Crystal Cruises has announced a plan to require all passengers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at least 14 days before they take a voyage on their ships — and passengers will have to provide proof.
“The company has voluntarily paused operations through May 2021 for its River fleet, into June for its Ocean ships, through August 1 for Crystal Espirit and through August for Crystal Endeavor, allowing most travelers sufficient time to get fully vaccinated before Crystal’s resumption of sailing,” the company said in a statement.
The company said it hopes by the time it resumes operations, vaccines will be widely available to Americans.
“We are encouraged by the progress being made with the COVID-19 vaccines and what this means for our Crystal Family and the travel industry as a whole as we eagerly look forward to exploring the world again,” said Crystal’s interim president and CEO, Jack Anderson.
The company says it offers “the world-renowned Crystal Experience … an unwavering, unparalleled standard of excellence and luxury across four distinct cruising options.”
“We know that peace of mind is the greatest luxury; and the vaccine requirement is simply the best way to ensure the safest possible Crystal Experience for all on board. This sentiment is underscored by conversations with our guests and travel partners and a recent Cruise Critic survey of cruisers that revealed that more than 80 percent of respondents would cruise if a vaccine were required.”
The crew will also be required to have the vaccine.
“When vaccines are widely available, they will be a requirement of employment for crew which must be completed at least 14 days prior to service,” Anderson said.
Crystal is the fourth company to announce it will require vaccines for its passengers. American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines both did so earlier this month, as did the U.K.-based Saga Cruises.
Last November, a top travel industry association said it was in the final stages of developing a digital passport for international travelers so they can prove they’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19.
The International Air Transport Association said that the passport could be key to saving the tourism industry.
“Testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures,” association CEO Alexandre de Juniac said in a statement obtained by The Hill. “The second key is the global information infrastructure needed to securely manage, share and verify test data matched with traveler identities in compliance with border control requirements.”
For travelers who receive the vaccine – when one becomes available – proof will be linked to their official passports. While no country now requires such proof, industry experts say that’s likely coming.
Airlines for America, a trade association that represents major carriers, also has not declared that flyers will need proof of a vaccine before flying, saying U.S. airlines are “committed to restoring service in a manner that prioritizes the safety and wellbeing of our passengers and employees.”
And in December, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said “immunity passports” for Americans to prove they have taken the COVID-19 vaccine might help the country get “back to a new normal.”
Dr. Thomas Frieden told CBS that “done right, immunity passports could be one of a series of things that could help us get to a new normal as soon as possible.”