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Crystal mandates COVID-19 vaccination for cruisers, extends operating pause

In addition to ocean ships Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, here, the new policy applies to Crystal's river, yacht and expedition vessels
Crystal became the latest cruise operator to require passengers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Travelers will need to provide proof of full inoculation at least 14 days prior to their cruise, meaning both doses of the vaccine if recommended by the manufacturer.

And the crew? 

The crew, who hail from dozens of countries, will be expected to be vaccinated as well when the company resumes sailing, however Crystal said this may not be a viable option for all given their age and/or the availability of vaccines in their home countries.

Crew will be tested for COVID-19 prior to leaving their home location to join the ship and must receive a negative result. They also will take a COVID-19 test at embarkation, quarantine for seven days upon arrival, be tested again at the end of that period and must have a negative result before beginning their duties.

'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,' Crystal Interim President and CEO Jack Anderson said.

'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,' Anderson added. '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 conviction is underscored by Crystal's conversations with customers and travel partners and a recent Cruise Critic survey finding that more than 80% of respondents would cruise if a vaccine were required.

Cruises paused through May and beyond

Crystal said it understands that the widespread availability of vaccines varies according to the distribution plan of each traveler's home country and/or state. As of today, the company has voluntarily paused operations through May for its river fleet, into June for its ocean ships, through Aug. 1 for Crystal Esprit and through August for Crystal Endeavor, allowing most travelers sufficient time to get fully vaccinated before sailing resumes.

The vaccine requirement augments the Crystal Clean+ 4.0 measures, including negative COVID-19 tests for passengers and crew, temperature checks at the terminal prior to boarding, a nimble mask policy, social distancing guidelines, enhanced cleaning/disinfection measures and reduced capacity.

Follows Swan, AQSC, Victory, Saga

Other cruise operators mandating COVID-19 vaccination include American Queen Steamboat Co. and Victory Cruise Lines, for both passengers and crew, Swan Hellenic for crew only and Saga Cruises for passengers only. 

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has expressed its intention all crew be vaccinated before boarding to begin their duties, and Royal Caribbean Group will be requiring that.