Royal Caribbean scuttles plans for comeback cruises out of Bermuda

May 20, 2021

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Royal Caribbean is giving up on the idea of making Bermuda a home base for cruises this year.

The world’s largest cruise line on Thursday canceled the entire series of summer sailings out of Bermuda that it just announced eight weeks ago.

The seven-night voyages to the Bahamas out of Bermuda’s Royal Naval Dockyard had been scheduled to start on June 26 — just five weeks from Saturday.

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In a statement to TPG, Royal Caribbean hinted that the sailings weren’t selling well. The line suggested that the U.S. cruisers who it had targeted for the sailings had been showing a preference for summer sailings from U.S. ports.

“The likelihood of cruises setting sail from the U.S. this summer is greater each day, and with that, U.S. travelers are increasingly showing a preference for more direct access to ports of departure,” Royal Caribbean said in the statement.

Royal Caribbean announced the new Bermuda sailings on March 23 as part of a strategy to get ships back in the water in North America by the summer. At the time, the prospects for a summer restart of cruising out of U.S. ports was unclear, due to regulatory issues, and sailings out of Bermuda and other non-U.S. ports seemed like a logical alternative.

But in recent weeks, executives at Royal Caribbean and other lines have grown increasingly optimistic that cruising out of U.S. ports could restart by July.

The optimism comes amidst growing discussions between cruise lines and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about such a restart. The CDC has been blocking cruise ships that carry more than 250 people from sailing in U.S. waters since March of 2020 due to worries about the potential spread of COVID-19 on ships. But as COVID-19 case counts in parts of North America come down and as vaccination rates have gone up, the agency has shown more willingness to reopen U.S. waters to cruising.

Like nearly all cruise lines, Royal Caribbean hasn’t operated a single cruise departure in North America since March of 2020.

The just-canceled sailings out of Bermuda would have been Royal Caribbean’s first voyages out of Bermuda in its 52-year history.

Royal Caribbean’s cancellation of the trips comes just days after the line canceled similar “comeback sailings” that it planned to launch in the coming weeks out of Haifa, Israel. In that case, the trips were canceled due to unrest in Israel.

Royal Caribbean in recent days also has pushed back the start date for initial comeback sailings it has planned out of China.

Taken together, the changes mean that Royal Caribbean has now canceled or delayed voyages on four of the eight ships that have been at the core of its cruising comeback plans.

Around the same time that Royal Caribbean announced the new Bermuda sailings, it also announced new summer sailings to the Bahamas and Mexico out of Nassau in the Bahamas starting on June 12.

For now, the sailings out of Nassau still are on.

Royal Caribbean also still plans sailings out of Limassol, Cyprus, and Southampton, U.K. (the latter for U.K. residents only) starting in July.

In addition, the 25-ship line already is operating voyages in Asia with one of its vessels, Quantum of the Seas. The ship has been sailing out of Singapore since December.

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Featured image courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

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