CruiseCrystal among a handful of cruise lines to mandate 'no vaccine, no cruise' for guests, while other players are still on the fence.

No jab, no go for cruise passengers?

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The Crystal Endeavor
Crystal's earliest reopening is for its river fleet currently paused through May, which the cruise line says will give most travellers sufficient time to get fully vaccinated before sailing. Photo Credit: The Crystal Endeavor

Crystal Cruises will require that guests be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 at least two weeks prior to their cruise, when the luxury line resumes service on its river and ocean ships.

Crystal said its crew will be expected to be vaccinated, as well, when the company resumes sailing, but "this may not be a viable option for all crew members given their age and/or the availability of vaccines in their home countries." Once vaccines are widely available, crew vaccinations will be a requirement of employment.

The vaccine requirement is part of the Crystal Clean+ 4.0 measures, which include a negative Covid test for both guests and crew prior to embarkation, temperature checks at the terminal prior to boarding, mask and social distancing guidelines, enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures and reduced capacity. Guests will need to provide proof of vaccination before embarkation.

"We know that peace of mind is the greatest luxury; and the vaccine requirement is simply the best way to ensure the safest possible Crystal experience for all onboard," Crystal's interim CEO, Jack Anderson, said in a statement. "This sentiment is underscored by conversations with our guests and travel partners," he added, as well as a recent Cruise Critic survey that found that more than 80% of respondents would cruise if a vaccine were required.

Crystal follows at least three other brands this month that said they would require passengers to be inoculated.

Sister brands American Queen Steamboat Co. and Victory Cruise Lines were the first cruise companies catering to North Americans to mandate that passengers have full Covid-19 vaccinations in order to sail, beginning 1 July. Saga Cruises, based in the UK, implemented the requirement for its sailings launching in May.

Currently, Crystal's river fleet is paused through May; its ocean ships into June; the Crystal Esprit yacht and its newbuild expedition ship, the Crystal Endeavor, into August. Crystal said this will give most travellers sufficient time to get fully vaccinated before sailing.

Royal Caribbean RipCord by iFLY
Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises will require its crew members to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Pictured: RipCord by iFLY Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean International

Among the larger cruise companies, Royal Caribbean Group announced that its three cruise lines — Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises — will require crew members to receive the Covid-19 vaccine prior to returning to work on their ships.

In Singapore, where Royal Caribbean International has resumed sailings on Quantum of the Seas, testing will continue to be carried out even for vaccinated passengers as “there are not enough known facts about the vaccine and whether you’re still a carrier", said Angie Stephen, the cruise line's Asia Pacific managing director.

“We will go on an abundance of caution," with Stephen adding too that with Singapore's vaccine rollout progressively underway, there's a better chance of senior passengers coming onboard.

Michael Goh, president of Dream Cruises and head of international sales of Genting Cruise Lines — the only other operator allowed in Singapore's cruise restart apart from Royal Caribbean — said that the cruise line is "working very closely with key international bodies [and] different local authorities...reviewing and enhancing safety and preventive measures focus towards the continual improvement of the infection prevention and control processes, including vaccination requirement options".

Goh said that this is especially true in "both our current active markets in Taiwan and Singapore," which have both reported zero confirmed Covid-19 cases to date. "We will continue to update our guests should there be any new updates or changes on the pre-cruise requirements in the near future."

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings previously indicated it would too require that guests be fully vaccinated, while Carnival Corp.'s CEO said last week that it was too soon to decide.

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