Questions remain about the medical protocols that will be in place aboard Celebrity Cruises’ ships and during shore excursions during its summer cruises with St. Louis. But the company’s sales director says Star and its customers are eager to get back to sea after a year off.
It is encouraging that we are sailing and the phones are ringing off the hook, said Dondra Ritzenthaler, executive vice president of sales, marketing support and service for the 14-ship Royal Caribbean Group brand.
Sales started yesterday for a series of cruises starting on the 5th. June from St. John’s St. Maarten aboard the Celebrity Millennium. It’s the oldest ship in the liner fleet, but it doesn’t show – a $40 million renovation has made her as good as new. Ritzenthaler told an online audience of tourism consultants that the initial response to the Caribbean summer program has been phenomenal.
Beginning of the end of the journey.
Returning to the Caribbean after being away for more than a year is a momentous occasion for us, said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, in announcing the program. It marks the deliberate beginning of the end of what has been a unique experience for all.
Celebrity announced this week that the newest ship in its fleet, the 2,900-passenger, 117,000-gross ton Celebrity Apex, will be available for charter starting on 19… From June to September, seven-day trips around the world depart from Athens. The order must be in by the 30th. March open.
Construction of the summit was completed last March, just as the global health crisis was crippling the cruise industry. The ship has not yet set sail with the paid passengers.
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In St. Maarten and Greece, all crew members and guests over the age of 18 must be vaccinated against COVIDA-19 at least 14 days prior to embarkation; those under the age of 18 must present a negative PCR test result.
Exam, exam, one, two, three
Guests must also present a negative PCR test to enter the host country. In St. Maarten, customers have five days (120 hours) after a negative test to enter the country and board the ship, while in Greece a negative test must be received three days (72 hours) before boarding. For celebrities, boarding is possible up to 120 hours after a negative test, so guests can enter Greece earlier if they wish.
Other health measures : Celebrity passengers must undergo an express antigen test at the beginning and end of the cruise. The final test is the commitment to return to the United States. St. Maarten also requires the purchase of approved travel insurance, while Greece requires travelers to complete a short passenger notification form before entering the country.
Is it masked or unmasked?
In a rapidly changing environment, some health protocols are still evolving. Is it a mask or not? That’s the biggest question we’re waiting for, Ritzenthaler said, referring to whether passengers will be required to wear protective gear in public places.
The shipping company is still working with health and local authorities to determine issues such as acceptable vaccination records, certain onboard protocols and guidelines for shore excursions – including whether guests may disembark and explore the ports on their own or will be limited to organized excursions.
It is confirmed that a variety of tours are offered at each port of call, including private excursions and small-group study tours for customers who prefer to explore the destinations alone with family members or fellow travelers.
Prices include WiFi, drinks and supplements
The prices of the yachts will reflect the company’s new concept, which includes wifi, drinks and cash gifts.
On the inaugural voyages to the Caribbean and Eastern Mediterranean, the ship’s capacity will be limited to 40 percent, giving guests ample opportunity for social engagement. Ritzenthaler said that percentage is expected to rise gradually as more successful departures occur.
In summer, sailing trips around the eastern Mediterranean last six to eight nights. One route includes Cyprus and the Greek ports of Mykonos, Rhodes and Santorini, while the other calls at Rhodes and Santorini, as well as Haifa and Jerusalem in Israel.
From St. Maarten, the first of Millennium Celebrity’s two itineraries will call at Aruba, Barbados and Curaçao, while the second will call at St. Lucia, Barbados and Tortola.
Celebrity reports a large number of flights from North America to St. John’s. St. Maarten and Greece – up to 2,500 seats per day. The cruise line offers negotiated airfare starting at $500 from many U.S. gateways to St. Louis. The cost of the trip to St. Maarten starts at $2,000 per person, including airfare.
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