American Cruise Lines is the first cruise line to resume sailing in U.S. waters since the coronavirus pandemic, according to an article on USA Today.
On Saturday, American Cruise Lines’ coastal ship Independence left Amelia Island on a seven-day cruise to Charleston.
Travel agent Scott Lara said it’s an exciting time, but one to keep an eye out for.
“If this thing goes well, it is a precursor for what can happen in the future. If it goes bad, it won’t be good,” Lara said.
The Independence usually carries 100 passengers, but capacity has been reduced to 75%, Chris Gray Faust with CruiseCritic.com wrote in the article on USA Today. Being a smaller ship, Lara said, the cruise line used it to its advantage.
American Cruise Line said on its website that it requires a negative COVID-19 test for all guests and crew before boarding, a passenger health screening is required, masks must be worn on board and social distancing must be followed. Guests are also encouraged to get a COVID-19 vaccine before traveling, but it’s not mandatory, according to the cruise line.
“There’s a huge anti-vaccine sentiment, and people don’t want to get vaccinated,” Lara said. “I feel confident that the cruise lines are going to require vaccinations before they cruise.”
Lara said that as vaccinations continue to roll out, especially in Jacksonville, he feels tourism will go back up and the cruise industry will start recovering.
According to the USA Today article, the next cruise line set to sail in U.S. waters since the pandemic is the American Queen Steamboat Company. Starting July 1, the company will require all passengers and crew to be vaccinated, according to its website.