Friday, March 19, 2021 – And just like that, cruising is back. Today, three cruise companies announced restarts. Those new announcements are in addition to four cruise companies that announced restarts in the past two weeks.
Newly announced on Friday.
- MSC Cruises will begin operations in the UK for British guests starting from May 20. Mini and week-long departures will embark from Southampton, with details on other embarkation ports in the UK to be announced soon.
- Royal Caribbean is offering a lineup of 7-night cruises on Adventure of the Seas beginning this June from its new homeport – Nassau, The Bahamas.
- Featuring two alternating seven-night itineraries, Celebrity returns to the Caribbean when Celebrity Millennium begins sailing from its new homeport in St. Maarten on June 5.
MSC has successfully sailed in Europe since August 2020, carrying more than 50,000 guests on its ships to-date. Those cruises were during the pandemic. In fact, a few cruise companies operated largely without incident (and continue to operate) through the pandemic – MSC and Costa in the Mediterranean, Royal Caribbean from Singapore (and soon Israel), CroisiEurope and AmaWaterways on the rivers in Europe – and more.
It’s all exciting and somewhat surreal. It felt as though the pandemic would last forever, and, of course, it’s not over yet, but the end is nigh. Back in early February, we gave our best guess as to when cruising would begin its broader recovery and where. Here’s a recap in case you missed our predictions.
- River cruises will begin again in the spring, but only for Europeans. We expect North Americans to river cruise in Europe by late summer or early fall. See our poll Your Thoughts On When We Will River Cruise In Europe Again
- Spring sailings are not entirely out of the question for the broader ocean cruise industry, but only for select destinations and locals
- The British Isles could be among the first itineraries back, given Great Britain’s success with vaccinations
- Australia also could be among the first to see cruises resume
- Cruises in Scandinavia could begin again in late spring
- We expect expedition cruises to resume as early as the spring. The Galapagos could be among the first destinations to return in our view.
What are our thoughts about those of you who have cruises booked in the summer and fall? We suspect you’ll be cruising. Alaska may be out of the question for big ships – although that is still uncertain too – but if your choice to cruise Alaska is on UnCruise, then all systems are go, provided that you are vaccinated that is.
It’s clear that we’re turning the corner and that countries are changing policies, some locking down, others opening up, particularly to those travelers who have been vaccinated.
In Europe, river cruise lines are poised to begin sailing again this spring. Once Americans are allowed to travel to Europe, we expect river cruises to begin again in earnest.
We’re guessing that at least one expedition company will announce a return to service. Stands to reason that the small expedition ships that visit remote destinations would be a safe bet for a resumption of operations soon. We’re betting that expeditions close to home for North Americans may be among the first to come back. And we’re hoping that Galapagos expeditions aren’t far behind. We fully expect the Antarctica season to operate beginning in November.
We’re also betting on more announcements before April thanks to the success of vaccines and the fact that cruise ships can operate safely, as they’ve proven time and again since the pandemic began.
Now all that’s left is for the CDC to see the light so that cruising can begin in earnest from U.S. ports. The CDC has been slow in recognizing that cruises are operating safely around the world. So companies are taking their ships outside U.S. territorial waters to begin service outside the jurisdictional scope of the CDC. Maybe the CDC will see what’s happening on cruises from the Bahamas and the Caribbean and give ships the green light again to sail from U.S. ports. After all, why can’t those who have been fully vaccinated set sail again?
Will you have to wear a mask on your cruise? Not for long, we hope. We suspect that masks will be required for the first several cruises, but even that is uncertain. Things are changing rapidly as the world conquers coronavirus. What will be required, at least initially, is the jab. Many of the cruise companies that are restarting require that guests are vaccinated. We don’t know about you, but we wouldn’t want to cruise without being vaccinated. After all, without the vaccines we would not have all of this encouraging news about cruising, would we?