LONGWOOD, Fla. – The first cruise with paying passengers is set to sail from a Florida port this month, marking a comeback from the cruise industry after it stopped sailings last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bob Cook, the director of sales for Go Travel in Longwood, said this is the longest he’s ever gone without being on a cruise ship. He said he can’t wait to return to the Celebrity Edge.
“I’m looking forward to that, I’m back,” Cook said.
Cook is sailing from Ft. Lauderdale on June 26, marking the first cruise with paying passengers to leave from a U.S. port since cruise lines shut down last March due to the pandemic. Royal Caribbean scheduled a test cruise to leave from Miami on June 20.
“It’s a very big deal. This is going to be a very good test for everybody to see how it’s handled from the United States,” Cook said.
Cook said he sent Celebrity Cruises his COVID-19 vaccination card, but it was not a requirement. He said because he voluntarily submitted proof of vaccination, he is not required to take a COVID-19 test before boarding.
Cook said if passengers don’t show proof of vaccination, then they will have to take a COVID-19 test before getting on the ship.
“By law, they’re not allowed to ask if you’re vaccinated, but if someone says, ‘I’m vaccinated. Can you show me your card?’ Show the card, you do not have to take the COVID test. You just walk right on the ship,” he said.
The seven-day cruise is stopping at two ports in Mexico and the Bahamas. Cook said everyone will be required to take a COVID-19 test before returning to the U.S.
He adds everything on board is paperless. Passengers will use the Celebrity cruise line app to access menus, look up events, or use a map. Passengers can use free wireless on board to access the app.
Cook said the app will also help track any potential exposures or outbreaks.
“It’s a whole system as I understand it. This was what was proposed, and is supposed to be in place, that they can track anyone who came within ‘X’ number of feet of you,” Cook said.
Cook said he feels confident cruising again. She said the cruise lines have strict protocols in place to keep everyone safe.
“I want to experience life as I had it before and this is the first step in my life that I had known for many, many years,” Cook said.