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6 exciting cruise destinations making a comeback this year

April 18, 2022
6 min read
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More than two years after the cruise industry shutdown of 2020, the mainstream lines that cater to North Americans have returned most of their ships to service. Not only are vessels increasing passenger capacity, but they're traveling to several regions that weren't open a couple months ago.

That's great news for cruisers who now have more itinerary choices in areas like Alaska, Canada/New England and Australia.

Here, we'll look at six key cruise destinations that are back following the pandemic shutdown.

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Australia

Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. (Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Australia will reopen to cruise passengers on April 17, when the country's cruise ship ban, which lasted more than two years, is set to expire.

The first large ship to go back isn't due until a month and a half later. Pacific Explorer, a ship operated by P&O Cruises Australia, which is dedicated solely to the Aussie market, will conduct its first voyage on May 30, departing from Brisbane.

Princess Cruises, which pulled out of the area temporarily, has said it plans to return with sailings from Brisbane on Coral Princess in June.

Carnival Cruise Line also repositioned two vessels from Australia — Carnival Spirit, which had been there for a decade, and Carnival Splendor. Both are set to sail a series of Alaska itineraries from Seattle starting this spring before Carnival Splendor returns to its Sydney homeport in the fall. For now, Carnival Spirit will remain in the U.S.

Canada

Vancouver's Canada Place cruise terminal. (Photo by Paul Biris/Getty Images)

Canada has also finally reopened its ports to cruise ships, with Holland America's Koningsdam calling on British Columbia's Victoria on April 9. Not only is it huge news for Canadians who wish to cruise from their home country, but it also means ships can once again meet the foreign-port requirements of the U.S.'s Passenger Vessel Services Act, paving the way for an influx of operations in Alaska and Canada/New England.

For more than 24 months, Canada limited its marine passenger traffic to ferries and other vessels carrying fewer than 100 people. That forced the U.S. Government to legislate a temporary workaround for the PVSA in order to salvage the 2021 Alaska cruise season.

Foreign-registered ships planning to sail in Alaska or New England in 2022 will, once again, have to work at least one foreign port into the schedule for each voyage.

Cayman Islands

George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. (Photo by Westend61/Getty Images)

The Cayman Islands are now welcoming cruise ships again, nearly a full year after most other ports in the region. The last major Caribbean destination to reopen, it is taking a cautious two-phase approach, which will initially allow 21 ship calls over a monthlong period.

Disney Cruise Line's Disney Magic was the first vessel to stop by on March 21.

The estimated 74,000 passengers who will visit during the first month will have to wear masks while ashore if they're indoors. Cruisers and crew who test positive for COVID-19 on board will not be allowed to go ashore in port. Neither will their close contacts.

Great Lakes

Lake Michigan. (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

Although Great Lakes cruises generally don't get much attention, they're a perfect option for U.S. passengers who miss spending time on board but who aren't quite ready to hop back on a big ship or travel internationally just yet.

Although there are several brands — American Queen Voyages, Pearl Seas Cruises, Ponant and others — that operate Great Lakes sailings, a new and somewhat unexpected player in the space is Viking Cruises, which is launching its own brand of voyages on the lakes with new ship Viking Octantis in late April.

The itineraries are filled with calls on ports in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and Minnesota in the U.S., and Ontario and Quebec in Canada, among other interesting destinations that are rare for cruisers.

Hawaii

Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America. (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

Smaller lines, such as UnCruise Adventures, have been sailing in Hawaii for months, and the first mainstream large ship to visit post-2020 was Princess Cruises' Grand Princess, which arrived in Honolulu on January 9.

So why are we talking about this now?

Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America — the only mainstream cruise ship registered in the U.S. and, therefore, able to sail exclusively around the Hawaiian Islands — is back. Following significant delays due to rumored staffing issues, the vessel officially resumed sailings on April 9.

New England

American Cruise Lines operates the 175-passenger American Constitution in New England. (Photo courtesy of American Cruise Lines)

Ships are trickling back to New England, as well, with 2022 shaping up to be the region's biggest year since before the pandemic. Although voyages there resumed last year, with small lines like American Cruise Lines resuming sailings in March 2021, the region is finally starting to see some larger ships.

In recent news, on April 4, Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Pearl became the first large vessel to homeport in Boston since before the pandemic, offering a mix of Bermuda and Canada/New England sailings. As mentioned, Canada ports are now open to cruise ships, meaning that traditional Canada/New England itineraries are available with foreign ports that meet PVSA requirements.

As for small ship news, on April 22, American Queen Voyages' Ocean Navigator — which will sail the line's aforementioned Great Lakes cruises in 2022 — will be one of the first ships to call on Newport in two years as the vessel makes its way up the East Coast. Other stops on the ship's voyage include Norfolk, Baltimore, Nantucket, Provincetown, Boston, and Portland, Maine. The sailing departed from Savannah on April 14 and concludes in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the end of the month.

Featured image by Getty Images/Tetra images RF
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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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases