Saturday,  September 18, 2021  4:37 pm

“The feels are the real deal!” Celebrity Cruises returns to service in the U.S.

“The feels are the real deal!” Celebrity Cruises returns to service in the U.S.
Captain Kate McCue (far right) celebrates the relaunch of Celebrity Edge with the Celebrity Cruises/Royal Caribbean executive team. (Instagram/@captainkatemccue)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Celebrity Cruises returned to service in the United States on Saturday (June 26), marking an historical moment for the cruise industry as Celebrity Edge became the first ship to sail from a U.S. port in 15 months.

“Today marks the rebirth of our company and our industry, as our beautiful Celebrity Edge sets sail on a new-luxury experience that will - once again - feed peoples’ love of travel,” wrote Celebrity Cruises’ President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo on Twitter over the weekend, using the hashtag #HopeFloats.

Celebrity Edge set sail from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale at 6.00 p.m. EST on Saturday, setting forth on a seven-night cruise of the Caribbean, at a reduced capacity. The ship is sailing for Mexico and the Bahamas.

Captain Kate McCue, the first and still only American female Captain, had the honour of leading the fleet – and the industry – back into operation

“The feels are the real deal!” wrote Captain McCue on her Instagram, posting a celebratory photo featuring herself and the Royal Caribbean/Celebrity Cruises executive team from Saturday’s relaunch. 

Celebrity Edge was given the green light by the CDC to be the first ship back in the water, having met all new standards for providing a healthy & safe cruise experience for its guests & crew. (Celebrity)

The restart comes after Celebrity, in May, became the first cruise line to get an official go-ahead from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to resume operations in U.S. waters after more than a year of halting operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: "We’re ready": Celebrity Edge gets green light from CDC to resume U.S. cruising in June

The company said Celebrity Edge was given the green light after having met all new standards for providing a healthy cruise experience for its guests and crew.

All crew will be vaccinated and most passengers will have to be.

“All that’s left to say is welcome aboard"

“This is a momentous sailing and one that we have been preparing for a long time. It’s not only a huge honour 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, in a statement. 

“Travel is a powerful catalyst for positive change in our world. There’s nothing more enriching in life than exposing yourself to new cultures, sights, and experiences… and nothing more luxurious than doing it on board a Celebrity cruise ship.”

“All that’s left to say is welcome aboard.”

Celebrity Edge set sail from Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, June 26, 2021. (Celebrity)

Brian Abel, senior vice-president of hotel operations for Celebrity Cruises, noting how the  “significance of this moment is not lost on anyone on our team or the industry.”

“We have longed for this day, not only because it represents a return to service and doing what we love to do most, but because we know that for many the return of cruising is a symbol of the world’s return to normalcy,” Abel said. “For too long, we’ve had to encourage one another with dreams of ‘someday’ returning to being together, again.”

“Now, as the world opens up, and we can gather and enjoy our families and friends on an amazing cruise vacation, ‘someday’ is here.” 

Back in business 

Inaugurated in 2018, Celebrity Edge is famous for its modern-day cruising amenities, with offerings like the Magic Carpet, soaring cantilevered above the sea and transformational accommodations such as two-story villas with private plunge pools. 

Whether it’s sipping cocktails from the sundeck of The Retreat, a private oasis within the ship, or taking in the stunning vistas from the botanical Rooftop Garden, guests are set up to feel more connected with the sea and places they visit.

Celebrity Edge's Rooftop Garden. (Celebrity)

With Saturday’s sailing, eight of the 14 ships within the Celebrity Cruises’ fleet now have plans to return to sailing in 2021 and are ready to take guests to destinations in the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska and the Galapagos, including:

  • The Celebrity Millennium led North America’s return to service as the first ship to sail in the Caribbean on June 5 from St. Maarten.
  • Celebrity Apex, the newest addition to the Celebrity fleet, made her world debut in Athens on June 19, with seven-night sailings to the Greek Isles.
  • Celebrity Silhouette prepares to summer in Southampton, UK beginning July 3 and offer stunning cruises of the British Isles and coastline. 
  • Beginning July 4, the luxurious, state-of-the-art mega-yacht, Celebrity Flora, will resume sailing the magical Galapagos Islands. She will be followed soon after by the award-winning Celebrity Xpedition and intimate 16-passenger Celebrity Xploration on July 24, and Sept. 18, respectively.
  • And, Celebrity’s long-awaited return to the natural wonders of Alaska begin July 23.

Going Beyond 

Celebrity's U.S. comeback comes after the company, in April, revealed details of its newest ship, Celebrity Beyond, which will debut April 27, 2022, in Southampton and call at Bordeaux, Lisbon, Seville, Mallorca and Barcelona.

The Grand Plaza, a transformational place at the centre of Beyond, was designed by Jouin Manku. (Celebrity)

Beyond will be the third ship in Celebrity's "new luxury" Edge Series.

READ MORE: "Forward-thinking design": Celebrity unveils longer & taller ship Celebrity Beyond

Size will be key differentiator with this ship: Beyond will be both longer and taller than its predecessors and many spaces have been redesigned. It also will include 179 more cabins.

Healthy at Sea

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.

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. In Florida, vaccinations are strongly recommended.

Requirements for Non-U.S. guests vary and more details can be found here. Measures will evolve in keeping with current public health standards.

For more information on Celebrity Cruises’ new U.S. summer sailings, click here.  

Stay up to date with all the travel news: subscribe to PAX today!