When will cruises resume? A line-by-line guide

2d ago

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When will the Great Cruise Shutdown end? That’s the question cruise fans in North America have been asking for months as they await the day when they can get back on the high seas.

While we have seen a few cruise ships resume operations in Europe and other destinations around the world since last summer, most of these vessels remain off-limits to Americans.

And right now, cruising remains almost completely shut down in North America. The only cruise ships that have resumed sailing this year in U.S. waters are very small vessels that sail on U.S. rivers and intracoastal waterways.

Still, the good news for cruise fans is that several major lines — including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Crystal Cruises — finally have announced definitive plans to restart North America cruising in June or July. In each case, they have found ports outside of the U.S., such as Nassau in the Bahamas, that they can use as a base for their ships.

The lines have had to find new home ports for North American sailings because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently is blocking cruise operators from sailing from U.S. ports — something that is now the subject of a lawsuit by the state of Florida.

But even if the CDC reverses its ban on cruises, cruising in North America isn’t expected to come back in a significant way for several months. As of right now, most cruise lines have canceled all or most sailings in North America through at least the end of June, and some lines have canceled at least some departures in North America even further into the year.

The only exceptions are some small-vessel lines such as American Queen Steamboat Company, American Cruise Lines, Alaskan Dream Cruises and UnCruise Adventures that operate vessels on U.S. rivers and in U.S. coastal areas.

For the most part, cruise lines also have canceled most sailings in other parts of the world until early June, though as mentioned above, a few ships have restarted service in Europe and other regions. Cruising also is about to ramp up in the United Kingdom, with more than half a dozen lines planning U.K.-focused cruises for U.K. residents only starting between late May and July.

In a few cases, on specific ships, voyages have been canceled as far out as early 2022. One small line that specializes in cruises to Canada, Adventure Canada, has canceled all its Canada sailings until the spring of 2022. The cancellations came after Canada announced it wouldn’t allow cruise ships to dock in Canada at all this year.

The COVID-19 pandemic also has thrown a wrench into the launch plans for startup lines Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and Virgin Voyages. Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection has now pushed back its inaugural voyage to Nov. 10. Virgin Voyages has pushed back its big debut in Miami to the fall (although it plans some sailings in the U.K. starting in August). Both lines originally were due to debut in 2020.

Here’s a look at when major river, ocean and expedition cruise brands that market to North Americans say they’ll resume operations:

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Adventure Canada has canceled sailings on Ocean Endeavour until 2022.

AmaWaterways has canceled its 2021 sailings through June 30 (except sailings in Portugal, which are suspended through June 15). It says it will evaluate sailings beyond that 45 days in advance of their start dates.

American Cruise Lines resumed cruises along the intracoastal waterways of Georgia and South Carolina on March 13 with one vessel, the 100-passenger Independence, and it has since added sailings on the Mississippi River and several other U.S. waterways. About half of the line’s 13 vessels now are back in operation.

American Queen Steamboat Company resumed cruises on the Mississippi River on March 15 with a sailing of its 166-passenger American Duchess, and it added a second ship to service (American Countess) on the river on March 21. The line’s Pacific Northwest-based riverboat, American Empress, is scheduled to resume sailings on June 14. The company does not have a restart date for its fourth vessel, American Queen.

Aurora Expeditions is hoping its 132-passenger Greg Mortimer will be able to resume sailings in October.

Avalon Waterways has suspended operations through June 30 for passengers from the United States.

Azamara plans to resume sailings on Aug. 28 with a single ship, Azamara Quest, sailing Greece-intensive voyages out of Piraeus, Greece. All other sailings have been canceled until September.

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line hopes to resume operations in July.

Birka Cruises has shut down.

Blount Small Ship Adventures has shut down.

Carnival Cruise Line has canceled departures on all 24 of its ships through the end of June, and departures on a few of its vessels have been canceled for much longer. Sailings on three Carnival vessels that require maintenance in a dry dock — Carnival Paradise, Carnival Valor and Carnival Magic — have been canceled through November.

Carnival also has canceled all Carnival Miracle sailings from San Diego through April 2023, with the exception of seven Hawaii voyages that now will depart from Long Beach, California.

