With the successful launch of the Celebrity Apex from Fort Lauderdale June 29, the cruise lines are affirming that it’s time to cruise. Many of you might read that as: Cruise Again!
Celebrity became the first line to cruise from a U.S. homeport in more than one year because the CDC okayed their restart. Celebrity avoided the burden of running lengthy test cruises by affirming that at least 95% of its passengers ages 16 and older and 98% of its crew would be fully vaccinated before the ship’s departure. (On August 1, 2021, that requirement will expand to include cruise passengers ages 12 and older.)
Other major cruise lines are onboard with this program. So, will all your fellow travelers be vaccinated?
You’ve probably read about legal challenges to the vaccine mandate in Florida and Texas. That means, for the moment, that cruise lines will be “requiring” proof of vaccination from all passengers and those who choose not to submit proof will be restricted as to which dining rooms, cabins and facilities they may use. The cruise lines and travel agents are on standby to alert you of any changes to this policy regarding U.S. based cruises as the rules become more clear.
Is It Time to Cruise International Waters?
What’s clear is that while the major Asia ports are still off-limits to foreign travelers, some of the major lines says it’s time to cruise in the Mediterranean.
Get bragging rights to an Indiana Jones adventure aboard Atlas Ocean Voyages’ Mediterranean cruises. World Navigator is the industry’s first cruise ship to bring travelers to Egypt since the pandemic began. The luxurious World Navigator will alternate seven to 12-day departures from Athens (Piraeus, Greece) and Cairo (port of Alexandria, Egypt) starting August 4, calling at 14 different UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Already a top value in pricing for so many amenities, this cruise line is all-inclusive (even including international airfare and a choice of shore excursions.) Book with Atlas Ocean Voyages now through July 7 and you will get an especially good deal — $2,000-$7,000 savings per stateroom sleeping up to three guests. Ideal if you have a grandchild interested in history!
So yes, for many travelers, it’s time to cruise. Other exceptions to the cruise bans in effect overseas include the small ship, eco-minded Hurtigruten company based in Norway. They plan to resume operations in July on their super scenic Norwegian Coastal Voyages.
What About Alaska, Everyone’s Favorite Bucket List Cruise
In good news, Princess, Holland America and Carnival Cruise Lines are among the first to schedule a partial season in Alaska, each with one ship sailing roundtrip from Seattle, starting in late July. Don’t expect any ports of call in Canada, however; that country is still off-limits to travelers so these ships will bypass popular ports such as Vancouver and Victoria.
Norwegian Cruise Line also will return to Alaska. Norwegian’s restart is Aug.7 on the Norwegian Bliss with departures from Seattle planned through Oct. 16. On this line, take advantage of the second cruise pier in Icy Strait Point, a collaboration with Alaska Native-owned Huna Totem Corporation.
Royal Caribbean has also announced plans to launch its Alaska season with seven-night cruises on some of its favorite ships starting in mid-July. One noteworthy success from Royal Caribbean is Adventure of the Seas. This beauty is already sailing from Nassau with fully vaccinated crew and fully vaccinated guests 16 years of age or older; other Royal Caribbean ships are set to cruise from the U.S. and Europe later this summer with some sort of public health protocols.
More Cruise News if You Think It’s Time
Cruising is a no-brainer for parents and grandparents because they get a lot of activities, meals, lodging and non-stop entertainment at sea for their vacation dollar. You’ll have to be aware of current vaccine and quarantine regulations, so it may be best to book this cruise vacation with a travel professional. The online CruiseCompete.com allows you get bids from multiple travel agencies on available cruise offers.
Having said that, there are new ships and lots of new discounts available making it a good time to cruise. Take advantage of deals including free WiFi, half-off beverage packages, free excursions and more.
Be the first on your block to sail Carnival’s Mardi Gras when she departs Port Canaveral on July 31. She’s sailing in the Eastern and Western Caribbean using Liquified Natural Gas, a sustainable and enivornmentally-friendly alternative fuel that’s a first for this industry. She also has cabins sleeping up to five people and features BOLT, a terrifying-looking roller coaster on the top deck.
Current Cruise Deals if You’re Ready
West Coasters will be delighted to learn that Holland America Line will restart cruising in out of Port of San Diego in California in September. Look for a season of vaccinated cruises to Mexico,Hawaii and along the California coast aboard Koningsdam and Zuiderdam. Book now and you can take 50% off their most popular amenities, such as length-of-cruise Drinks, Wi-Fi, Excursions or Dining packages.
Princess Cruises, which has announced enhanced WIFI on its ships for those of you who plan to WFA (work from anywhere), will sail eight ships again to the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexico, Hawaii and the California Coast between Sept. 25 and Nov. 28. At present, they’re offering a $200 credit towards onboard spending.
Other companies, like American Cruise Lines, whose small river ships sail the major U.S. rivers and coastlines, are planning a busy season ahead. They’re featuring 13 different July itineraries, ranging from the Columbia to the Mississippi Rivers, as well as along the New England coast and within Glacier Bay in Alaska.
What do you think, is it time to cruise? Again?
We hope you enjoyed this guest post from Kyle McCarthy and are inspired to cruise again! Kyle McCarthy is editor of Family Travel Forum and a fan of small ship cruising who wrote this cruise post for sponsors Carnival Cruise Lines PLC. As empty nesters, she and her husband are trying to lure their son on another family vacation, this time to Alaska in the fall.