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Greece is the word when it comes to the comeback of cruising this summer

April 23, 2021
5 min read
Celebrity Apex
Greece is the word when it comes to the comeback of cruising this summer
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Desperate to take a cruise in the coming months? Here's our advice: Get ready to get yourself to Greece.

While cruising is about to start back up in a small way out of ports as far-flung as Nassau in the Bahamas and Southampton in the United Kingdom, it's looking increasingly like Greece is going to be the big hub for the initial comeback of summer cruising.

In just the last month:

  • Luxury line Silversea announced it would resume sailings on June 18 with a single ship sailing out of Piraeus, Greece (the port for Athens). The trips will take place on the 596-passenger Silver Moon and be the line's first in 15 months.
  • Luxury line Seabourn has announced its cruising comeback would begin on July 3 with a series of Greek Island sailings out of Piraeus. The trips will take place on the 600-passenger Seabourn Ovation and be the line's first in 16 months.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line has announced it would resume operations on July 25 with a single vessel, the 2,200-passenger Norwegian Jade, sailing to the Greek Islands out of Piraeus. The world's fourth-largest cruise line also said two more of its ships would begin Caribbean sailings out of Montego Bay, Jamaica, and La Romana, in the Dominican Republic, come August. Norwegian hasn't operated a departure since March 2020.

Also putting Greece at the center of its comeback plans is MSC Cruises. The world's third-largest cruise line on Thursday said it planned to start cruises to Greece out of Italian ports with three ships -- MSC Orchestra, MSC Splendida and MSC Magnifica -- on June 5, June 12 and June 20, respectively.

MSC Cruises already has restarted operations with a single ship sailing out of Italy to Italian ports and plans to add additional ships in the Western Mediterranean and Northern Europe, too, in the coming months.

Other lines that have announced plans in recent weeks to start up sailings in Greece in the coming months include Celebrity Cruises, Celestyal Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Costa Cruises, Aida Cruises, TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

The announcements come as Greece moves forward aggressively with a plan to reopen widely to tourists in advance of the summer travel season. The plan includes a reopening to cruises at a level not seen in most of the world.

Greece relies heavily on tourism for revenue, and tourism officials in the country have been clear that restarting tourism of all kinds, including cruises, is critical to the country's financial wellbeing.

In a statement last month announcing the restart of Celebrity sailings in the country, Greek tourism minister Haris Theocharis said Greece was eager for travelers to return.

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The Celebrity Cruises ship Celebrity Apex is scheduled to start cruising from Piraeus, Greece, in June. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

“The positive economic impact that tourism brings to our country cannot be underestimated,” Theocharis said. “I am very happy Celebrity Cruises is playing an important role in rebuilding this important economic pillar.”

Celebrity was one of the first lines to announce a restart of cruising in Greece with plans to begin sailings out of Piraeus on June 19. The line is deploying its newest ship, the 2,908-passenger Celebrity Apex, to the country for voyages to multiple Greek Islands as well as Cyprus and Israel.

Cruise line executives such as Celebrity president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo have praised Greece's leaders for allowing them to restart operations in the country.

Greece's openness to a resumption of cruising in the coming months is in contrast to the resistance that officials in some other countries, including Canada and the United States, have expressed to the idea of a cruising comeback.

“This is a very special homecoming for Celebrity Cruises made possible with the strong collaboration of the Greek government,” Lutoff-Perlo said at the time its new Greece sailings were announced. “I extend my enduring gratitude.”

In most cases, the new Greece cruises that lines plan to operate in coming months are open to travelers from all countries. One exception are voyages to the Greek Islands that Royal Caribbean plans to begin out of Haifa, Israel, in May. The trips only will be open to residents of Israel.

Royal Caribbean plans to begin a second set of cruises to the Greek Islands out of Cyprus on July 10 that will be open to all nationalities.

The push to restart cruising in Greece comes despite a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country since January. In the last week, Greece has averaged around 2,800 new COVID-19 cases a day, nearly six times the amount seen in mid-January.

The cruise lines that have announced plans to restart Greece sailings in the coming months have said they would implement a long list of new health measures including, in many cases, a requirement that passengers be fully vaccinated to cruise.

The lines note that cruise ships that have restarted operations in recent months with similar measures have operated without incident.

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Featured image by The Celebrity Cruises ship Celebrity Apex. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
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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  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
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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.
4 / 5
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10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

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  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more