Norwegian Cruise Line announced Tuesday that it’s planning its official return to service for late July with sailings in Europe and The Caribbean.
“The Cruise Line will restart operations at a reduced capacity with Norwegian Jade, Joy and Gem as the first of its 17-ship fleet to welcome guests back on board,” Norwegian said in a release.
The cruise line will offer 7-day itineraries visiting the Greek Isles on the Norwegian Jade departing from Athens starting July 25. Cruises in the caribbean will also run for one week departing from Montego Bay in Jamaica starting Aug. 7 on Norwegian Joy. The company will also sail from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic on Norwegian Gem with voyages starting Aug. 15.
Norwegian said the new Caribbean itineraries will offer passengers 10-11 hours in each of the four ports of call and that the ships will spend only two days at sea. Passengers with voyages departing from Montego Bay will visit Harvest Caye, the Company’s private resort destination in Belize.
“Over a year after we initially suspended sailings, the time has finally come when we can provide our loyal guests with the news of our great cruise comeback,” Harry Sommer, president and CEO of Norwegian, said in the release.
All passengers who book sailings with embarkation dates through Oct. 31 will be required to be fully vaccinated and to be tested ahead of boarding.
“Given the ever-evolving nature of the pandemic, the accelerating rollout of the vaccine, and the speed of scientific learnings, it is premature to make decisions about our health and safety protocols for cruises with embarkation dates beginning Nov. 1,” Sommer continued, noting that the cruise line will continue to evaluate health and safety protocol which may be subject to change.
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Norwegian Encore in the newest ship in the fleet’s Breakaway Plus segment. (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)
However, Norwegian’s restart plan doesn’t mean an end to the litany of cruise cancellations the industry has seen over the past year.
“The Cruise Line today canceled all July and August itineraries aboard Norwegian Breakaway, Dawn, Escape, Getaway, Sky, Spirit, Star and Sun,” Norwegian said. “In addition, voyages aboard Norwegian Epic through Sept. 1; and Norwegian Pearl through Nov. 7 have also been canceled.”
Cruising has not resumed in the U.S. waters, still and there is no set date for resumption. The announcement comes one day after Norwegian’s parent company, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., announced a vaccine requirement and sent a letter to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky, requesting permission to resume sailing in U.S. waters on July 4.
Norwegian isn’t the only cruise line to add sailings in other waters. Royal Caribbean last month announced sailings in Israel, Bermuda and the Bahamas and its sibling line Celebrity added itineraries for St. Maarten — all with specific vaccine requirements.
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