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

Jun 23, 2021

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The Great Cruise Shutdown is finally coming to an end.

Celebrity Cruises this month became the first major cruise line to operate a sailing in the Caribbean since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and several other major lines — including Royal Caribbean — are in the midst of starting back up in the Caribbean, too.

A growing number of cruise ships also are restarting operations in Europe and other destinations around the world, and small vessels have resumed operations on U.S. rivers and intracoastal waterways.

Still, only a very small fraction of the world’s cruise vessels are currently back to sailing. It could be many months before a majority of cruise vessels are operating, and some lines already have said it could be well into 2022 before they return to normal service.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic 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 to sail in the U.K. starting in August). Both lines were originally due to debut in 2020.

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

Adventure Canada has canceled sailings on Ocean Endeavour until 2022.

AmaWaterways plans to restart cruises in Europe on July 3 with sailings on the Douro River in Portugal. Sailings on other European rivers, including the Danube, Rhine and Rhone, will resume toward the end of July, with various ships returning on a staggered basis.

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. Nearly all of the line’s 13 vessels are now 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. A third vessel, the Pacific Northwest-based riverboat American Empress, just restarted operations last week. The company does not have a restart date for its fourth vessel, American Queen.

Atlas Ocean Voyages, a new start-up line specializing in “luxe adventure,” will operate its first cruise on Aug. 4 in Europe.

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

Avalon Waterways plans to restart cruises for Americans on the Seine River in France on July 20. Sailings on the Rhine, Rhone and Danube rivers will resume in August.

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

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line plans to resume operations on July 2.

Birka Cruises has shut down.

Blount Small Ship Adventures has shut down.

Carnival Cruise Line plans to restart cruises out of Galveston, Texas, in July with two ships, Carnival Vista (starting on July 3) and Carnival Breeze (starting on July 15). The line also has announced plans to restart cruises to Alaska out of Seattle on July 27 using the Carnival Miracle and hopes to restart cruises out of Miami with the Carnival Horizon in July, too. Four more Carnival vessels, including the new Mardi Gras, will start sailings between July 31 and the end of August.

Celebrity Cruises restarted operations on June 5 with a single ship, Celebrity Millennium, sailing out of the Dutch side of the island of St. Martin (known as St. Maarten), and a second Celebrity ship (Celebrity Apex) began sailing out of Piraeus, Greece, on June 19. Two more Celebrity ships (Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Equinox) will restart sailings out of Fort Lauderdale on June 26 and July 25, respectively. The line also has announced voyages out of Southampton, England, starting on July 3 (limited to residents of the U.K. only); voyages in the Galápagos starting on July 4; and voyages to Alaska out of Seattle starting on July 23.

Celestyal Cruises, a specialist in Greek Island cruises, restarted cruises in the region on May 29.

Costa Cruises resumed operations in the Mediterranean on May 1 with a single vessel, Costa Smeralda, and has since added a second vessel (Costa Luminosa) to Mediterranean sailings. More vessels are scheduled to resume service on a staggered basis in the coming months.

CroisiEurope resumed river cruises on June 7 with sailings on the Douro River in Portugal. The line will resume additional river cruises in France’s Bordeaux Region on the Gironde River and France’s Seine River on June 30. Sailings on the Rhine, Danube and several other European rivers will resume in July, with Spain and Italy trips restarting in August. The line’s French canal cruises resume on July 2, and its ocean cruises along the Croatian coast and around Corsica restart in June and July, respectively.

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 plans to operate some river cruises starting Aug. 29 and sailings on its new expedition ship, Crystal Endeavor, starting in July.

Cunard Line will resume voyages out of the U.K. for U.K. residents only on July 19 with one ship, Queen Elizabeth. The line’s Queen Mary 2 will resume sailings on Nov. 14, with its first restart voyage being a transatlantic crossing between the U.K. and New York City. Cunard’s third vessel, Queen Victoria, is now not scheduled to restart sailings until April 22, 2022. The line has canceled the world voyages plans for Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria for 2022.

Disney Cruise Line will operate a short series of cruises around the U.K. (open to U.K. residents only) with one ship, Disney Magic, starting on July 15. But the line has canceled all other voyages through at least early August. Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy are now scheduled to resume sailings on Aug. 9 and Sept. 4,  respectively. Disney Wonder is scheduled to return to service on Sept. 24. All previously announced sailings on Disney Magic have been canceled through Nov. 8.

Emerald Cruises plans to resume voyages in Europe on July 31 with sailings on the Douro River in Portugal.

