Last updated: May 6, 2021
How it started: On March 13, 2020, cruise lines announced a voluntary 30-day suspension of sailing, in addition to the No Sail Order commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), followed by multiple extensions.
How it’s going: What began as one of the most unprecedented moments in the history of the cruise industry has now developed into an optimistic comeback and renewed appreciation for the good that travel brings.
In October of 2020, the CDC’s No Sail Order was replaced by its Framework for Conditional Sailing, allowing cruise lines to follow strict requirements and move toward a return, in addition to the implementation of heightened protocols, like Royal Caribbean International’s Healthy Sail Panel recommendations.
Cruise lines continue to adapt their sailing plans to these measures with diligence and enthusiasm and are beginning to announce sailings dates for a return to the sea. Want to be prepared to sail too? Here is everything you need to know about the restart of cruising.
When will cruise lines restart sailings?
The following cruise lines have announced official return-to-sea dates with sailings to select destinations:*
Royal Caribbean International
In December 2020, Royal Caribbean resumed cruising internationally, sailing the Quantum of the Seas roundtrip from Singapore. While you can currently book 2022 departures on RCI ships, the company is planning to resume cruising in June 2021, starting with short round-trip sailings from Nassau, Bahamas to the company’s private island at Coco Cay on the Vision of the Seas and the Adventure of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean has also announced plans for cruises in the Mediterranean, moving the new Odyssey of the Seas to Haifa, Israel. However, as of April 9th, 2021 Royal Caribbean has not yet announced when it will continue departures from North American ports.
With stylish decor and luxury appeal, Celebrity Cruises is popular with both new and returning cruisers. Like other cruise lines, Celebrity announced a suspension of sailings in March 2020 and extended its suspension several times since. In March 2021, Celebrity Cruises announced it will begin to offer 2021 sailings around Greece and Cyprus, however, all passengers and crew must be fully vaccinated.
In May 2021, Celebrity Cruises announced that they will resume sailings for international passengers to the Galapagos Islands from July 4th onboard the Celebrity Flora, with subsequent sailings on July 24th and September 18th onboard the Celebrity Xpedition and Celebrity Xploration, respectively. They will set sail with a fully vaccinated crew, all adults over 18 must be fully vaccinated, and all children must show a negative PCR test.
While Celebrity Cruises has not announced plans to reopen sailings from North America, they have announced they will sail the Celebrity Millenium from the Caribbean island of St. Maarten starting in June 2021 and there is the possibility of more Caribbean itineraries via Bermuda or Bahamas restarting in summer 2021.
Norwegian Cruise Line
As of April 2021, Norwegian Cruise Lines has announced that they will resume sailings starting July 25th with the Norwegian Joy, the Norwegian Gem, and the Norwegian Jade. NCL has chosen to homeport their ships in Greece for Mediterranean itineraries, as well as the Dominican Republic and Jamaica to bring their “Freestyle Cruising” experience to the Caribbean and Europe.
In addition to new onboard precautions, they will be operating with a fully vaccinated crew, and all guests will also be required to demonstrate proof of vaccination before boarding. While Norwegian Cruise Line has not yet announced a date to continue their popular sailings out of North American ports like Seattle, Miami, and Hawaii, they are clearly making preparations for the resumption of cruising soon.
Holland America Line
As of May 2021, Holland America Line has announced that they will resume ocean-going sailings from Piraeus (Athens) Greece from August 6th onboard the Eurodam. Itineraries range from 7-14 days and will visit the Greek Isles, Greece, Israel, and Albania with bookings opening on May 6th. Cruisers can choose from Idyllic Greek Isles, Ancient Wonders, Adriatic Allure, or combine cruises for a 14-day Collector’s Voyage, and all passengers and crew must be fully vaccinated.
While Holland America Lina has not yet announced departures from North American Ports, they will soon announce additional Mediterranean sailings throughout the fall season onboard the Eurodam including ports in Greece as well as Italy.