The Carnival Miracle cancellations will allow for the ship to redeploy to Long Beach, where it will assume the three- and four-day itineraries that had been scheduled to take place on Carnival Radiance through Nov. 1. Carnival Miracle also will launch a new program of four- and five-day cruises to Mexico out of Long Beach starting in November through April 2023.

Carnival Radiance, in turn, will remain out of service until November to undergo an overhaul.

Celebrity Cruises plans to restart cruising in June with sailings out of the Dutch side of the island of St. Martin (known as St. Maarten) and sailings out of Athens, Greece. The line also has announced voyages out of Southampton, England, starting on July 3 that will be limited to residents of the U.K. only. The line has canceled all other sailings through the end of June and some sailings on other vessels through October.

Celestyal Cruises, a specialist in Greek Island cruises, plans to restart cruises in the region on May 29.

Costa Cruises resumed operations in the Mediterranean on May 1 with a single vessel, Costa Smeralda. Three more Costa vessels — Costa Luminosa, Costa Deliziosa and Costa Firenze — are scheduled to restart operations in the Mediterranean on May 16, June 26 and July 4, respectively. Sailings on all other Costa ships have been canceled through mid-September.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages has shut down.

Crystal Cruises plans to resume cruises on July 3 with one of its two bigger ocean ships, Crystal Serenity, sailing all-Bahamas trips out of Nassau in the Bahamas. The line’s other large ocean vessel, Crystal Symphony, will resume sailings on Aug. 5 with sailings out of St. John’s, Antigua. Crystal has canceled all sailings of its yacht-like vessel Crystal Esprit through Sept. 26. All departures of Crystal’s river ships have been canceled through Aug. 28.

Cunard Line has canceled all originally scheduled departures of its three vessels — Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2 — through Aug. 27, Oct. 11 and Nov. 12, respectively. In their place, the U.K.-based line plans to operate some all-U.K. voyages for residents only over the summer on one of the ships, Queen Elizabeth.

Disney Cruise Line has canceled all departures into July. Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy are now scheduled to resume sailings on July 2 and 3, respectively. Disney Wonder is now scheduled to return to service on July 7. All previously announced sailings on Disney Magic, which had been scheduled to spend the summer in Europe, have been canceled through Oct. 14. But Disney recently announced that Disney Magic would instead operate sailings around the U.K. over the summer for U.K. residents only.

Emerald Waterways has canceled all sailings through the end of June.

FTI Cruises has shut down.

Hurtigruten in July 2020 resumed sailings to the Arctic with two ships after resuming limited cruises from Hamburg, Germany, to Norway with one ship in June. But the line soon stopped the sailings following a significant COVID-19 outbreak on one of the vessels. The line currently plans a new restart in July with sailings out of the U.K. for local U.K.-residents only.

Holland America plans to resume sailings in the Mediterranean on Aug. 15 with a single ship, Eurodam, and hopes to restart operations with other vessels over the summer. For now, it has canceled sailings on all ships through the end of June. In addition, the line has canceled all 2021 sailings to Alaska that begin or end in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Jalesh Cruises has shut down.

Lindblad Expeditions plans to restart sailings in the Galápagos and Alaska in June. There’s no word yet on when sailings in other regions will resume.

MSC Cruises plans to resume operations in Europe with more than half its fleet over the next four months. The 18-ship brand already has restarted sailings out of Italy with two ships and plans to restart Mediterranean and Northern Europe sailings with eight more vessels by Aug. 1. The line has canceled all North American departures through at least the end of June.

Norwegian Cruise Line plans to restart operations on July 25 with a single ship (Norwegian Jade) sailing Greek island voyages out of Piraeus, Greece. It then plans to start Caribbean cruises out of Jamaica and the Dominican Republic in August with one ship in each destination (Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Gem, respectively). Two more vessels, Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Getaway, will restart operations in September and October, respectively.

Sailings on the 17-ship line’s 12 other vessels have been canceled at least through the end of July and, in some cases, as far out as October or November. Specifically, Norwegian has canceled departures of Norwegian Bliss and Pride of America through July 31; Norwegian Getaway through Sept. 2; Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Spirit and Norwegian Star through Sept. 30; Norwegian Sun through Oct. 7; Norwegian Escape through Oct. 10; Norwegian Breakaway through Oct. 17; and Norwegian Gem from Oct. 29 through Nov. 17. 

