Cruise Lines Announce Summer 2021 Return to the Caribbean, Alaska, Galapagos, and Europe

by  Donna Heiderstadt | May 21, 2021
Galapagos Islands
Galapagos Islands / iStock / Gerold Grotelueschen

The cruise industry, which has been in a state of pandemic-imposed suspension since March 2020, is planning a gradual return beginning in June and July 2021 with select itineraries and a limited number of ships sailing in Alaska, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Galapagos and select regions of Europe—such as Greece, Turkey, Italy, and Iceland—that have already opened to American travelers. Certain river itineraries are returning as well as leaders in the European Union announced that fully vaccinated travelers from low-incidence countries will be welcome to visit the E.U. for tourism this summer. Some countries, such as France and Spain, have already indicated that vaccinated U.S. travelers will be welcome.

Cruising from U.S. ports—chiefly Miami and Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean—is still under review as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) works with cruise lines to hammer out vaccination, testing, and onboard social distancing protocols for the safe resumption of sailing. A few domestic restart dates—notably Holland America Line and Princess Cruises’ return to Alaska sailings in July 2021—have just been announced and more are expected. Here’s what the cruise lines have planned for summer 2021.

Ocean Itineraries & Ships

Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian will return July 25, 2021 with seven-night Greek Islands sailings from Athens (Piraeus) aboard Norwegian Jade (sailings from Rome and Barcelona will begin in September). Seven-night roundtrip sailings from Montego Bay, Jamaica will start on August 7, 2021 aboard Norwegian Joy and from Punta Cana (La Romana) in the Dominican Republic on August 15, 2021 aboard Norwegian Gem. All guests sailing any Norwegian cruise through Oct. 31, 2021 will need to be fully vaccinated and tested prior to boarding.

Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity’s initial return will be in the Caribbean (starting June 5, 2021 with seven-night round-trip sailings from St. Maarten aboard Celebrity Millennium), Galapagos (starting July 2, 2021 aboard Celebrity Flora) and Europe (seven-night Greek Islands & Cyprus sailings starting June 19, 2021 from Athens aboard the new Celebrity Apex and seven-night Italy, Croatia & Malta sailings beginning July 4, 2021 aboard Celebrity Infinity). All passengers age 16 and older must be fully vaccinated (two weeks past final shot). 

Royal Caribbean: Royal Caribbean will resume cruising with seven-night itineraries in the Bahamas, beginning June 12, 2021 aboard Adventure of the Seas and seven-night Greek Isles sailings aboard Jewel of the Seas from Limassol, Cyprus starting July 10, 2021. Additional itineraries and ships will cruise Italy, Malta, Croatia and other European locales beginning later in July. Passengers age 18 and older must be two weeks past completing their vaccination.

Holland America Line: Holland America just announced a return to Alaska sailings beginning July 24, 2021 with a series of 10 seven-night Alaskan Explorer itineraries sailing round-trip from Seattle aboard Nieuw Amsterdam through Oct. 2, 2021. Additionally, the cruise line will offer Greek Isles cruises from Athens aboard Eurodam from August 15, 2021 to September 5, 2021. Both itineraries are open to passengers who have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to sailing.

Princess Cruises: Princess just announced that it will return to Alaska on July 25, 2021 with seven-night Inside Passage itineraries aboard Majestic Princess from Seattle. Complete health protocols for passengers will be detailed shortly.

Viking Ocean Cruises: Viking has announced four itineraries for summer 2021 aboard its 930-passenger ocean ships: Bermuda Escape, with 8-day sailings beginning June 15, 2021; Malta & Adriatic Jewels, with 11-day sailings starting July 1, 2021; Iceland’s Natural Beauty, with 8-day sailings beginning June 26, 2021; and Malta & Greek Isles Discovery, with 11-day sailings beginning July 11, 2021. There will be daily onboard non-invasive saliva testing and vaccination requirements are dependent on the itinerary.

Seabourn: Seabourn returns to the Greek Isles on July 3, 2021 with seven-night Heart of the Aegean and Gems of the Greek Isles sailings aboard Seabourn Ovation and the Caribbean on July 18, 2021 with 7-night Caribbean Yacht Odyssey sailings aboard Seabourn Odyssey, roundtrip from Barbados. All guests must be fully vaccinated to sail on both voyages through October 2021 departure dates.

Silversea: Silversea will return to service with its brand new ship, Silver Moon, sailing the Greek Isles round-trip from Athens beginning June 18, 2021. All guests must be fully vaccinated.

Windstar Cruises: Windstar also returns with Greek Isles itineraries from Athens, beginning June 19, 2021 with the 7-day Treasures of the Greek Isles aboard its sailing ship Wind Star, and the Caribbean on June 26, 2021 with the 7-day Beach Fun & Sun itinerary from St. Maarten aboard its yacht Star Breeze. All passengers need to be fully vaccinated.

River Cruise Lines & Ships

Viking River Cruises: Viking’s return to river cruising will be with the 10-day Portugal’s River of Gold itinerary on the Douro River from June 30, 2021 aboard Viking Torgil, and then beginning July 18, 2021 with the 8-day Rhine Getaway between Basel and Amsterdam aboard Viking Longship Kara. All passengers aboard Viking river cruise ships must be fully vaccinated.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises: Uniworld will resume cruising on June 20, 2021 as its most recently transformed supership, S.S. La Venezia cruises the Venice Lagoon and Po River in Italy. Cruises will restart in France shortly thereafter: S.S. Bon Voyage on June 27, 2021 on the Garonne River in Bordeaux, S.S. Joie de Vivre on July 4, 2021 on the Seine River from Paris, and S.S. Catherine on July 11, 2021 on the Rhone River in Provence. 

AmaWaterways: While AmaWaterways sailings are paused through at least June 30, 2021, the company is reviewing E.U. requirements before announcing a definitive start date for European river sailings this summer.

Avalon Waterways: Avalon Waterways announced plans to restart river cruises in France with the July 20, 2021 Paris to Normandy sailing aboard Tapestry II, pending the official announcement of the France border opening to U.S. travelers. All passengers will need to be fully vaccinated, per the E.U. requirement.

Scenic & Emerald: Both Scenic and sister cruise line Emerald will restart river cruise itineraries on Portugal’s Douro River this summer, Scenic with itineraries beginning July 30, 2021 and Emerald aboard Emerald Radiance within the same timeframe.

Tauck: Tauck has announced that it will be offering information on river cruises in France, which opens to fully vaccinated U.S. travelers on June 9, 2021, by the end of May.

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