Crystal Cruises will be back in business this July, it was revealed on Thursday (March 11), as the company plans to sail week-long itineraries that call on Bahamian destinations, round-trip from Nassau (Saturday departure) or Bimini (Sunday departure), through October.
The news, which makes Crystal the first North American cruise company to restart operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, was announced by interim CEO Jack Anderson via virtual conference.
Crystal Serenity will accommodate no more than 900 guests with sailings from July 3 through at least October 2021, and pre and post-land programs in the Bahamas will be offered.
The ports of call will include Harbour Island, San Salvador, Long Island and Great Exuma.
These ports of call are subject to final confirmation and enhancement and may also vary according to the captain’s discretion due to weather or other conditions.
“Like our guests, we have been eagerly looking forward to the day we can welcome them back on board, and we’re thrilled that this day will come in The Bahamas,” Mr. Anderson said. “The new Bahamas Escapes cruises will allow travelers to enjoy luxury cruising now, as well as bring much-needed benefits to the local workforce, airlines, restaurants, retailers and hotels for pre- and post-cruise stays. The launch of these cruises will also drive economic growth to The Bahamas, which, like other destinations around the world, has been negatively affected by the global pandemic.”
The new itineraries highlight the enchanting, romantic nature of The Bahamas and its islands, where guests will find sun-drenched pursuits that showcase the destination’s ecotourism; thousands of miles of beaches and blue waters; scuba diving and snorkeling; world-class fishing, dining, resort experiences, and more.
“This is a milestone achievement,” added Dionisio D’Aguilar, Minister of Tourism & Aviation for The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Proof of vaccination
Last month, Crystal announced that it will be mandating proof of COVID-19 vaccinations for all of its guests.
The new measure draws on the “latest scientific data and expert guidance” and adds to Crystal Clean+ protocols, including negative COVID-19 tests and health screening questionnaires.
“We have made the decision that guests must be fully inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine (with both doses if recommended by the manufacturer) at least 14 days prior to boarding any Crystal ship and will be asked to provide proof of vaccination before embarkation,” reads a notice posted to the company’s website.
Crystal crew are also now required to take a COVID-19 test at embarkation, quarantine for seven days upon arrival, take a test at the end of that seven-day period and must receive a negative result, before beginning their duties.
For a detailed Q&A about Crystal’s new vaccination requirements, click here.
Vicky Garcia, COO and co-owner of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative, immediately issued a response to the news after it was announced on Thursday.
“Finally, we have a date to return to sailing,” said Garcia in a statement. “Kudos to Crystal for creating a luxury, close-to-home experience for our travel advisors to sell, as this type of Bahamas cruise is different for the brand. We know these will sell out fast because of the pent-up consumer demand, our consistent recent growth in sales, and the fact that Crystal has smaller vessels."
She said the itineraries will appeal to "so many clients," including mature travellers who are vaccinated, upper-premium travellers who can now experience Crystal’s luxury product with this week-long sailing and those who just want to get on a ship.
"I think we can all call this a win for cruising and something we have been looking forward to.”
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