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Celebrity Cruises has been approved by the CDC to be the first major cruise line to sail from U.S. waters in over a year. Its new luxury Celebrity Edge will depart from Ft. Lauderdale on Jun. 26, 2021, for a seven-night cruise in the Caribbean.

Having met the CDC’s standards for providing a healthy cruise experience for its guests and crew, Celebrity Edge will sail an Eastern and Western Caribbean itinerary, helmed by Captain Kate McCue, the first American female captain.

Following this announcement, Celebrity Cruises has plans for eight of the 15 ships in its fleet to return to the waters this summer. Celebrity Edge will be the third ship to take to the water, following Celebrity Millennium in St. Maarten on Jun. 5, 2021 and the company’s new Celebrity Apex debuting in Athens, Greece on Jun. 19, 2021.

“For the past 15 months our conversations with friends and loved ones about seeing the world have been accompanied by the phrase ‘someday.’ I’m beyond proud and excited to say that day has arrived,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, CEO and President, Celebrity Cruises, in a press release statement. “The power of travel has a way of healing our souls as we connect with cultures, sights, and experiences that bring greater joy and renewed energy to our lives. Nothing compares to these experiences at sea and now the wonder of these journeys returns. We’ve been preparing for this day for months and, on behalf of all of us at Celebrity Cruises, we’re ready and we can’t wait to welcome our guests aboard once again!”

Celebrity Millennium will be the first ship in the industry to sail the Caribbean, as well as the first in the fleet to sail again with guests, following its return to service on Jun. 5, 2021. Its itinerary will visit Aruba, Curacao & Barbados over seven nights.

The new Celebrity Apex sailing from Athens, Greece on Jun. 19, 2021, will mark a historic return to Greece for the cruise line, which was founded there 33 years ago. It will sail seven-night itineraries visiting the Greek Isles.

Celebrity Silhouette, which underwent a transformation as part of the cruise line’s $500 million ‘revolution’ program, will summer in Southampton, offering UK residents specially designed cruises of the British Isles.

While the cruise line’s mega-yacht Celebrity Flora will resume sailing the Galapagos Islands, beginning Jul. 4, 2021, followed soon after by Celebrity Xpedition on Jul. 24, 2021, and the 16-passenger Celebrity Xploration on Sep. 18, 2021. Celebrity Cruises has also announced its return to Alaska beginning Jul. 23, 2021.

“Yesterday’s announcement that the CDC gave Celebrity Cruises approval to sail out of the U.S. truly demonstrates how a resilient community came together to have their voices heard,” said Brad Tolkin, co-chairman/CEO, World Travel Holdings, in a press release statement. “My brother Jeff and I have both worked in travel for more than 30 years and this is the first time we’ve seen a concerted effort by such a diverse group of organizations and individuals in support of the cruise industry. We emerged stronger after 9/11 and the most recent recession, and know that if history repeats itself, the industry will thrive on the other side of this. The travel advisor community better buckle up because the demand is going to be deafening.”

All Celebrity ships will sail with a vaccinated crew, U.S. guests ages 16 and older must be fully vaccinated and, as of Aug. 1, 2021, all U.S. guests ages 12 and older must be fully vaccinated. Celebrity Cruises has established new health and safety measures in accordance with guidance from public health authorities, government agencies, and its own team of health and safety experts to provide guests with peace of mind.

“After a devastating 2020, where travel advisors lost significant commissions from cruise business – we are counting this as a win,” said Michelle Fee, CEO and founder, Cruise Planners, in a press release statement. “We are so glad to overcome these huge hurdles with the CDC’s provisional allowing the test cruises to start and continue to get back to business and focus on selling travel and Celebrity Cruises to sail with vaccinated crew and guests.”

Cruise Planners reports that its outlook for 2022 departures are already close to 60 percent higher than its 2019 levels. “We’re starting to hear from cruise passengers, vaccinated consumers are excited to get back to sea and families will be watching the test sailings for cruise lines that cater to multi-gen travelers,” added Fee. “Once the test cruises sail, then we know paying passengers will follow, something the entire cruise community has been waiting for.”

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