests must be fully vaccinated against COVID‑19 at least 14 days before sailing with us.
The company’s first post-COVID cruise was supposed to take off on April 3rd, but to allow all of their passengers to have time to get vaccinated, they will have a delay and wait until May 4th until its “Spirit of Adventure” leaves port.
This means that, all cruises prior to this will no longer go ahead as planned which I am sure will come as a huge disappointment to you, but I also know that you will understand our reasons behind this.
Not surprisingly, the cruise line has gotten a lot of feedback, both positive and negative, for this decision, to the point that, as per CNN, they temporarily made their Twitter account private.
Saga has also added other safety measures to protect its passengers due to the pandemic, including mandatory coronavirus tests, limiting capacity to 800 guests, creating a dedicated isolation area and doubling its medical team.
Meanwhile, you can be sure that cruise lines (and cruise fans!) from around the world will have their eyes on Saga Cruises to see what happens before, during and after that first cruise in early May.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary