March 29, 2021

FASTER, PLEASE: Cruises for Americans Are Coming Back—With or Without CDC Blessing.

Crystal Cruises is getting Americans back out on its luxury ships—with or without a green light from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While most major cruise companies continue to wait for the government agency to establish guidelines for a safe return to sea, the two-ship Crystal, owned by Genting Hong Kong, is taking another route entirely. On Thursday it opened sales for 16 itineraries that sail exclusively around the Bahamas a week at a time, starting in July, allowing American travelers easy access while bypassing all U.S. restrictions.

The trips will only be made available to fully inoculated travelers, who must show their vaccine cards before boarding. They’ll sail from Nassau or Bimini to Great Exuma and several islands not typically frequented by cruise ships—all on the 980-passenger Crystal Serenity, known for such niceties as butler-serviced penthouse suites and complimentary Nobu sushi. Prices will start at $1,999 per person.

“While many of our guests have explored the far reaches of the world, this is a time when people are staying closer to home as the world emerges from a year of not traveling,” says Jack Anderson, Crystal’s interim president and CEO.

It’s also a time of great uncertainty for the cruise industry. While airlines and resorts have begun to see glimmers of recovery, ships are still sitting in layup, manned by skeleton crews, with their parent companies cumulatively losing billions on a quarterly basis.

Given the role of cruising in his state’s economy, it’s not surprising to see Ron DeSantis trying shake the CDC out of their Biden-esque slumber: Florida Gov DeSantis threatens to sue US over cruise ship ban. Florida saw $3.2 billion loss after first six months of pandemic in cruise industry alone.

It’s not just the CDC, however: “CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that in a Senate hearing last week that her agency wasn’t the sole actor holding things back. She suggested that the Department of Transportation and other agencies were also part of the decision making. That was news to the cruise lines, who have been waiting for direction from the agency, under its Conditional Framework for Sailing order for the past six months.”

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