In a move that is both to reignite revenue for the cruise lines this summer, and as much to defy the CDC ban on cruising for US shores. Last week was a very busy news week in the cruise industry. With several lines announcing the beginning of summer sailings and strategic repositioning of ships to be able to sail.
The first came from Crystal Cruise Lines, who announced they received permission to port the Crystal Serenity in the Bahamas by Bahamian authorities. With that approval Crystal immediately announced a week ago that they will start sailing the Serenity from Nassau on July 3rd, with 1 week sailings, through the Bahamas. These sailings went on sale as of the 18th, and already Crystal is reporting massive booking interest for these sailings. The Serenity will sail under a reduced capacity of 900 guests max. With these sailings set through mid October.
Cruise fares start at $1,999 per person for the sailing, but there are numerous discounts available that bring down the price even more.
Next came Celebrity Cruise Lines which announced they are giving up on Alaska for 2021, and will send the Millennium which usually cruises seasonally in Alaska from May through October, and instead it will be repositioned to St. Maarten in the south Caribbean for Caribbean sailings starting on June 5th. These Celebrity sailings will go on sale in a few days on the 25th. These will also be weekly sailings that will offer two different itineraries every other week.
Following that announcement, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (Celebrity's parent company), also made it know that RCCL will also start sailing one week later than Celebrity, but out of Nassau, using the Adventure of the Seas
Being the US and CDC has no authority outside the US, by sailing out of the Bahamas & St. Maarten, these cruise lines can get back to business on a reduced basis. US travelers can simply book plane tickets to get to these destinations and then can be able to enjoy tropical weekly sailings. Of course both destinations do have testing requirements in place that you'll need to meet pre arrival flights in order to fly to these islands. As well the cruise lines will have COVID19 protocols/requirements in place in order to embark. Lastly you'll need to be tested onboard the ship or in resort if extending your stay on the islands, as currently the CDC requires on US arrivals have been tested pre departure in destination in order to fly back to the US.
Many resorts in the Caribbean are including antigen testing for guest on site, so perhaps the best idea is to enjoy a few nights at a resort after the sailing so you get be cleared for testing and return. I'm still awaiting word if the cruise lines will be testing guest for return, as this would be most ideal. If you could get off your cruise and return home same day.
Vaccinated travelers will have little worry when it comes to test results, but they will need tested even with vaccine, at least until CDC changes their US entry policy.
The other major cruise entity is NCL. NCL has not announced any reinstatement in the Caribbean, and in fact recently announced suspension worldwide will remain in effect through the end of June at least. With NCL owning Regent Cruise Lines and Oceania, this means those 3 lines will not be sailing anywhere, until at least July. Further, NCL announced it has not given up on Alaska for 2021 just yet. I can understand why, Alaska cruise season can last into October. So if the US government can get things figured out with the Jones Act there still could be a partial Alaska cruise season.
Alaska is not a complete wash out this year. Smaller more intimate cruise lines that can sail with a reduced capacity of under 100, are still permitted in the region. Lines like Uncruise and Lindblad are fantastic expedition like options to sail the mid and upper panhandle of Alaska. Those these small ships will not cross the open Atlantic over to Seward. So to get to the interior before/after the cruise to see Denali, Fairbanks, Kenai, would require a flight in between. Alaska is open and makes a great domestic destination for this summer.
On the other side of the world, things are also changing, in the UK Princess Cruise Lines, MSC and Royal Caribbean announced sailings out of UK to start in May/June, to go along with the UK's plan to reinstate travel at that time. However these cruises around the UK are only be open to UK residents in the UK. At least for now that is the official policy.
There is rumor that the US may soon revise it's travel policy and reopen international travel. Also news coming out of the EU about an Vaccine/Testing QR passport which would open up the EU to travel as quickly as this summer. I'll keep you all informed of these details once I know more.