Cruising comeback heats up as 2 more major lines announce restart plans

Apr 28, 2021

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In another sign that the comeback of cruising is gaining steam, two more major cruise lines have announced plans to restart operations in the coming months.

Miami-based Oceania Cruises and sister line Regent Seven Seas Cruises on Wednesday said they would resume departures in August and September, respectively.

Oceania said it would restart operations on Aug. 29 with just one of its six ships, the 1,250-passenger Marina. The vessel will resume originally scheduled departures to Scandinavia and Western Europe out of Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Regent said it would restart operations on Sept. 11, also with just one ship, the 750-passenger Seven Seas Splendor. The vessel will resume operations with an 11-night voyage out of Southampton, England, to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland. It’ll then reposition to the Mediterranean for fall sailings before heading to the Caribbean for the winter.

In addition, another sister line to the brands, Norwegian Cruise Line, on Wednesday announced restarts for two more of its 17 ships — Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Getaway — to take place in September and October, respectively. The line already had announced restart plans for three of its vessels earlier this month.

The 750-passenger Seven Seas Splendor will resume cruising in late August. (Photo courtesy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises)

The announcements are just the latest sign that cruising is finally in the midst of a widespread comeback after more than a year when many lines weren’t able to operate a single departure. Cruising around the world ground to a halt in March of 2020 after the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic.

Oceania’s Marina sailing in August will mark the line’s first departure in more than 17 months. When Regent resumes operations in September, it will have been nearly 18 months since its last sailing.

“We are pleased to unveil the next chapter of our resumption of cruise voyages embarking outside of the U.S. with sailings in Europe on all three of our award-winning brands,” Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings president and CEO Frank Del Rio said in a statement accompanying the announcements. “We value the health, safety and well-being of our guests, crew and the communities we visit above all else and we have worked tirelessly to develop our science-backed plan to safely resume cruising, including mandatory vaccinations and robust [health] protocols.”

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

In the statement, Del Rio suggested the company still was holding out hope that it could get approval to restart cruise operations from U.S. ports over the summer. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently is blocking cruise lines from sailing in U.S. waters, citing the risks of COVID-19.

The restarts that Norwegian Cruise Line announced for Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Getaway on Wednesday will take place in the Mediterranean.

Norwegian Epic will operate seven-night Western Mediterranean sailings out of Barcelona starting on Sept. 5 through Oct. 24. Norwegian Getaway will operate 10- and 11-day Greek island voyages out of Civitavecchia, Italy (the port for Rome) starting Sept. 13 through Oct. 25.

Earlier this month, luxury line Silversea announced plans to restart sailings in June with a single ship sailing out of Piraeus, Greece, and luxury line Seabourn announced it would resume sailings in July with voyages to the Greek islands out of Piraeus.

Other lines that recently have announced restart plans include Celebrity Cruises, which is restarting cruises to the Greek islands out of Piraeus and Caribbean sailings out of Philipsburg, St. Maarten (the Dutch side) in June.

Royal Caribbean also in is the midst of adding sailings out of various ports in North America and Europe including Greek island sailings out of Cyprus that start in July.

And MSC Cruises in recent days has mapped out a comeback plan for 10 of its 18 vessels.

As part of their announcements, Oceania and Regent said they had canceled sailings on other vessels that weren’t part of the announcements through the end of September.

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Featured image courtesy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

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