On Saturday, Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Edge will be the first cruise ship to set sail from an American port with paying passengers in more than 15 months.
Although not every passenger on board had their COVID vaccinations – two adults and 24 children, about 1% of the total number of passengers, are unvaccinated – Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said on Friday that he is confident the cruise line is ready to to return again company.
“Fortunately, that really covers you when you get very high vaccination protection,” Fain said in an interview with CNBC. âWe know there will be cases on board cruise ships. I think the most important thing is that we make sure that these are isolated incidents and that they don’t turn into an outbreak. … If someone gets sick, we know how to isolate them. “
The ship is scheduled to depart shortly after four passengers on two Royal Caribbean ships – the Celebrity Millennium and more recently the Adventure of the Seas – tested positive for COVID-19.
âº Celebrity cruises:First cruise line to receive CDC approval in June to sail with paying passengers
How many people are on board?
The ship sails at only 36% capacity, a level that Fain regards as a sign of “untapped demand” given the short-term booking deadline.
Celebrity Cruises, a subsidiary of the Royal Caribbean Group, received approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late last month to sail one of their ships with paying passengers on board.
While the lower occupancy means the cruise will be less profitable, Fain told CNBC that he is looking to slowly rebuild operations.
“We have not been deployed for 15 months, our crew has not been deployed on ships for 15 months,” he said. “We want … to give people the opportunity to practice and return to the experience.”
How many passengers are vaccinated?
While all crew members are vaccinated, Fain said the company will not enforce vaccines on passengers departing from a Florida port.
While the CDC had told cruise lines that 95% of the passengers and 95% of the crew would have to be vaccinated in order to skip test drives, the mandate violated a Florida state law Prohibition for companies to request proof of vaccination.
According to the Celebrity website, cruises departing from ports outside of Florida will continue to allow all passengers 16 and older must be fully vaccinated. From August 1st, this age will drop to 12 years.
On Friday, Fain told Yahoo Finance that he appreciates the work of Florida Governor DeSantis in advocating the cruise industry, adding that the company will “try and talk to (unvaccinated passengers) about vaccination.”
“We encourage people to get vaccinated and we really encourage them, but we accept that there are some who don’t, some children who can’t get vaccinations,” said Fain. âWe will manage the process so that we never go too far with unvaccinated people, and if necessary we will stop a cruise. But we think it’s all doable. “
Passengers test COVID positive on Adventure of the Seas
Fain admitted there will be incidents where passengers will test positive for COVID, but believes Royal Caribbean will be able to handle these cases and avoid a major outbreak on board the ship. He drew attention to the recent incidents with the Celebrity Millennium and Adventure of the Seas and said “these cases have been dealt with.”
Two passengers from the USA who shared a room on the Celebrity Millennium Tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.
And on Wednesday evening, two guests under 16 and unvaccinated on board the Adventure of the Seas tested positive for COVID after routine tests. They were “immediately quarantined” and only one experienced mild symptoms, according to a statement from Royal Caribbean spokesman Lyan Sierra Caro.
The close contacts of the passengers on the Adventure of the Seas were vaccinated and tested negative. The passengers and their tour group disembarked on Thursday in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island.
“Nobody else on board was bothered in any way,” Fain told CNBC. âThese people were isolated. … everyone else went on vacation non-stop. “
What are the rules for unvaccinated passengers?
Passengers who are not vaccinated will need to go through additional protocols to board the ship, including COVID testing at their own expense.
“It’s a great cruise for most people, whether they are vaccinated or not,” Fain told Yahoo Finance. “We just hope there will be more and our experience is that most people want to be vaccinated.”
The Celebrity Edge will embark on a seven-day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean on Saturday.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Royal Caribbean Celebrity Edge is ready to sail from Florida on Saturday