3 more major cruise lines are restarting sailings from North American ports

Aug 3, 2021

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Two more of the world’s biggest cruise lines — MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line — are restarting operations in North America this week and, in just a few more days, they’ll be joined by another significant cruise brand, Disney Cruise Line.

The North American restart for MSC Cruises began on Monday when the line’s 4,500-passenger MSC Meraviglia departed from Miami on a four-night sailing to the Bahamas.

Norwegian Cruise Line is kicking off its North American restart on Saturday with a seven-night sailing of its 3,998-passenger Norwegian Encore from Seattle to Alaska.

Disney Cruise Line’s North American restart will begin on Monday with a four-night sailing of its 2,500-passenger Disney Dream from Port Canaveral, Florida, to the Bahamas.

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For all three lines, these are the first departures from any port in North America since the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic 17 months ago, in March of 2020.

Like all major cruise lines around the world, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line ceased operations in March of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and stayed shut down as COVID-19 cases spiked around the world.

MSC Cruises, Norwegian and Disney have all since restarted some sailings in Europe — in Norwegian and Disney’s case, just in the last couple of weeks. The Disney sailings that have restarted in Europe, all out of the U.K., have been for U.K. residents only.

The 2,500-passenger Disney Dream will resume sailings on Aug. 9. (Photo by Education Images/Getty Images)

In restarting service in North America, the three brands are joining a growing number of competitors including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line that already have resumed limited departures in the region. The restarts have been occurring since the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) loosened restrictions for cruise travel in U.S. waters.

The three lines restarting sailings in North America are taking different approaches to COVID-19-related protocols for cruisers. Norwegian only is allowing passengers fully vaccinated against COVID-19 on Norwegian Encore for now. MSC Cruises, by contrast, is allowing both vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers on board MSC Meraviglia but is testing them all for COVID-19 at boarding.

In addition, unvaccinated passengers on MSC Meraviglia won’t be able to disembark the ship on their own in ports. They’ll only be allowed off the ship in organized tours arranged by MSC Cruises.

All three lines plan to add more vessels back into service in North America slowly over the coming months. MSC Cruises has 19 ships in its fleet in all, while Norwegian currently has a 17-ship fleet. Disney Cruise Line is the smallest of the three brands with just four ships in its fleet.

MSC Meraviglia will operate three- and four-night Bahamas voyages out of Miami through mid-September before switching to week-long Caribbean sailings.

A second MSC Cruises ship, the 3,502-passenger MSC Divina, is scheduled to restart operations in the U.S. out of Port Canaveral on Sept. 16.

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Featured image courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line. 

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