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3 major cruise lines push back restart all the way to July

March 16, 2021
4 min read
3 major cruise lines push back restart all the way to July
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Norwegian Cruise Line just became the first of the world's big cruise brands to give up on the idea of a June restart to cruising.

The Miami-based cruise operator on Tuesday canceled all departures through the end of June -- a move that pushes out its planned restart to at least early July.

Until Tuesday, Norwegian only had canceled sailings through the end of May.

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Norwegian's two smaller sister brands, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, also pushed back their restart dates on Tuesday by a month to early July.

Norwegian is the world's fourth-biggest cruise line by passenger capacity. With Tuesday's announcement, it becomes the first of the world's five biggest cruise lines to have halted all sailings until early July.

The world's three biggest cruise brands -- Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line and MSC Cruises -- have canceled all or most cruises through the end of May but not into June.

The world's fifth-biggest cruise line, Princess Cruises, has canceled some -- but not all -- sailings through the end of June.

The announcements from Norwegian and its sister brands are a blow to fans of the lines who had hoped their most recently announced restart dates would hold. Many have been optimistic that the recent rollout of COVID vaccines and falling case counts in many parts of the world would allow for at least some of the brands' cruises to take place in June.

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Related: The best credit cards for booking cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line operates some of the newest ships in the cruise business, including the recently unveiled 4,004-passenger Norwegian Encore. (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

But it's looking increasingly unlikely that there will be a meaningful amount of cruising in many parts of the world before July at the earliest.

In North America, in particular, cruise lines have been grappling with a road map for a return to cruising issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that lays out a long period of testing and approvals before cruising can resume.

Issued in October as a “framework for conditional sailing” order, the road map includes a testing period for new anti-coronavirus protocols on ships that have yet to begin. After that, cruise operators can apply for what the CDC is calling a Conditional Sailing Certificate in a process that could take an additional 60 days.

Cruise lines also face roadblocks to a return to cruising in the form of the many coronavirus-related travel restrictions that destinations around the world continue to impose.

Cruising has resumed in a limited way over the past nine months in parts of Europe, led by Europe-based lines such as MSC Cruises and TUI Cruises. A handful of ships also have resumed sailings in Asia, including one Royal Caribbean vessel. But, so far, no ocean cruising has resumed in North America on a permanent basis.

In November, one small cruise company, SeaDream Yacht Club, attempted to resume voyages in the Caribbean out of Barbados with a small vessel. But the sailing did not go well. It ended with a COVID-19 outbreak and passengers quarantined in their cabins. The line subsequently canceled all remaining cruises for the winter season.

The only cruise vessels that currently are operating in North America are two small vessels that sail on U.S. rivers and intracoastal waterways. They just resumed service this week.

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Featured image by Norwegian Cruise Line's 3,998-passenger Norwegian Encore. (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

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  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023