Two Royal Caribbean cruises will resume in June, ending a yearlong hiatus, but passengers 18 and older must test negative for COVID-19 before getting on a ship.
The company's Celebrity Cruises subsidiary said Friday that its Celebrity Millennium ship will relaunch on June 5 from St. Maarten. One itinerary will stop in Aruba, Curacao and Barbados, and another will stop in Tortola, St. Lucia and Barbados.
Celebrity Cruises CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said returning to the Caribbean “marks the measured beginning of the end of what has been a uniquely challenging time for everyone.”
Royal Caribbean Group's namesake line will start a week later with a voyage leaving from Nassau, the Bahamas on the Adventure of the Seas.
In both cases, passengers 18 and older will be required to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of boarding the ship.
With the Caribbean such a popular destination, “It’s not entirely surprising to see both Celebrity and Royal Caribbean finding a way to return to the region,” said Colleen McDaniel, editor or Cruise Critic, a website that reviews cruises. “But it is massive news for the cruise industry, and for the Caribbean itself.”
In the Dutch Caribbean country of St. Maarten, tourism accounts for nearly 80% of all jobs, and nearly 80% of tourists arrive on cruise ships.
Shares of Miami-based Royal Caribbean rose more than 2% Friday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has held up cruise ship operations in U.S. waters since March 2020, although it has laid out guidelines for cruises to resume with conditional sailing certificates.
The Caribbean is a popular destination for American customers. So is Alaska, but the Canadian government has banned cruise ships carrying more than 100 passengers through February 2022, which will stop many ships from visiting Alaska this summer. The ships accounted for most of Alaska's 1.3 million visitors in 2019, before the pandemic.