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Troy Warren #travel-all

It had all the fanfare of a brand new ship being christened for its first voyage.

And, in a way, it was a first voyage.

Celebrity Cruises on Saturday became the first cruise line to return to sailing from North America since the pandemic shut down the industry last year, as the Celebrity Millennium set sail from Philipsburg, St. Maarten.

It was both a first for the industry and the first of Celebrity’s fleet to return to sailing, as the Millennium will make ports of call in Aruba, Barbados and Curacao.

It was also the first time Celebrity Cruises has homeported in St. Maarten, where the cruise line now begins sailing Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries through August.

“This is such a significant moment for our company, our industry and the Caribbean. That this day has finally arrived for our guests and our crew is truly special – beyond words, really,” Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, said in a statement. “I am so happy to have our crew back onboard doing what they love and providing amazing vacations and service to our guests. I also am extremely grateful to the leadership of the St. Maarten government for their vision and support to make this moment happen. What an honor to now be the first to enthusiastically say, once again – ‘Welcome Aboard!’”

It might be the first, but it won’t be the last.

As the positive cases of the coronavirus pandemic continue to shrink around the world, and more and more people are being vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is relaxing some harsh restrictions in the industry and, earlier this week, approved a series of test cruises out of U.S. ports.

Celebrity Millennium set sail with enhanced health and safety standards that are the culmination of more than a year of diligent work with public health authorities, government agencies and its Healthy Sail Panel of scientific, medical and public health leaders.

Celebrity also noted it will sail in the Caribbean with a vaccinated crew and at least 95 percent vaccinated guests.

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