Port Everglades welcomed its newest cruise ship to call South Florida home on Thursday.
Miami-based Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of The Seas arrived just after 7 a.m. The ship is the cruise line’s first Quantum Ultra Class that will be using the Broward County location as its homeport.
Odyssey of The Seas will hold its first passenger cruise on July 3rd and will sail on six- and eight-night cruises through the Caribbean through 2022. The German-built ship was scheduled to set sail last fall, but COVID pandemic delays got in the way.
"It is one of the largest vessels on the water," said Port Everglades director Jonathan Daniels. "You’re looking at 1,138 feet and 169,000 gross tons."
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Six of the company’s ships will begin sailing from ports in Florida and Texas, beginning with a July 2 cruise out of PortMiami on the Freedom of the Seas.
The Symphony of the Seas will sail from Miami starting on Aug.14. Two other ships will sail out of Port Canaveral starting in August.
“We’re hoping that we’re returning to good times again, where we can see a robust cruise industry back," said Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness. "Many of our residents who depend on this industry will be back to work.”
All Royal Caribbean crew members will be vaccinated against COVID-19, and the company said guests are strongly recommended to be fully vaccinated. Guests who aren't vaccinated or are unable to verify that they are vaccinated will have to undergo testing and follow other protocols that will be "announced at a later date," the company said.
Royal Caribbean said 90% of vacationers booking with them are either vaccinated or planning to get vaccinated in time for their cruise.
The federal government shut down all cruises in March of 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, the state of Florida filed a lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over its no-sail order.
“It’s an exciting time, but it’s one that we’re still cautious about," said Daniels. "We’re making sure that everything’s in place so that we don’t end up in a situation where we have to shut down again."