Norwegian Cruise Line Wants to Resume Sailing on July Fourth with Fully Vaccinated Travelers
Norwegian Cruise Line would require everyone on board to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and would aim to return to 100 percent capacity by September
Norwegian Cruise Line is charting a path back to safe travels, planning to require guests be fully vaccinated before embarking on vacation with them.
The cruise company announced this week that it has updated its safety guidelines to make it so all crew members and guests must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before boarding their ship, now through at least Oct. 31, when they'll reassess plans for the future. COVID-19 tests will also be administered before and after the trip.
According to USA Today, Norwegian's president and CEO Frank Del Rio wrote a letter to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's director, Rochelle Walensky, on Monday that proposed plans to go back to sailing as soon as July under their new guidelines.
Del Rio also added that Norwegian will start with 60 percent capacity on July 4 and increase capacity gradually until they reach 100 percent in September, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is simply taking a cue from the CDC and putting together a comprehensive, robust, scientific-based plan that allows us to operate just like airlines are operating, casinos, resorts, theme parks, ballparks are now operating," reads the letter, per USA Today.
"By requiring full and complete vaccinations of guests and crew, we believe our extensive health and safety standards share in the spirit and exceed the intent of the CDC's existing Conditional Sailing Order ('CSO') to advance public health goals and to protect guests, crew and the communities we visit," Del Rio wrote.
A spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
According to new guidelines posted on its "Travel During COVID-19" page, the CDC said, "People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States," noting "fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19."
The organization noted that a person who is considered fully vaccinated is someone who has gone two weeks since receiving the last recommended dose of a vaccine. The new guidelines state that travelers who are fully vaccinated do not need to be tested before or after they travel, unless it is a requirement set by their destination.
People who have received the COVID-19 vaccine also do not need to quarantine after travel, but are recommended to continue taking COVID-19 precautions seriously by wearing a mask, staying socially distant and washing hands frequently.
In North America, cruise companies halted all sailings in the Caribbean last spring. Individual countries enacted stringent travel restrictions, and the CDC issued a "no-sail order." At the time, several cruise ships across the world had become sources of major COVID-19 outbreaks.
The CDC has not yet announced when cruises will be allowed to resume operation in the U.S.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.