What started as one encouraging announcement from one luxury cruise line on March 11, 2021, has now become a movement. Cruising is poised for its first significant comeback for North American travelers starting June 2021.
Crystal Cruises announced on March 11 that it would home port Crystal Serenity in the Bahamas starting July 3, 2021. A few days later, more cruise lines began making announcements, and the earliest date for a North American restart is now Celebrity Cruises on June 5, with 7-day cruises out of St. Maarten.
There have been very limited and closely monitored cruises in Europe and Asia over the past year, but these are the first opportunities for close-to-home ocean cruises for North American travelers since cruising paused in March 2020.
Cruise Specialists is closely following developments at every cruise line. Here are the latest updates from those who have announced a Caribbean comeback for summer 2021:
|Cruise Line||Cruise Ship||Planned Start Date||From/To||Guest Requirements|
|Celebrity Cruises||Celebrity Millennium||June 5, 2021||Roundtrip St. Maarten||Vaccines required for adults|
|Royal Caribbean||Adventure of the Seas||June 12, 2021||Roundtrip Nassau, the Bahamas||Vaccines required for adults|
|Crystal Cruises||Crystal Serenity||July 3, 2021||Roundtrip Bimini
or Nassau, the Bahamas
|Vaccines required for adults|
|Seabourn||Seabourn Odyssey||July 18, 2021||Roundtrip Bridgetown, Barbados||Vaccines required for all ages|
|Crystal Cruises||Crystal Symphony||August 5, 2021||Roundtrip St. John’s, Antigua||Vaccines required for adults|
|Norwegian Cruise Line||Norwegian Joy||August 7, 2021||Roundtrip Montego Bay, Jamaica||Vaccines required for all ages|
|Norwegian Cruise Line||Norwegian Gem||August 15, 2021||Roundtrip Punta Cana (La Romana), Dominican Republic||Vaccines required for all ages|
All of the above cruise lines plan to sail at reduced capacity during their start-up phase with these ships.
Vacationers will meet the travel requirements set by the destination from where their cruise departs. Depending on the destination, that may include but is not limited to:
- Negative PCR test* result before arrival (timeframes may vary depending on country)
- Testing upon arrival into the country
- Filling out appropriate forms
Guidelines for children under the age of 18 who are not required to be vaccinated to cruise may be different and in most cases for children, a negative COVID-19 test result within a specified time frame is required. (Virgin Voyages is an adults-only cruise line.) Check with your cruise line for the most up to date information. Many cruise lines are waiting to make announcements regarding mask requirements.
Crew will also be fully vaccinated on the following lines:
- Celebrity Cruises
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- Royal Caribbean
- Crystal Cruises – the expectation is all crew will be vaccinated with some initial exceptions combined with rigorous testing; they will be a requirement of employment once vaccine is widely available
The Stunning Destinations
With each announcement comes a feeling of exhilaration as travelers learn about the glorious islands and beach destinations each cruise ship will visit. Here are more specifics on the special itineraries:
7-Night Roundtrips from St. Maarten
Choice of two itineraries:
Phillipsburg, St. Maarten · at sea · Willemstad, Curacao · Oranjestad, Aruba · at sea · Bridgetown, Barbados · at sea · Phillipsburg, St. Maarten
Phillipsburg, St. Maarten · at sea · Tortola, British Virgin Islands · at sea · Castries, St. Lucia · Bridgetown, Barbados · at sea · Phillipsburg, St. Maarten
7-Night Roundtrips from Nassau, the Bahamas
Sample Itinerary for 7-Night Bahamas & Cozumel Cruise with 2 Days at Perfect Day: Nassau, Bahamas · Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas (private island) · at sea · Cozumel, Mexico · Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas · Nassau, Bahamas
Crystal Serenity: 7-Night Roundtrips from Nassau, the Bahamas
Itinerary: Nassau, Bimini, Harbour Island, Great Exuma, San Salvador Island, Long Island (all in the Bahamas) · at sea · Nassau
Crystal Symphony: 7-Night Roundtrips from St. John’s, Antigua
Itinerary: St. John’s, Antigua · Bridgetown, Barbados · Trinidad and Tobago · Castries, St. Lucia · Philipsburg, St. Maarten · Tortola, Roadtown, British Virgin Islands · St. John’s, Antigua
Crystal Cruises noted that as more islands in the Caribbean begin to reopen, Crystal may add additional ports to their itineraries and will inform guests and travel partners of any changes.
7-Day Roundtrips from Bridgetown
Choice of two itineraries:
Caribbean Yacht Odyssey:
Bridgetown, Barbados · Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia · St. Johns, Antigua and Barbuda · Road Town (Tortola), British Virgin Islands · Carambola Beach, Saint Kitts and Nevis · Saint Georges, Grenada · at sea · Bridgetown, Barbados
Caribbean Yacht Gems:
Bridgetown, Barbados · Castries, Saint Lucia · Roseau, Dominica · Philipsburg, Sint Maarten · Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands · Carambola Beach, Saint Kitts and Nevis · at sea · Bridgetown, Barbados
The above two itineraries may be combined for a 14-day cruise with only one repeated port.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Choice of two itineraries—a 7-day roundtrip Montego Bay, Jamaica or a 7-day roundtrip Punta Cana (La Romana) Dominican Republic
Montego Bay itinerary: Montego Bay, Jamaica · at sea · Harvest Caye, Belize (NCL’s private destination) · Roatán, Honduras · Cozumel, Mexico · at sea · Ocho Rios, Jamaica · Montego Bay, Jamaica
Punta Cana itinerary: Punta Cana (La Romana), Dominican Republic · at sea · Bridgetown, Barbados · Castries, St. Lucia · Philipsburg, St. Maarten · St. John’s Antigua · at sea · Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
What about the CDC?
The cruise industry has been working closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to restart cruising from U.S. homeports. While an announcement on when that can happen has not yet occurred, the cruise lines that are starting from the Bahamas and Caribbean ports will be utilizing dozens of safety measures cruise lines have collaborated on and developed in the past year.
As we receive more information on the path toward cruising, we will update this blog post.
Our cruise experts can coordinate a worry-free cruise vacation for you and our services are complimentary.
*Editor’s Note: What is a PCR test or a COVID-19 PCR test? As defined by the Mayo Clinic: Also called a molecular test, this COVID-19 test detects genetic material of the virus using a lab technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). A fluid sample is collected by inserting a long nasal swab (nasopharyngeal swab) into your nostril and taking fluid from the back of your nose or by using a shorter nasal swab (mid-turbinate swab) to get a sample. In some cases, a long swab is inserted into the back of your throat (oropharyngeal swab), or you may spit into a tube to produce a saliva sample. Results may be available in minutes if analyzed onsite or a few days — or longer in locations with test processing delays — if sent to an outside lab. PCR tests are very accurate when properly performed by a health care professional, but the rapid test can miss some cases.
Source, Mayo Clinic: //www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/covid-19-diagnostic-test/about/pac-20488900