JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The cruise industry took a hard hit from the pandemic with 15 months of no cruises being on the water.
Celebrity Cruises announced last week it had received to OK from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to begin seven-night Caribbean sailings from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale beginning June 26. More ships are scheduled to sail from Florida in July.
Most cruises are set to start back up by the end of summer, and details of whether and how passengers will be required to show proof of being vaccinated -- something banned by Florida law effective July 1 -- are still being worked out.
Margie Jordan, a travel agent, said people are wanting to go on cruises as soon as possible.
“The calls are increasing the more that we’re hearing there are guidelines out there, where ships can get out fairly soon. The phones have been ringing,” Jordan said.
News4Jax put a poll out on Twitter, and 79% said they wouldn’t go on a cruise while 21% would.
“It’s been a long time for those that are die-hard cruisers,” travel agent Margie Jordan said. “They’re not giving up. They’re ready to go today if they could.”
Jordan said she’s gotten a lot of calls from people who want to book cruises.
“With all of this time that we haven’t had cruises, you’d think we’d have travelers being discouraged,” Jordan said.
Cruise ships haven’t sailed the ocean for 15 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, to make up for the lost time, cruises are charging more for tickets.
“Pricing is going to be a bit higher than we’d normally see at this time of year,” Jordan said.
Jordan said one cruise ship, the Celebrity Millennium already set sail this month. However, two passengers aboard Celebrity Millennium’s first post-pandemic voyage tested positive for coronavirus, despite the company requiring everyone on board be vaccinated.
The governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, a popular cruising destination, is concerned about what the return of ships will mean for his people.
“To have travelers that were not assured to be vaccinated or at least tested is traumatic, and when you talk about places like these small islands, they have one hospital,” Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. said.
Jordan said there is something people should keep in mind before booking a cruise.
“There should be some realistic expectations we shut down an entire industry,” Jordan said. “I don’t think there’s going to be a moment where a ship is not at risk of COVID.”
Jordan said most cruises will happen by the end of the summer or fall. She expects cruising to return to a normal season early next year.