Royal Caribbean Group launched its first cruise from a U.S. port since the suspension of operations over 16 months ago on Saturday, with large smiles and even bigger sighs of relief.
The Celebrity Edge departed Fort Lauderdale for a seven-night cruise, with company chairman and CEO Richard Fain leading the pomp and spectacle.
“We are elated to once again welcome guests onboard, sailing from south Florida, our home,” said Fain in a statement. “Today is a day that brings momentum to our industry and to countless individuals and port communities around the world that are part of our travel and hospitality network.”
Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, expressed her delight at the return to the sea on Saturday.
#HopeFloats. 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. pic.twitter.com/2Pz2uddqOF
— Lisa Lutoff-Perlo (@LisaLutoffPerlo) June 26, 2021
As if becoming the first post-pandemic cruise to depart from a US port wasn’t enough, Captain Kate McCue, the first and still only American woman to command a major cruise ship, is at the helm of the Celebrity Edge. The Celebrity Edge will visit Mexico and the Bahamas on her maiden voyage.
After more than a year of coping with the coronavirus pandemic, which halted nearly all travel, including sailing, Fain recognised the opportunity.
His company, and the entire cruising sector, were on the verge of going out of business when the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prevented them from returning sooner.
“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,” Fain remarked.
Travel, according to Fain, is a potent catalyst for positive change in our environment. Nothing in life is more enlightening than being exposed to different cultures, views, and experiences… There’s nothing like doing it on a Celebrity cruise ship to make it even more exquisite. All that remains is to say welcome aboard.
Added Brian Abel, Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations for Celebrity Cruises: “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.”
With Saturday’s departure, eight of Celebrity Cruises’ 14 ships have announced plans to resume sailing in 2021, and are ready to transport guests to spectacular places such as the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska, and the Galapagos Islands.