Norwegian Cruise to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for guests and crew

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings cruise ship Marina arrives at the Havana bay

By Reuters Staff

(Reuters) – Cruise operator Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd said on Monday it would require mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all guests and crew when it restarts trips from U.S. ports in July.

The company’s announcement follows the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest guidance last week to the cruise ship industry, including the need for COVID-19 vaccinations.

The cruise operator has taken a hit for over a year due to the pandemic, resulting in heavy annual losses and plunging revenue, forcing it to take new steps to ensure customers can set sail again.

Royal Caribbean, which is set to resume some trips in the Caribbean in June, and Norwegian Cruise have also set up an expert panel to safely resume operations.

“We believe that through a combination of 100% mandatory vaccinations for guests and crew and science-backed public health measures … we can create a safe, ‘bubble-like’ environment for guests and crew,” Norwegian Cruise’s Chief Executive Officer Frank Del Rio said in a statement.

In a letter to the CDC, Norwegian said it will begin trips at a reduced capacity of 60%. It then plans to gradually ramp up its fleet departing from U.S. ports and increase capacity by 20% every 30 days.

Shares of all three cruise operators – Carnival Corp, Norwegian Cruise and Royal Caribbean – were up more than 2% before the bell.

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