Cruising's Long-Awaited Return
It's been an entire year since cruise lines were forced to suspend operations due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic but many companies are still on standby in terms of the resumption of cruise operations. Here's where the major cruise lines stand as of spring 2021.
Azamara plans to return to service with new health protocols in place on August 28 with cruises from Greece aboard the Azamara Quest, which will be available to fully vaccinated passengers. Meanwhile, Azamara Journey and Azamara Pursuit are suspended until September. The cruise line currently has its sights set on growth without losing focus on its "Destination Immersion" style of cruising.
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line is seeking approval from the CDC to operate as many as four ships from U.S. ports in the near future. The cruise line hopes to sail Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze from Galveston, Carnival Horizon from Miami and Carnival Miracle from Seattle. However, all other Carnival cruises have been canceled through July 30, 2021. "We continue to have constructive discussions with the CDC but still have many questions that remain unanswered. We are working diligently to resume sailing in the U.S. and meet the CDC guidelines," Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy said in a recent statement. "We sincerely appreciate the continued patience and understanding of our guests and travel advisor partners and will share additional information as quickly as we can."
Celestyal Cruises is currently planning to resume operations on May 29, 2021 sailing Celestyal Crystal from Athens (Piraeus), Greece. The seven-night itinerary includes visits to Kusadasi, Rhodes, Santorini, Lavrion, Mykonos, Milos and Crete. The cruise line recently added the 1,800-passenger Costa NeoRomantica to its fleet.
Crystal Cruises recently announced that it plans to restart cruising with new close-to-home Bahamas Escapes beginning July 3, 2021. The cruise line will offer 16 seven-night, round-trip sailings from Nassau on Crystal Serenity. Crystal will also sail 16 seven-night voyages round-trip from Bimini starting July 4, 2021. "Like our guests, we have been eagerly looking forward to the day we can welcome them back on board, and we’re thrilled that this day will come in the Bahamas," Jack Anderson, Crystal’s interim president and CEO said in a statement. "The new Bahamas Escapes cruises will allow travelers to enjoy luxury cruising now, as well as bring much-needed benefits to the local workforce, airlines, restaurants, retailers and hotels for pre- and post-cruise stays." Meanwhile, Crystal plans to offer its first Crystal Expedition Cruise in Iceland as early as July 17, 2021. The cruise line also announced more than a dozen new Caribbean sailings departing roundtrip from St. Maarten this coming August through December.
Cunard Line has extended its pause in operations into May due to "ongoing travel constraints across the world." Sailings aboard Queen Victoria are scheduled to resume May 17, 2021, while Queen Mary 2 voyages have been canceled through May 28, 2021. Queen Elizabeth sailings are currently canceled through June 4, 2021.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line recently announced that it will suspend all cruises through at least June 2021 and has canceled all sailings aboard the Disney Magic with sailings from European ports through September 18, 2021. In addition to a full refund, impacted customers who have already paid for their cruise in full have the option to receive a 125 percent future cruise credit to be used before September 30, 2022.
Holland America Line
Holland America Line recently extended its pause of European and Seattle roundtrip Alaska cruise operations to include departures through June 30, 2021. The cruise line had already extended its operations pause for all departures through April 30, 2021, additionally canceling all sailings of eight or more days calling in the U.S. through November 1, 2021.
MSC Cruises has extended its suspension of sailing from the U.S. through June 30, 2021, a decision that affects MSC Divina, MSC Meraviglia and MSC Armonia. Meanwhile, MSC Grandiosa resumed operations in Europe last year and the brand's newest ship, MSC Virtuosa, will make her maiden voyage from Southampton, U.K., for a mini-cruise on May 20, 2021. MSC Seaside will sail seven-night Mediterranean cruises throughout summer 2021 starting May 1, 2021.
Princess Cruises has canceled all sailings through May 14, 2021, and cruises from Seattle through June 27, 2021. Meanwhile, cruises from Los Angeles, Ft. Lauderdale and Rome have been cut through June 30, 2021, and all sailings of eight or more days to and from the U.S. have been canceled through November 1, 2021.
Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. has confirmed it will resume operations overseas with all three of its brands this summer. Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Jade is scheduled to host seven-day voyages to the Greek Isles from Athens (Piraeus) starting July 25 while Norwegian Joy will offer week-long itineraries from Montego Bay, Jamaica starting August 7. Finally, Norwegian Gem will sail from Punta Cana (La Romana), Dominican Republic beginning August 15. Every passenger and crew member on the initial sailings will be required to have received the full COVID-19 vaccination. Oceania Cruises will resume cruise operations with the 1,250-guest Marina sailing to Scandinavia and Western Europe from August 29, 2021. Regent Seven Seas Cruises announced that Seven Seas Splendor's inaugural season will set sail on September 11, 2021, for an 11-night roundtrip voyage from Southampton, England visiting Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland. After the initial voyage, the Seven Seas Splendor will transition to the Mediterranean before crossing the Atlantic to sail in the Caribbean. Sailings aboard Regent's remaining fleet are suspended throughout September 30, 2021.
P&O Cruises Australia recently extended its temporary pause in cruising until the end of July and canceled all of its sailings to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands for 2021.
French luxury cruise line Ponant was forced to cancel its "bubble expedition" season in New Zealand this past winter, shifting its focus to Australia. The company plans to resume sailings across Europe in June 2021.
Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea
Royal Caribbean International recently extended the suspension of sailings for its global fleet through June 30, 2021, with some exceptions. For example, the cruise line plans to return to cruising on June 12, sailing seven-night roundtrip itineraries from Nassau, the Bahamas visiting Royal Caribbean’s private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay, Grand Bahama Island and Cozumel, Mexico. The cruises are available to adults who have proof they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and travelers under age 18 with negative coronavirus test results. Meanwhile, Celebrity Cruises will return with seven-night roundtrip itineraries from St. Maarten starting June 5 through August aboard Celebrity Millennium. Royal Caribbean Group's Silversea Cruises plans to operate sailings aboard the new Silver Moon from Athens, Greece for fully vaccinated travelers starting June 18 and will begin cruising in the Galapagos Islands June 19.
Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection
The inaugural sailing from Venice to Athens on Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's first ship, Evrima, has been bumped back to July 24, 2021. The ship was previously set to debut in April.
Seabourn is working with the Greek government to develop plans to restart cruises in the Mediterranean with a series of roundtrip sailings out of Athens starting July 3, 2021. Seabourn Quest's next scheduled departure isn't until November 7, 2021. "We’re grateful to the people of Greece for welcoming Seabourn back to the Mediterranean this summer," said Josh Leibowitz, president of Seabourn.
Viking Cruises will begin limited operations in May 2021 with a trio of special roundtrip sailings from Portsmouth, England. The eight-day ocean voyages are available exclusively for U.K. residents, departing May 22, May 29 and June 5, 2021. The cruise line also recently announced its plans to offer a collection of sailings around Bermuda and Iceland beginning in June 2021 and will operate a pair of ships from Malta this summer.
Virgin Voyages has canceled sailings through June 30, 2021. The cruise line's first ship, Scarlet Lady, is currently scheduled to sail three- and four-night cruises from Portsmouth, England from August 6 to August 27, 2021. Virgin's second ship, Valiant Lady, is currently scheduled to enter service this coming November. The company recently announced that it will require vaccinations for all passengers and crew when voyages resume.
Windstar Cruises, which will require a COVID-19 vaccination for all guests, plans to resume cruising in a phased manner beginning June 19 with the Star Breeze in the Caribbean and Wind Star in the Mediterranean. Later, Wind Spirit is scheduled to resume service on July 15 in Tahiti, followed by Wind Surf on August 8 in the Mediterranean. The Star Legend is scheduled to return on September 4 in Northern Europe with Star Pride resuming sailings on November 3 in the Caribbean.