ATHENS -- With people eager to travel again, even on cruise ships that were said to be super-spreaders of COVID-19 when the pandemic broke out early in 2020, another liner plans to sail out of Greece.
Silversea Cruises plans to sail the Eastern Mediterranean from Greece this June with its newest ship, Silver Moon, in a fully vaccinated environment for protection, reported SeaTrade Cruise News.
Silversea will require all embarking crew and passengers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The requirement will apply to all its voyages globally, apart from those departing from Australia, for which the protocol is still under evaluation, the report said.
Starting June 18, Silver Moon will offer 10-day Eastern Mediterranean itineraries from Greece with calls at Santorini, Paros, Mykonos and Crete, as well as Haifa (Israel) and Cyprus. The new round-trips will be unveiled and open for general sale April 15.
'In recent months, we have seen the cruise industry resume responsibly in destinations around the world and we are delighted to announce these new inaugural sailings for our flagship,' Silversea President and CEO Roberto Martinoli said.
“Vaccinations will play a critical role in ensuring the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit, which we prioritize above all else,” he added, the industry counting on vacations and pent-up demand to bring a boom again.
Earlier, Norwegian Cruise Line said it would put three ships back in the water with plans to resume sailings in the Greek islands and the Caribbean in late July and August.
The cruise line expects that the limited re-openings will attract many Americans, even if the ships can't stop at U.S. ports. The company said that all passengers and crew members will need to be fully vaccinated and tested for COVID-19 before boarding.
Celebrity Cruises will come to Greece starting June 19, with the New Democracy government planning to open to tourists on May 14, those who can show proof of vaccination or a negative Coronavirus test.
Celebrity will begin with seven-night trips around Greece and the Aegean Sea, said Travel and Leisure. Departing from Athens, cruises will stop in Mykonos, Rhodes, and Santorini in Greece before continuing onto Limassol, Cyprus, and Haifa and Jerusalem, Israel.
Passengers and crew members older than 18 must be vaccinated against COVID-19 before they board the ship. Those younger than 18 will have to present negative PCR test results before boarding.
As part of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises will follow the health and safety measures laid out by the Healthy Sail Panel, including frequent disinfecting and strict vaccination and testing requirements, the report added.
Celebrity Cruises was founded in 1988 by a Greek family and more than 70 percent of its marine officers hail from Greece.
"Celebrity Apex is such an exquisite ship and for her to finally begin sailing in the beautiful Aegean, where it all began for our fleet, and after so long away, is incredibly meaningful," Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said in a statement. "This is a very special homecoming for Celebrity Cruises made possible with the strong collaboration of the Greek government."
Greek Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis said, “I am proud to be welcoming Celebrity Cruises back to its Greek roots on this special occasion of our Country’s independence bicentennial and am eager for travelers to return to the unforgettable experiences of all of our destinations on one of the world’s newest ships.”
He added, “The positive economic impact that tourism brings to our country cannot be underestimated and I am very happy Celebrity Cruises is playing an important role in rebuilding this important economic pillar,” Cruise Industry news said.
“It is such an honor for me to Captain the newest ship in the Celebrity fleet. I have been anxiously awaiting the day when I can welcome our first guests onboard this magnificent vessel and it will be a very proud moment for me to do this in my homeland,” Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis also told the site.
Celestyal Cruises said the 2021 program would restart on May 29, with the departure of the 7-night cruise Idyllic Aegean" from the port of Piraeus on May 29, adding to the hopes for a strong tourism summer.
The Celestyal Crystal will take passengers to the Turkish coastal resort of Kusadası, then to the Greek islands of Rhodes, Santorini, Myconos (after a stopover at Lavrion Port), Melos and then Crete.
The company added that it will announce a full schedule when more countries reopen their tourism industries. Until then, Celestyal Crystal will offer 3-night or 4-night cruises from Lavrio on Wednesdays and Piraeus on Saturdays.