“We’re ramping up”: Royal Caribbean works to vaccinate crews as they inch closer to resuming cruises

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. — Royal Caribbean’s “Explorer of the Seas” was at Port Canaveral Wednesday to have her crew vaccinated against COVID-19.

They vaccinated just over 200 employees Wednesday, but Royal Caribbean’s Vice President of World Wide Operations, Capt. Hernan Zini, says they intend to vaccinate more than 4,000 over the next month.

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“We’re ramping up very quickly,” Capt. Zini says. “It’s a big logistical operation, but we know how to do it.”

Capt. Zini says the cruise line has finalized a port agreement with the Canaveral Port Authority.

Once a plan is approved by the state, it’ll be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ahead of an application to begin so-called “trial voyages.

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Port Canaveral is also finalizing agreements with two other cruise lines.

Port Authority CEO Capt. John Murray says there’s still no timeline for resuming cruises there, but vaccination events like Wednesday’s will be the key to moving forward.

“As things evolve, the big component is to get the crews vaccinated, have the two weeks behind them, and they’re ready to go,” Capt. Murray says. “Then it’s just a matter of getting a date, a ship, and having it fully crewed.”

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Royal Caribbean is in ongoing talks with the CDC and the State of Florida. Capt. Zini says he’s optimistic.

“We feel the worst is behind us,” Captain Zini says. We have to keep very focused on the protocols and everything we need to do, but we feel very positive about what is coming.”