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 restart cruises to Alaska out of Seattle with one ship, Nieuw Amsterdam, on July 24. It also plans to resume sailings in the Mediterranean on Aug. 15 with a single ship, Eurodam. Two more vessels — Zuiderdam and Koningsdam — will begin sailings from San Diego to Mexico, the California coast, Hawaii and the Panama Canal on Sept. 18 and Oct. 10, respectively. In addition, the line plans to resume Caribbean sailings on Oct. 23 with voyages out of Fort Lauderdale on Nieuw Amsterdam (which will reposition from Alaska). Three more ships — Rotterdam, Eurodam and Nieuw Statendam — will begin operating Caribbean voyages out of Fort Lauderdale in November. Holland America cruises in Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and South America have been canceled through the end of 2021.

Jalesh Cruises has shut down.

Lindblad Expeditions restarted sailings in the Galápagos and Alaska in early June. The line’s new polar exploration ship, National Geographic Endurance, will begin sailing in Iceland on July 21.

MSC Cruises has restarted sailings out of Italy with two ships and sailings out of the U.K. (for U.K. passengers only) with one ship. It plans to restart Mediterranean and Northern Europe sailings with seven more vessels by Aug. 1 and will resume sailings from Miami in August.

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 restart cruises to Alaska with one ship (Norwegian Encore) and cruises to the Caribbean with one ship (Norwegian Gem) in August. The line has announced restart plans for a large number of its remaining ships for various dates in September through February 2022.

Oceania Cruises plans to restart operations in the Mediterranean on Aug. 29 with just one of its six ships, the 1,250-passenger Marina. Three more Oceania vessels will restart operations between Oct. 18 and Jan. 22, 2022.

Paul Gauguin Cruises initially resumed sailings in French Polynesia on July 11 but has since 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 operations on June 16 and is operating departures to Iceland, the Mediterranean and France through the summer.

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 plans to resume sailings to Alaska on July 25 with one ship (Majestic Princess), and it’ll add sailings from the U.K. with one ship (Regal Princess) on July 31. The latter will be open to U.K. residents only. Princess then plans to add more ships back to service in the fall. The line has said it will have eight vessels operating out of three U.S. ports — Los Angeles, San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale — starting between Sept. 25 and Nov. 28.

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. The line’s four other vessels will restart operations between Oct. 16 and Feb. 15, 2022.

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 was originally scheduled to debut in February 2020.

Riviera River Cruises will resume cruises in Europe on Portugal’s Douro River on July 2.

Royal Caribbean restarted limited sailings out of Singapore for Singapore residents only on Dec. 1 and added cruises out of Nassau in the Bahamas on June 12. More than half a dozen more Royal Caribbean vessels will restart operations out of the U.S. ports and in Europe in July and August.

Sail Windjammer has shut down.

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours plans to resume Europe river cruises on July 30 with sailings on the Douro River in Portugal. Ocean cruises have been canceled through the end of 2021.

Seabourn plans to restart operations in July with one ship (Seabourn Ovation) sailing to the Greek islands out of Piraeus, Greece, and one ship (Seabourn Odyssey) sailing to the Caribbean out of Barbados. Its three other vessels — Seabourn Quest, Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Encore — won’t resume departures until Nov. 7, 2021, and Jan. 11 and April 17, 2022, respectively.

Sea Cloud Cruises has canceled sailings through Aug. 6.

SeaDream Yacht Club will resume sailings in the Mediterranean on June 26 with one of its two vessels, SeaDream II. Its other vessel, SeaDream 1, will restart sailings on July 7 in Norway.

Silversea restarted operations in June with one ship (Silver Moon) sailing to the Eastern Mediterranean out of Piraeus, Greece, and one ship (Silver Origin) sailing in the Galápagos. It has canceled sailings on some of its other vessels 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 plans to resume some Iceland and Greece-focused ocean cruise itineraries in June and July. European river cruises will resume in August with sailings in France and Portugal. The company hopes to resume sailings on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers in the early fall.

UnCruise Adventures, a specialist in adventure-focused Alaska cruises with small vessels, restarted trips in the state on May 8.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection resumed cruise tours in Italy on June 18. Cruise tours in Portugal and France will restart on June 27 and July 4, respectively. Trips on the Danube and Rhine in Central Europe will restart on July 18 and July 25, respectively.

Variety Cruises resumed limited sailings on July 24, 2020.

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

Viking in May started U.K.-only sailings for local residents out of Portsmouth, England. It also recently restarted a handful of “welcome back voyages” out of Bermuda and plans to add cruises around Iceland and in the Mediterranean in 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 restarted sailings in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean in June with a single ship (Star Breeze and Wind Star) in each destination. A third Windstar vessel, 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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