There’s no certainty as to when cruises will be permitted to depart again from U.S. ports. But one thing is clear — Norwegian Cruise Line will begin sailing again in July.
The good news: Norwegian Cruise Line has announced summer sailings onboard three of its ships. The bad news: You’ll have to fly to Europe or the Caribbean in order to jump on board.
The company announced new itineraries in Europe and the Caribbean this morning, with the first voyage set for July 25. For all sailings prior to October 31, Norwegian will require all guests and crew to be fully vaccinated.
Some highlights of the new announcement:
Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Joy, and Norwegian Gem will be the first of Norwegian’s 17-ship fleet to welcome passengers onboard after more than a year of shutdown.
Norwegian Jade will kick things off with seven-day Greek Islands cruises from Piraeus (Athens) beginning July 25. The itinerary includes calls in Rhodes, Mykonos, Corfu, Santorini, Olympia, and Heraklion, with a final departure scheduled for November 7.
The line will also add two new homeports in the Caribbean. Beginning August 7 and running through to a final departure on October 9, Norwegian Joy will sail from Montego Bay, Jamaica to the line’s private destination Harvest Caye in Belize, along with Cozumel and Ocho Rios.
Norwegian Gem will make its home in Punta Cana (La Romana), Dominican Republic, beginning August 15, for a series of seven-night cruises visiting Barbados and St. Lucia. The last scheduled departure out of Punta Cana is October 10.
“Over a year after we initially suspended sailings, the time has finally come when we can provide our loyal guests with the news of our great cruise comeback,” said Norwegian Cruise Line’s President and Chief Executive Officer Harry Sommer.
“We have been working diligently towards our resumption of operations, focusing on the guest experience with health and safety at the forefront. The growing availability of the COVID-19 vaccine has been a game-changer. The vaccine, combined with our science-backed health and safety protocols, will help us provide our guests with what we believe will be the healthiest and safest vacation at sea.”
Yesterday, parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings — which operates the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands — presented a plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) seeking permission to begin offering cruises from U.S. ports with fully vaccinated guests and crew by July.
The request came just a couple of days after the CDC released more guidance on what it will take for cruise ships to operate again from U.S. ports. The industry, led by trade group Cruise Lines International Association, was disappointed by the advice, as it came without a timeline and appears to treat cruising more harshly than other travel sectors.
“The new requirements are unduly burdensome, largely unworkable, and seem to reflect a zero-risk objective rather than the mitigation approach to COVID that is the basis for every other sector of our society,” CLIA said in a statement.
During an appearance on CNBC yesterday, NCLH CEO Frank Del Rio made a passionate argument that cruise ships can now offer a safe and healthy environment.
“I challenge you to tell me of another venue anywhere that has this kind of iron-clad health and safety protocols in place… cruise ships will de facto become the safest place on earth,” Del Rio told host Jim Cramer. “We want to start in the safest manner possible and that is… everybody on board has to be vaccinated.”
All three of Norwegian’s new homeports in Europe and the Caribbean enjoy significant airlift from major U.S. population centers.
NCLH also announced a series of cancellations this morning, including:
- All July and August itineraries aboard Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Sky, Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Star, and Norwegian Sun.
- All voyages aboard Norwegian Epic are canceled through September 1 and Norwegian Pearl through November 7, 2021.
- All voyages on Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises have been canceled through July 31.