American Queen & Victory Cruise Lines announce July 1 vaccination requirement
Passengers who plan to cruise with the American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) and Victory Cruise Lines (VCL) will need to have proof of a COVID-19 vaccination for all sailings beginning July 1, 2021.
In addition, the vaccination requirement will apply to shipboard crew members and non-shipboard employees across all seven vessels in both fleets.
“The health and safety of our guests, crew members and partners continues to remain our top priority,” said John Waggoner, CEO and founder of American Queen Steamboat Company in a news release.
“Vaccination requirement for both our guests and crew is the most prudent next step to ensure that we are providing the safest cruising experience possible,” Waggoner said.
All existing health and safety protocols will continue to remain in place following July 1 and until the CDC recommends otherwise. Guests who are unable to receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine prior to their scheduled trip, or who have no intention of receiving the vaccine, should contact the reservations department.
“Our new vaccination requirement, coupled with comprehensive health and safety protocols and risk-free booking policy, will give our loyal guests another added level of assurance to join us as we return to sailing,” Waggoner said.
Established by the operators, this latest protective measure expands upon the enhanced health and safety measures announced in 2020, which includes, but is not limited to, pre-cruise COVID-19 testing of all guests and crew and mask mandate in all public areas where social distancing is not possible. Additionally, AQSC and VCL are continuing to work with leading health advisors, including a partnership with VIKAND Medical Solutions, and under the discretion of the CDC on evolving guidelines to protect guests, crew and the communities the boats visit.
The cruise lines have also offered the following questions and answers for upcoming passengers:
- Why have you issued mandatory vaccines for guests and overnighting employees?
The health and safety of our guests, crew members and partners is our priority. While we are confident in the measures we have taken for itineraries operating from April through June, the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate will further ensure the wellbeing of the individuals who overnight on our vessels. Additionally, protecting the communities we visit on each itinerary is also a priority as the vaccine requirement will help provide an additional safety measure that we are mandating to safeguard these communities.
- Will guests and crew members need to have received both doses of the vaccine prior to boarding?
Yes. If the vaccine that guests and/or crew members are administered requires two doses, they will need to have received both doses before embarking.
- How will you know if guests and crew members have been vaccinated?
While boarding, all guests will be required to present verified documentation of vaccination. Crew members will also be required to present vaccination documentation, either at the time of hiring or boarding a vessel.
- When will the requirement take place?
The mandatory vaccination requirement will begin on all itineraries starting July 1, 2021, and onward.
- The timing for the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility varies from state to state. Will guests have access to vaccinations before they cruise?
The majority of our guests represent the 65-plus population, who are eligible now or will soon be eligible to receive the vaccination. If a guest is not able to receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine prior to their scheduled trip, we will rebook them for a future sailing at no charge.
- Will remaining health and safety protocols remain after the July 1, 2021, vaccination mandate?
Yes. Protocols will remain in place until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends otherwise. These protocols include, but are not limited to:
- 100 percent testing of guests and crew prior to boarding
- Pre-boarding health questionnaire
- Temperature scanning
- Reduced ship capacity
- Mask requirement in all public spaces where social distancing is not possible
- Public spaces undergo continuous anti-microbial disinfection with medical-grade EPA-approved solutions and anti-viral electrostatic fogging
- Re-invented food & beverage concept to replace self-service buffets
- Quarantine rooms
- UVC light added to HVAC
- Crew training on all health and safety preventive measures
- Shore protocols (driver/hotel/concierge)
- On-board licensed nurse
- Reporting (FDA/CDC/local ports)
- COVID-19 insurance
- Does the vaccination requirement apply to anyone boarding the vessels?
No. The current requirement applies only to those remaining overnight on the vessel. Although those that may be boarding the vessels and not staying overnight will undergo our mandated health and safety protocols. In addition, all drivers for shore side excursions will also be vaccinated.
- How can you be sure that every crew member will be vaccinated before July 1?
Per the CDC recommendations, Phase 1c vaccination rollout includes maritime transportation workers. We have no reason to believe that they will not have access to both doses of the vaccine by that time.
- With vaccine mandate in place July 1, why sail prior? Isn’t this an added risk?
The health and safety of our guests, crew members and partners is our top priority. While we are confident in the measures we have taken for itineraries operating from April through June, the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate will further ensure the wellbeing of the individuals who overnight on our vessels.
To date, we have received strong interest for our April through June itineraries from guests who are confident in our current measures. Additionally, a good number of these guests will have had access to the vaccine prior. This, combined with our belief that crew will be vaccinated per the CDC recommendation Phase 1c vaccination rollout includes maritime transportation workers, further ensures our confidence to cruise safely.
- What is the oversight of the boat by the CDC, FDA, Coast Guard and etc.?
We are working with the CDC, FDA and Coast Guard to ensure ongoing communication and compliance in order to safely resume operations.