Oceania Cruises plans to restart operations in the Mediterranean on Aug. 29 with just one of its six ships, the 1,250-passenger Marina. All other sailings have been canceled through Sept. 30.

Paul Gauguin Cruises resumed sailings in French Polynesia on July 11 but suspended the trips in the wake of travel restrictions for French overseas territories. The line now has canceled all sailings through Aug. 21.

Ponant resumed sailings in France, Croatia and Iceland on new itineraries in July but later suspended the trips due to growing travel restrictions in Europe.

Pullmantur, citing the impact of the cruising shutdown, filed for reorganization under Spanish insolvency laws over the summer of 2020 and is no longer operating.

Princess Cruises has canceled sailings worldwide through the end of June. Princess also has canceled all 2021 sailings to Alaska and the Pacific Coast that begin or end in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises plans to restart operations in Europe on Sept. 11 with just one of its five ships, the 750-passenger Seven Seas Splendor. All other sailings have been canceled through the end of September.

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, a new startup line affiliated with luxury hotel company Ritz-Carlton, has delayed its inaugural voyage until Nov. 10. The line originally was scheduled to debut in February 2020.

Royal Caribbean restarted limited sailings out of Singapore for Singapore residents only on Dec. 1 and plans to add new sailings out of Israel (also for local residents only) in May. In addition, it has announced plans for cruises out of Nassau, in the Bahamas, and cruises out of Bermuda starting in June and cruises out of Cyprus starting in July. The line plans to deploy one ship on each of the new routes. It also plans to restart cruises out of China soon with two ships. Sailings on the rest of its 25 vessels have been canceled through at least the end of May.

Sail Windjammer has shut down.

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours has canceled all sailings through the end of June.

Seabourn plans to restart operations in July with one ship sailing to the Greek islands out of Piraeus, Greece, and one ship sailing to the Caribbean out of Barbados. It has canceled all departures through the end of June, as well as a significant number of voyages through the rest of 2021. In addition, the line has canceled all 2021 sailings to Alaska.

Sea Cloud Cruises has canceled sailings through Aug. 6. The line’s 64-passenger Sea Cloud is now scheduled to resume departures on May 7. The 94-passenger Sea Cloud II is now scheduled to restart on June 2. The line’s new Sea Cloud Spirit is now scheduled to debut on June 2.

SeaDream Yacht Club has canceled all sailings through June 16.

Silversea plans to restart operations in June with one ship sailing to the Eastern Mediterranean out of Piraeus, Greece. It has canceled sailings on all ships through at least the end of May with sailings on a handful of ships canceled as far out as November.

Star Clippers has canceled all sailings through at least early August. Royal Clipper is now scheduled to resume service on Aug. 3, with Star Flyer following on Aug. 7. Star Clipper sailings have been put on hold until Nov. 13.

Tauck has canceled all sailings in Europe through July 15 with the exception of some Iceland and Greece-focused cruise itineraries that are expected to operate in June.

UnCruise Adventures plans to restart cruises to Alaska for the summer season on May 7.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is saying “late May” is its latest timetable for a restart, but it hasn’t announced a specific date for a resumption of sailings.

Variety Cruises resumed limited sailings on July 24, 2020.

Victory Cruise Lines has not announced a restart date for its sailings.

Viking plans to restart operations on May 22 with U.K.-only sailings for local residents out of Portsmouth, England. It also plans a handful of “welcome back voyages” out of Bermuda and Iceland in June and July. Other than that, the line has canceled all previously announced sailings through the end of July.

Virgin Voyages has postponed the Miami debut of its first ship, Scarlet Lady, until at least September. But it plans a few sailings of the ship out of the U.K. for U.K. residents only starting in August. The arrival of the line’s second vessel, Valiant Lady, has been pushed back by six months to Nov. 14.

Windstar Cruises has canceled sailings on all ships through at least mid-June with some ships now not scheduled to return to service until much later in the year. The line’s Star Breeze and Wind Star now are scheduled to resume sailings on June 19, and Wind Spirit is due back in service on July 15. Wind Surf, Star Legend and Star Pride will return to cruising on Aug. 8, Sept. 4 and Nov. 3, respectively.

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Featured image of courtesy of SeaDream Yacht Club

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