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First cruise ship sets sail since pandemic shut down, what’s changed?

Celebrity Cruise Ship
Posted at 3:44 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 22:13:07-04

PHOENIX — A Valley resident is back at sea aboard the first cruise ship to set sail from the United States since the pandemic anchored the industry last year.

“Today is the port of Costa Mya, and then Cozumel tomorrow,” said Jenner Kaplan via Zoom from the deck of the Celebrity Edge.

“The crews themselves, the staff are all wearing masks,” said Kaplan.

Kaplan says there are new rules to learn.

In a court case between the CDC and the state of Florida, a federal judge ruled against the CDC saying they overstepped their authority by requiring vaccines to set sail. At the moment vaccinations are not required for cruises setting sail from Florida. Whether the ruling is applied to other ports in other cities remains to be seen.

However, Celebrity Cruises says about 99% of passengers on this maiden voyage are vaccinated.

“Actually, the people who are not vaccinated on the ship are required to wear a mask,” said Kaplan.

According to Celebrity Cruises, unvaccinated passengers 16 and over must pay $178 dollars for three COVID tests - one prior to boarding, one mid-cruise, and a final test on return.

They’ll also be restricted to designated seating areas. For this first voyage, the cruise line chose to set sail at reduced capacity.

“They’re in the 30% capacity so you’re not on top of people, it’s definitely more spaced out,” said Kaplan.

It’s all part of an effort to avoid the catastrophe witnessed on the Diamond Princess last year.

Thousands of passengers were stuck on the ocean as the coronavirus infected hundreds. They’ve added automatic doors and installed handwashing stations throughout the ship.

“It’s really gone very touchless, so you use an app for a lot of things,” said Kaplan.

They’ve also increased medical capacity in case of an outbreak. So far Kaplan says it’s been smooth sailing for an industry that lost billions of dollars last year.