(9:10 a.m. EDT) -- Continuing the trend of vaccine mandates, Virgin Voyages announced that it would require all passengers and crew to have a COVID-19 vaccine before sailing when cruises resume in the U.S.
The move makes Virgin Voyages the first mainstream cruise line to implement a vaccine requirement for passengers and crew in the U.S., although cruise inoculation mandates have begun in other countries.
Royal Caribbean will offer cruises on which all crew and passengers older than 16 will be vaccinated starting in May from Israel. Luxury brand Crystal Cruises will also have fully vaccinated sailings, but those won't be sailing in the U.S.; the line has opted to resume in the Bahamas. (Read our ongoing list of lines requiring vaccinations.)
With Virgin, the question of vaccines for children is moot, as the line is adults only. The cruise line has one ship, Scarlet Lady, which debuted in the U.K. last year before the pandemic. Its arrival in Miami has been long anticipated.
"Our goal is to ensure that we're providing the safest travel experience, which means vaccinations for both our crew and sailors. This is a step toward the safe return to sailing and is the right decision for Virgin Voyages," Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin said.
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Like other cruise lines in the U.S., Virgin doesn't have a restart date, as the industry is still awaiting technical guidance to take the next steps in resumption of service from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. The cruise line has canceled sailings through June 30, 2021.
But in an interview on Good Morning America Tuesday, McAlpin said he was encouraged by President Joe Biden's promise to have the vaccine available for all Americans by the end of May.
"We're really encouraged by the latest rollout plans in the May timeframe from the new administration, and we know the future is about vaccinations," he said. "We're an adult-only cruise line, which allows us to offer a highly controlled, safe environment for everyone on board.
"Our business makes us uniquely set up to do this with testing and vaccine travel requirements. There’s a huge pent up demand for travel, and Virgin Voyages will be ready to welcome you aboard soon."