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Cruise lines around the world have optimistically set out their restart dates, with some hoping to return to sailing as soon as March 2021. However, things are set to be a little different onboard, with an array of Covid-safe rules in place.
One such rule, which is already set to be put into action by UK over 50’s specialist Saga, states only guests who have received their coronavirus vaccine will be allowed to sail.
Now, two US cruise lines have followed suit.
River cruise line American Queen Steamboat Company and its sister brand Victory Cruise Lines announced on February 2 they would be the first North American cruise companies to ban non-vaccinated passengers.
Guests hoping to sail with the cruises must show proof of having received their coronavirus vaccine before they are able to board.
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Currently, American Queen Steamboat Company has cancelled all sailings into March.
Meanwhile, Victory Cruise Lines has no cruises scheduled to depart until April 24.
However, the new vaccination policy will only come into effect as of July 1, to ensure guests have plenty of time to access the vaccine.
John Waggoner, the CEO and founder of American Queen Steamboat Company said: “The health and safety of our guests, crew members and partners continues to remain our top priority.
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“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.”
All crew will also be vaccinated before they are able to work.
Furthermore, in a statement, the cruise line added: “If the vaccine that guests and/or crew members are administered requires two doses, they will need to have received both doses before embarking.”
Until the rule comes into place, the cruise lines are implementing pre-cruise testing for all passengers and crew, and are enforcing a face mask policy in public areas where social distancing is not possible.
Mr Waggoner added hopes the new rule would “give our loyal guests another added level of assurance to join us as we return to sailing.”
The cruise line explained: “The majority of our guests represent the 65+ population, who are eligible now or will soon be eligible to receive the vaccination.
“If a guest is not able to receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine prior to their scheduled trip, we will rebook them for a future sailing at no charge.”
Guests who do not wish to receive the vaccine should contact the cruise operator directly to discuss their options.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of a similar decision made by Saga Cruises.
“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,” said Nigel Blanks, Chief Executive Officer at Saga Cruises.
“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 news will impact passengers set to cruise onboard the Spirit of Discovery and the Spirit of Adventure in 2021.
Currently, the vaccine roll out in the UK is well underway.
In the week ending January 24, an additional 2,234,312 people were reported to have received an NHS vaccination for COVID-19 in England.
This took the total number of people vaccinated since vaccinations began on December 8 to 5,792,159 and the total vaccinations given to 6,232,584.
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