2 more cruise lines cancel soon-to-depart sailings amid omicron surge
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Windstar Cruises is joining the list of cruise operators canceling soon-to-depart sailings amid the worldwide surge in COVID-19 cases.
The small-ship cruise specialist on Thursday began notifying passengers on upcoming trips that it was pausing operations across most of its fleet through at least Jan. 28.
The pause will affect every Windstar ship currently operating except the Tahiti-based Star Breeze.
For more cruise guides, tips and news, sign up for TPG’s cruise newsletter
Also canceling a significant number of sailings on Thursday for the first time during the latest surge of COVID-19 cases was British line Fred. Olsen Cruises. The line announced it had delayed the return of one of its four vessels, Balmoral, until May. It said the return of another of its vessels, Braemar, would be delayed even further, to spring of 2023.
In addition, Holland America on Thursday extended previously announced cancellations for one of its 11 ships, Nieuw Amsterdam, into February, and Norwegian Cruise Line canceled sailings through the end of the month on another vessel, Norwegian Breakaway.
Norwegian has now canceled soon-to-depart sailings on 12 of its 17 ships.
The cancellations come as cruise lines struggle along with all other types of travel providers to deal with the surge in COVID-19 cases sweeping the world. In the U.S., nearly 900,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday — nearly 10 times the number that were testing positive just a few weeks ago.
While cruise ships have recorded relatively few cases of COVID-19 over the past year, in part due to unusually strict health protocols, the number of passengers and crew testing positive on ships has been rising sharply in recent weeks along with the greater surge on land. The rise in cases on ships has led to disruptions to sailings as some ports have balked at allowing ships to call or tightened entry requirements to a point that has made it difficult for ships to comply.
Some cruise ships also have had to contend with crew shortages that have resulted from the need to isolate crew who have tested positive for COVID-19.
The challenges to operating in such an environment has led a growing number of cruise lines to cancel soon-to-depart sailings in recent days, including Royal Caribbean, Silversea, Atlas Ocean Voyages, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises and Oceania Cruises.
The cancellations announced Thursday by Windstar affect three of its six ships, all based in the Caribbean — Star Legend, Wind Surf and Windstar. Two more of Windstar’s ships — Wind Spirit and Star Pride — were already out of service.
The one ship Windstar is leaving in service for now operates sailings around French Polynesia, where COVID-19 cases currently are notably low. All of French Polynesia recorded just 55 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
In the wake of the cancellations announced Thursday, Fred. Olsen Cruises still will have two of its four vessels operating in the coming months — Bolette and Borealis.
The latest wave of cancellations across the cruise industry are the biggest since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when the entire cruise industry shut down in a matter of days. Most of the world’s major cruise lines remained shut down for well more than a year afterward.
For now, there is little talk in the industry of such a widespread shutdown. Even the lines that are canceling sailings have said they expected the ships to be back in operation soon.
After restarting operations around the world over the past year, cruise lines have implemented unusually strict health protocols that go far beyond what is typical at land-based resorts and on airplanes. Many lines require all passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and to undergo COVID-19 testing before boarding ships.
A small but growing number of lines in recent days have added a booster shot requirement, too.
In addition, lines often require passengers to wear masks while onboard ships and keep socially distant.
Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:
- A beginners guide to picking a cruise line
- The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
- The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
- A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
- 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
- 15 ways cruisers waste money
- What to pack for your first cruise
Featured photo of courtesy of Windstar Cruises.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy Bonus Points after spending $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 8/31/22.
- 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.
- 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
- 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
- Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
- Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
- Terms apply.
- See Rates & Fees