U.S. CDC approves Royal Caribbean cruise for June, first since COVID-19

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Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas cruise ship is moored at Marina Bay Cruise Center after a passenger tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during a cruise to nowhere, in Singapore, December 9, 2020. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

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May 26 (Reuters) - The Centers for Disease Control said it had approved one cruise ship from Royal Caribbean (RCL.N) to resume sailing in June, more than a year after U.S. cruising was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Edge will depart from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale on June 26, the cruise company said. It will be the first U.S. departing cruise in a more than a year with paying passengers.

"Cruising from the U.S. is back!" Richard D. Fain, Royal Caribbean Group chairman and chief executive officer said in a statement.

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The CDC said it is committed to working with the cruise industry and ports to resume cruising in a phased approach.

"CDC and the cruise industry agree that the industry has what it needs to move forward and no additional roadblocks exist for resuming sailing by mid-summer," the agency said on Wednesday.

The ship will skip a simulated voyage because it requiring crew and passengers to be vaccinated, the CDC said.

Royal Caribbean said all sailings will depart with vaccinated crew and everyone over 16 must present proof of vaccination against COVID-19. From August 1, all guests ages 12 and older must present proof of vaccination.

The inaugural sailing sets the stage for Royal Caribbean Group to announce additional itineraries, the company added.

The state of Florida, which was later joined by Alaska, sued President Joe Biden’s administration in federal court in April, seeking to overturn the CDC's decision to prevent the U.S. cruise industry from immediately resuming operations. A federal judge sent that lawsuit to mediation last week.

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Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Chris Reese

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