As of April 2021, Crystal Cruises has announced that they will resume ocean-going sailings from July 3rd onboard the Crystal Serenity with over 30 all-new Bahamian seven-night cruise itineraries with round trips on offer from the sunny cruise ports of Nassau and Bimini. They have also indicated they will offer luxury cruises on the Crystal Symphony, beginning in August 2021, as their first cruise ship to homeport in Antigua.
While 2021 European ocean and river-going sailings are open for reservations, including sailing on their newest Crystal Endeavor ship out of Iceland starting this July, their continuation of departures from North American ports have not been announced.
Which US cruise ports are open for sailing?
With the latest announcement from the CDC, many US cruise ports are preparing to welcome cruisers back to their docks once again. Discover which cruise lines and sailings are now departing from American ports.
Which types of cruise vacations are being booked now?
These days, guests are going bigger and bolder to make up for vacations missed, and we don’t blame them. The following booking trends continue to gain momentum as cruise lines head back to sea, with sailing reservations available as far out as 2023.
- Guests are opting for an upgraded cruise experience by booking a verandah suite or higher to enjoy a breezy ocean view and an overall premium experience.
- Many river cruise itineraries are in high demand as far out as 2023 with guests eying European itineraries well into the future.
- Guests are locking in further out sailings now to destinations like Europe, Alaska, Asia, Australia and New Zealand to save their spot for a longer bucket-list vacation.
- Guests who want to travel soon are booking shorter-in trips a little closer to home in the sunny Caribbean to soak in some Vitamin D.
- Guests are feeling extra-adventurous with their next vacation, with Oceania Cruises’ 2023 Around the World in 180 Days cruise and Silversea Cruises’ new 2023 world cruise, “South Side Story: All the World’s a Stage” selling out in just one day.
Cruise lines continue to announce new sailings and bucket-list destinations that you can book right now and set sail as soon as this June. Stay up to date with our latest new sailings announcements.
How have cruises changed?
Cruise lines are offering a broader selection for travelers to choose from:
- Longer journeys. World cruises, month-long cruises, cruises spanning multiple continents, or multiple iconic rivers have been added to the selection and are in high demand.
- Updated activities and excursions. Cruise lines have more outdoor options and enhanced excursions from trusted tour operators and activity partners.
- Leveling up all-inclusive pricing options. Several popular cruise lines such as Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, and more are making all-inclusive packages available to offer guests more value and hassle-free vacation.
- Embracing smart technology. Onboard innovations like Princess Cruises’ wearable OceanMedallion™ device and Royal Caribbean’s Royal iQ app offer guests a more personal and streamlined cruise experience than ever before, with the OceanMedallion not only elevating the cruise experience but serving as an efficient tool for creating a more limited-contact experience while elevating the best parts of cruising.
The CDC and Cruise lines are taking steps to offer guests peace of mind on board:
- Accommodating limited guest volumes. In accordance with CDC guidance, many ships will sail with capped guest capacities to improve social distancing.
- Expanding fleets. Many cruise lines have announced brand-new ships to meet the pent-up demand and accommodate higher guest space ratios while offering guests a unique and modern cruise experience, with a record-breaking 15 new ships added in 2021.
- Establishing conditions for sailing. In March of 2021, the first cruise lines to restart announced they would return with fully vaccinated crew and guests. In the US, the CDC has said that crew and port personnel must be vaccinated, and it is recommended for passengers. In Europe, there is a requirement for passenger vaccination. Some cruise lines that have announced their return currently have specific conditions to board including a fully vaccinated crew, vaccinated guests, and a negative PCR test 72-hours prior to boarding.
- Implementing further measures. In addition to existing cleanliness measures, cruise lines have quickly adapted by implementing new cruise ship health and safety measures and protocols to encourage peace of mind at sea.
Discover our featured deals on some of the first cruises to sail again and see what cruises are now sailing.
*Please note, conditions to board vary per cruise line and per country of residence. All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check government advisories before scheduling trips.