Note: Since this article was originally published, Celebrity Edge has officially departed Port Everglades. This makes her the first major cruise ship to return to sailing from the United States.
“This is a momentous sailing and one that we have been preparing for a long time. It’s not only a huge honor to be the first ship back in the water, leading the industry in the long-awaited return to U.S.-based cruising, it’s also an incredible achievement and testament to the tireless efforts of our shoreside team and onboard crew,” said Richard Fain, Chairman of the Royal Caribbean Group, the parent company of Celebrity Cruises.
Celebrity Edge left on a seven-day cruise to Mexico and The Bahamas. Onboard are roughly 1,200 passengers, with about 98% being vaccinated.
Our original article — written prior to departure with details about the cruise — is below.
For the first time since March 2020, a cruise ship will depart the United States with paying passengers. Celebrity Edge is set to head out this evening from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.
The trip marks the end of roughly 15 months that the entire industry has been on hold due to the health crisis. While cruises have returned in other parts of the world — including nearby ports like Nassau and St. Maarten — they have yet to leave the U.S.
In the weeks ahead, multiple ships across several lines are scheduled to restart operations, However, it is Celebrity Cruises that will make history as the absolute first ship to start back sailing.
So what time does the ship leave? Who is onboard? And how can you watch the sailing? All the details are below.
What Time Does Celebrity Edge Depart?
The first cruise from the United States is set to depart at 6 p.m. Eastern. While there are special events happening earlier in the day, the actual sailing doesn’t begin until early evening.
Celebrity Edge is docked at Terminal 25 at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.
What Are the Details of the Cruise?
This sailing is a 7-day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Costa Maya, Cozumel, and then Nassau, before returning back to Florida.
According to CruiseIndustryNews.com, there are 1,195 passengers on the ship, or roughly 41% of capacity. Of those passengers, there are reportedly two unvaccinated adults and 24 unvaccinated children. That gives a vaccination rate of 97.8% of all passengers. All of the crew is said to be vaccinated.
Celebrity has long planned to sail a fully-vaccinated cruise (considered 95%+ passengers sailing with the shot), which is one reason why it is the first ship back. Fully-vaccinated cruises are able to skip simulated test voyages, as well as have fewer restrictions on the ship regarding masking and distancing.
However, Florida law says that businesses cannot require proof of vaccination. Instead, cruise lines have moved toward strongly recommending vaccination on cruises from the state and requesting the information from passengers, but not requiring it. In this case, the vaccination rate is still well above the 95% threshold.
If a passenger is eligible for the vaccine but unvaccinated or refuses to show proof, then they will have to undergo testing before boarding. As well, there will be more restrictions on ships for passengers without the shot.
How Can I Watch the Ship Sailaway?
There are multiple ways to watch Celebrity Edge depart the first cruise from the United States.
If you are in the area, Port Everglades suggests two spots: Harbor Beach or Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park. Both spots should provide a great view of the ship heading out to sea.
If you aren’t in Fort Lauderdale, then you can join in virtually.
Port Everglades plans to stream the departure using Facebook Live on the port’s Facebook page.
Another way to watch is via PortEvergladesWebcam.com. This site features a round-the-clock view of the cruise port. Tune in early to see the ship docked or you can wait until sailaway to watch her depart.
What Other Details Should I Know?
This cruise is not only important because it is the first to depart from the United States. It will also be watched closely to see how new protocols — including highly-vaccinated cruises — perform to keep passengers safe.
So far the return to sailing in North America has shown to be rocky. Another Celebrity ship had two vaccinated passengers test positive. One Royal Caribbean ship (a sister line to Celebrity) had eight crew members test positive, and just days ago another Royal Caribbean ship had two unvaccinated children return positive tests.
Still, cases have seemingly been contained thanks to new protocols regarding testing and tracing on the ship. But with concerns growing about variants of the virus, there’s little doubt that the world will be watching.