Before resuming U.S. cruising from Seattle, Norwegian Cruise Line reiterated its commitment to sailing, with 100 percent of its guests and crew members fully vaccinated.
The line marked Norwegian Encore’s debut on seven-day Alaska tours from the city with the Great Cruise Comeback panel attended by cruise and government officials – along with Dr. Scott Gottlieb, chairman of NCL’s SailSAFE Global Health and Wellness Council and former commissioner for the US Food and Drug Administration.
Unsurprisingly, the panel focused on health and safety issues related to COVID-19.
When asked how NCL is reassuring guests, Frank Del Rio, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings said, “This is the matter of the hour and I think Dr. Scott Gottlieb [here] is a symbol of how seriously we take health and safety.
“It’s not a slogan for us. We mean what we say and we say what we mean, ”he said. As early as the middle of March, we committed ourselves not to commence cruise operations until everyone on board our ships has been 100 percent vaccinated. “
“It’s about doing the right thing. You know about the feud we have with the state of Florida, ”he added, referring to Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ July 13 injunction seeking to repeal state law prohibiting companies from doing so to document a vaccination status.
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“It gives you an idea that we’re taking it seriously,” he said. “Nothing stands in the way of protecting our guests, our crew and the communities we visit – including politics.
Del Rio’s comments were reinforced by Gottlieb, who said it was clear from the start that Del Rio was intent on “creating the safest requirements for consumers”.
“That was found in the process,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Frank say, ‘It’s the right thing.'”
The panelists also discussed the positive economic impact of cruise lines on the destinations they visit.
“Simply put, I think you all know the cruise industry is an economic accelerator around the world,” said Tom Norwalk, President and CEO of Visit Seattle. “In a normal year it brings over 1.2 million passengers to our region and over the course of the season it has an estimated impact of 900 million US dollars not only on the city center, but on the entire region.”
“It has been a long journey for all of us, and I am incredibly grateful for the loyalty and cooperation of our guests, team members, crew and partners around the world in enabling us to achieve this momentous milestone,” said NCL President and Chief Operating Officer Harry Sommer.
Norwegian Encore sails from Seattle and will call at Icy Strait Point, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan.
Other panellists included Stephen Metruck, executive director of Port of Seattle; Andrea DeMarco, Senior Vice President, ESG, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications; and Steve Moeller, Senior Vice President – Commercial Development, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
Norwegian Cruise Line resumed cruising with Norwegian Jade on July 25th on seven-day cruises to the Greek islands from Athens.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ health and safety program SailSAFE requires all crew members and guests to be fully vaccinated in order to travel by October 31, 2021.
The company also operates Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which also require full vaccinations of all guests and crew members.