Cruising out of the United States is back and Celebrity Cruises is leading the charge.
The Miami-based cruise line has announced that on Saturday, June 26, 2021, the luxurious Celebrity Edge will depart Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, becoming the first cruise ship to sail with paying passengers from U.S. waters in more than a year.
While many cruise brands have announced restart plans, Celebrity is the first to get the official go-ahead from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after 15 months of halting operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For the past 15 months our conversations with friends and loved ones about seeing the world have been accompanied by the phrase ‘someday,’” said Celebrity Cruises CEO and President Lisa Lutoff-Perlo in a statement on Wednesday (May 26). “I’m beyond proud and excited to say that day has arrived.”
Captain Kate McCue, the first and still only American female Captain, will have the honour of leading the fleet – and the industry – back into operation, the company said.
Celebrity Edge will set sail on a seven-night cruise of the Caribbean – at a reduced capacity – in what promises to be a “historic moment for the brand and the industry.”
The company said Celebrity Edge was given the green light by the CDC after having met all new standards for providing a healthy cruise experience for its guests and crew.
All crew will be vaccinated and most passengers will have to be.
Initially, U.S. guests 16 and older are required to be fully vaccinated; that age drops to 12 as of Aug. 1. (Requirements for non-U.S. guests vary and more details can be found here).
“The power of travel has a way of healing our souls as we connect with cultures, sights, and experiences that bring greater joy and renewed energy to our lives. Nothing compares to these experiences at sea and now the wonder of these journeys returns,” Lutoff-Perlo said. “We’ve been preparing for this day for months and, on behalf of all of us at Celebrity Cruises, we’re ready and we can’t wait to welcome our guests aboard once again!”
Back in business
Inaugurated in 2018, Celebrity Edge’s unique outward-facing design breaks from traditional shipbuilding.
Aboard, guests feel more connected with the sea and the places they visit, whether it’s sipping cocktails from the sundeck of The Retreat, a private resort-within-a-resort, or taking in the stunning vistas from the botanical Rooftop Garden.
The ship is famous for its game-changing Magic Carpet, soaring cantilevered above the sea, and transformational accommodations like the ultra-luxe two-story villas with private plunge pools.
Richard Fain, chairman of Royal Caribbean Group, parent company of Celebrity Cruises, said the restart is the result of a collaboration with the CDC, elected officials at the local, state and national levels and industry partners at CLIA.
“We’ve consulted with the brightest minds in the health industry to ensure that our passengers and crew feel safe and comfortable on our ships while enjoying the uncompromised experience they know and love,” Fain said in a statement.
Travellers looking to be the first to book a luxury Caribbean vacation this summer can book now, choosing between Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.
Eight of the 15 ships within the Celebrity Cruises’ fleet now have plans to return to sailing in 2021 and are ready to take guests to popular destinations in the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska and the Galapagos.
The Caribbean comeback
First announced in March 2021, Celebrity Millennium will not only be the first in the fleet to sail with guests again, but also the first ship in the industry to sail the Caribbean when she makes her return to service in St Maarten on June 5.
Taking in Aruba, Curacao and Barbados over seven nights, it promises to be a spectacular exploration of the islands and their famed blue waters.
European Wonder: Greek Isles + British Isles
Celebrity Apex, the newest addition to the fleet, will make her world debut in Athens on June 19, with seven-night sailings to the Greek Isles.
The cruise marks a historic return to Greece for the company, which was founded there 33 years ago.
Celebrity Silhouette will also summer in Southampton, offering UK residents specially designed cruises of the British Isles.
Taking in some of the most spectacular coastline anywhere in the world, guests will enjoy this ship also transformed as part of the $500 million ‘revolution’ program.
The U.S. summer sailings also follow Celebrity news that beginning July 4, the luxurious, state-of-the-art mega-yacht, Celebrity Flora, will resume sailing the Galapagos Islands.
She will be followed soon after by the award-winning Celebrity Xpedition and intimate 16-passenger Celebrity Xploration on July 24, and Sept. 18, respectively.
The Last Frontier: Alaska
Just last week, Celebrity announced its long-awaited return to the natural wonders and wildlife of Alaska beginning July 23.
Further announcements on the remaining vessels will be made in the coming weeks.
Celebrity's U.S. comeback comes after the company, in April, revealed details of its newest ship, Celebrity Beyond, which will debut April 27, 2022, in Southampton and call at Bordeaux, Lisbon, Seville, Mallorca and Barcelona.
Beyond will be the third ship in Celebrity's "new luxury" Edge Series.
Size will be key differentiator with this ship: Beyond will be both longer and taller than its predecessors and many spaces have been redesigned. It also will include 179 more cabins.
The ship also brings together an all-star list of collaborators and talent, featuring contributions from actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Chef Daniel Boulud, British designer Kelly Hoppen CBE; designer Nate Berkus, Paris-based design firm Jouin Manku and British architect Tom Wright.
Healthy at Sea
Celebrity has established new health and safety measures in accordance with guidance from public health authorities, government agencies, and our own team of health and safety experts to provide our guests with the peace of mind to fully enjoy their journey with us.
The measures will evolve in keeping with current public health standards.
Guests are encouraged to regularly check the guidance on all health and safety measures across the entire Celebrity vacation experience can be found here.
Simplifying the luxury vacation experience, Wi-Fi, drinks, and tips are now ‘Always Included’ on every Celebrity cruise.
And, Celebrity’s “Cruise with Confidence” program provides flexible cancellations and the best price guarantees.
For more information on Celebrity Cruises’ new U.S. summer sailings, guests and travel advisors can click here.
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