Life Onboard the First Cruise from the U.S. in 15 Months
Looking over the lounge chairs on Celebrity Edge’s Resort Deck, it feels just like any other sea day.
After three days onboard this first cruise from the U.S. in 15 months, travelers have fallen back into routine. For some, this means enjoying the ocean breezes at the midship pool on Deck 14 or the lawn games at the Rooftop Garden on Deck 16 aft. For others, this entails learning more about dolphins or pirates at one of Celebrity’s Beyond the Podium lectures in the main theater.
Yes, life onboard Celebrity Edge, is in full swing. Sailing at just 36% capacity, with 98% of passengers and 100% of crew vaccinated, this sailing provides a look at what it is like to cruise again following the shutdown.
As the first revenue sailing for a major ocean cruise line from the U.S., all eyes are on Celebrity Edge.
Of course, the cruise executives know this, so they are prepared and ready to ensure that this sailing is a success. Fellow cruisers feel the same way, wanting our favorite mode of travel to make a swift and mighty comeback. Boarding the ship, we were prepared to be flexible and accept any changes that were needed to show the world that cruising is back.
What’s Different About This First Cruise
To ensure the health and safety of guests and crew alike, Celebrity Cruises has implemented a number of protocols.
Primarily, all adults over 16 years of age must be fully vaccinated to sail on this ship. Prior to the cruise, all cruisers were also required to complete a pre-cruise check-in that came with an assigned boarding time. Unlike pre-pandemic times, cruisers must adhere to these boarding times. Luckily, we were among the first group to check-in at the terminal at 12 pm.
Further, Celebrity Cruises requires passengers to complete an online health questionnaire 24 hours prior to boarding.
Embarkation day in Terminal 25 at Port Everglades did look a bit different. Cruisers were asked to voluntarily furnish their vaccination cards as part of the check-in process. In addition, all who boarded the cruise were required to wear masks in the terminal.
Even with a few additional steps in place, the embarkation process was quick and efficient. Within less than 20 minutes, we were ready to head up the gangway to begin this milestone event. Along with cheering crew members, the one and only Captain Kate was there to greet us.
For cruisers, the mask wearing ends once stepping onboard the ship. Being fully-vaccinated on a cruise certainly has its perks. Though, all staff are still required to wear masks.
Other updates include service in the casual restaurants. Similar to luxury cruise lines, the staff at the cruise ship’s buffet, the Oceanview Café, are now serving guests all food items.
Additional sanitation measures are also in place throughout the vessel. Whether it is wiping down a screen at the photo gallery or sanitizing hands before entering the theater, everyone is doing their part.
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Perhaps one of the biggest differences is shore excursions and the ability to go ashore. Celebrity Cruises is continually updating its protocols based on local health and safety regulations. Thus, cruisers may (or may not) be allowed off the cruise ship for private exploration.
In fact, for this sailing, the policies have changed a few times now. Currently, cruisers are allowed to take private tours in Costa Maya, Mexico and Nassau, Bahamas. Although, in Cozumel, Mexico, cruisers are only allowed off the ship on cruise line curated tours. Further, masks may be required when going ashore. The cruise line’s website provides a breakdown of the requirements for each port of call.
How Sailing on Celebrity Edge is the Same
While there are some small differences, this sailing on Celebrity Edge feels just like our cruise on the ship over two years ago. The cruiser director staff are hosting several activities and events. These include not only trivia, but other events that were noticeably absent on Royal Caribbean’s first North America sailing on Adventure of the Seas just a couple weeks ago. There is still a sail away party, a silent disco, and all the other popular cruise activities.
All of the shops are open, and the casino is ready to take your money.
The same can be said for the bars and lounges. All of these venues are open and ready to mix up a signature cocktail, including the lively Martini Bar.
As far as we can tell, there is no formal social distancing on the ship. Cruisers are allowed to sit at the bars. There are also no seats blocked off in restaurants or entertainment venues. This is in stark contrast to what we encountered on Adventure of the Seas about two weeks ago.
Speaking of entertainment, Celebrity Edge is offering a variety of main theater shows occurring at 7pm and 9pm each evening with no reservations needed. These acts range from headliners and comedians to production shows.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this first cruise from the U.S. on Celebrity Edge is that this is a very normal cruise experience.
Everything that we love and expect from a cruise vacation is back. From the amazing food, impeccable service, and top-notch entertainment and onboard programing, Celebrity Cruises has successfully relaunched. We have all adjusted quickly to the small changes that are in place on this voyage. Yet, they have in no way impacted the overall cruise experience.
Thankfully, we are happy to report that “Someday is Here”! Hopefully, this will be the first of many cruises restarting from the United States this summer.