The cruise comeback is accelerating, with five major-line ships returning to service with paying passengers this weekend. Three will set off from U.S. ports as Independence Day approaches, one will set sail from Nassau on an all-Bahamas itinerary, and one will begin cruising the coastline of the UK with local passengers.
Here’s a snapshot of where the excitement will be this weekend:
Freedom of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas received Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approval to sail with paying passengers after completing the first test cruise in U.S. waters earlier this month.
The 4,375-passenger ship’s first revenue sailing will run July 2 through July 5, departing from PortMiami with stops at Nassau, Bahamas, and Royal Caribbean’s private island Perfect Day at CocoCay.
All crew members will be fully vaccinated, along with at least 95 percent of guests. Royal Caribbean says most of the unvaccinated guests will be children. Earlier this week, the line detailed what unvaccinated guests will and won’t be able to do aboard the ship.
The 4,000-passenger Carnival Vista will be the first ship leaving out of Galveston and only the second ship to leave from U.S. shores since the start of the pandemic. A series of seven-night cruises will call on Mahogany Bay in Honduras, as well as making stops in Belize and Cozumel.
The Vista will depart July 3 with at least 95 percent of passengers fully-vaccinated. Travelers will have to show proof when checking in.
Carnival has chosen to allow only a limited number of unvaccinated guests to sail. This includes kids under 12 who can’t yet get vaccines, as well as exemptions as required by federal law, based on the total number of vaccinated guests on board. Unvaccinated guests will have to undergo testing, wear a mask, and follow other protocols.
On July 3, Crystal Serenity will depart Nassau on a series of all-Bahamian voyages, visiting a number of tiny ports in the Family Islands, some of which have never seen large cruise ships. With a strong response to the offering, Crystal recently extended the series of voyages through mid-November.
Crystal announced back in February that guests must be fully inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to boarding any Crystal ship. This is in addition to health and safety measures including negative COVID-19 tests for both guests and crew, reduced capacity, social distancing, mask requirements in some situations, and health screening questionnaires.
Following a major enhancement project, Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Silhouette is now docked at Southampton, making last-minute preparations in advance of UK coastal cruises exclusive to British passengers starting July 3.
The vessel is the fourth Celebrity Cruises ship to get a major makeover, as part of a $500 million fleet-wide program. New features on board include an open-air enclave, The Retreat, available exclusively to passengers in suites.
The Silhouette will sail with passengers aged 18 years and above who are fully vaccinated; proof of a negative PCR test taken up to or within three days of sailing must be supplied at embarkation.
Passengers aged 24 months to 17 years old will be expected to take an antigen test at the terminal prior to embarkation. All crew members are vaccinated.
On the Fourth of July, the 4,000-passenger Carnival Horizon will depart PortMiami on a six-night cruise visiting Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.
As with Carnival Vista sailing out of Galveston, the Horizon will sail with a minimum 98 percent of crew members and 95 percent of guests fully vaccinated.