Royal Caribbean (RCL -5.17%) became the first cruise ship operator to receive approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to resume sailing. One ship will be allowed to depart from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on June 26.
In accordance with its guidelines, the CDC is allowing Royal Caribbean to resume sailing because it requires all of its crew and any passenger 12 or older to be vaccinated.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH -4.56%) requires passengers 16 years of age and older to to be vaccinated, while Carnival (CCL -5.55%) (CUK -6.00%) says it is monitoring the situation, but has called the CDC's framework "unworkable" and notes no other industry operates under such restrictions.
Royal Caribbean's Celebrity Edge will become the first cruise ship to sail in more than a year from the U.S. after the CDC forbade any vessel from leaving port under its stringent guidelines.
Florida, which is one of the industry's main ports of call, and Alaska, an important tourist destination, sued the CDC over its "arbitrary" guidelines. The case, though, was sent to arbitration.
The other cruise lines may end up requiring everyone be vaccinated if they want to salvage the summer sailing season, which tends to be a family-oriented one. Yet if they are not able to take unvaccinated children on board, passengers may balk at booking a voyage.
"The industry has what it needs to move forward and no additional roadblocks exist for resuming sailing by mid-summer," the CDC said Wednesday.
Royal Caribbean said this first voyage lays the groundwork for other itineraries to come.