Ever since Celebrity Cruises announced restart plans for cruises from the United States, the big question has been how will the cruise line get around Florida's vaccine passport ban.
Florida passed a law that prohibits any business from asking anyone to provide proof of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Under Florida law, it is impermissible for any business operating in Florida to require patrons or customers to provide documentation certifying Covid-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery “to gain access to, entry upon, or services from” the business.
The new Florida law goes into effect on July 1, and carries with up to a $5,000 fine per violation.
Celebrity Cruises told travel agents on a webinar on Tuesday that they will not require passengers to show proof of vaccination, but someone that prefers or opts out of showing proof will be held to a different set of protocols onboard, as well as additional costs to incur to confirm they are healthy.
During a webinar with travel agents, Dondra Ritzenthaler, Celebrity Cruises Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Service, informed travel agents of their plan for U.S. cruises so they can sail and comply with Florida's laws.
Celebrity still intends to sail with at least 95% vaccinated guests, but it will optional to show proof of being vaccinated or not.
Celebrity requires its passengers from the United States who are age 16 and above to be fully vaccinated. As of August 1, 2021, all guests age 12 and older must be fully vaccinated.
"Florida is a little bit different," Ms. Ritzenthaler explained. "We will still go out with 100 percent of our crew and 95 percent of our guest vaccinated."
"In Florida, we will not require you to have to show proof of vaccination, because we are doing this exactly the right way, but we will go out with 95% of our guests still vaccinated."
If you choose not to show proof of vaccination, then there are additional steps required to fulfill in order to sail.
According to Celebrity, guests who do not show proof of vaccination will be considered unvaccinated and will require a SARS-COV-2 test at the terminal at their own expense.
Guests that do not meet the requirements will be denied boarding. Unvaccinated passengers may be also be restricted in certain ports, depending on the local laws.
"Guests who do not provide documentation of full vaccination will be considered unvaccinated and will require a Covid test at the terminal at their own expense. Guests that do not meet the requirements will be denied boarding."
What was not made clear during the webinar is how exactly Celebrity will ensure a 95% vaccinated minimum of guests onboard, if they are not certain how many guests will not provide proof of vaccination at check-in.
This question came up again, and Ms. Ritzenthaler assured travel agents they would stop selling certain room categories depending on vaccine status.
"Our President and CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, right before this call said, Dondra, you reassure every travel adviser on this call that we will sail with 95 percent of our guests vaccinated. Guys, the way we're going to do that is we're going to manage the sailing, right?
"We're going to make sure that we open some cabin categories. We closed some cabin categories. We are going to make sure that 95 percent of our guests are vaccinated. That is on us, not you. But you know, you can trust me. You can trust this brand. We will go out at ninety five percent vaccinated on our ships."
Masks will not be required for vaccinated guests and children 15 and younger.
Unvaccinated adult guests are required to wear a mask at all times, except while eating or drinking or in their stateroom.
Guests are not restricted to cruise line excursions, although unvaccinated guests may face restrictions based on local laws.
On cruises longer than 4 nights from the United States, unvaccinated guests will be required to take a SARS-CoV-2 test prior to disembarkation, which will be at their own expense.
The disembarkation test will be administered by Celebrity at no cost for children or other persons unable to be vaccinated.