After being banned from sailing in the U.S. since March 2020, the first large ocean ships have been given the green light by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention and have started sailing again!
We have to admit it, this almost brought tears to our eyes seeing the remarkable crew aboard the Celebrity Millennium welcome cruise passengers back onboard on June 9.
Seeing the sincere joy on their faces and hearing the shouts of “Welcome back! We missed you!” is something we don’t think will be forgotten very soon.
We are so ecstatic to see more ships being able to get back to sailing.
On June 26, Celebrity Cruises was the first major ocean cruise line to sail from a U.S. port in more than a year when the 2,918-passenger Celebrity Edge departed from Ft. Lauderdale for a seven-night Caribbean cruise.
Building on the excitement of the upcoming return to Alaska, Royal Caribbean International has announced that six of its award-winning ships will begin sailing from major U.S. cruise ports in Florida and Texas in July and August.
By the end of August, 12 Royal Caribbean ships will be cruising once again across The Bahamas, Caribbean, Alaska and Europe. More ships will start sailing later this summer.
Cruising may be a bit different than before but as time goes by and more ships sail things will constantly be updated and changed.
As of now, we have been told that unvaccinated travelers could face hassles compared with their vaccinated counterparts.
Unvaccinated passengers, children included, will have to follow different rules on board, including wearing face masks and will have to undergo some form of testing prior to sailing.
Those who are vaccinated will not be required to wear a face mask or maintain physical distance while onboard. Those that are fully vaccinated will have to show proof of their vaccines at least two weeks prior to sailing and show proof prior to boarding.
However, all guests will have to follow local guidance at the destinations they visit.
More good news is that the U.S. Senate passed a bill to remove obstacles to 2021 Alaska cruising.
The foreign- flagged cruise ships are allowed to temporarily sail between U.S. ports without a foreign port call, as is currently required by U.S. law.
Those ships ranged from Norwegian Bliss to Carnival Miracle, from Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam to Royal Caribbean International’s Serenade of the Seas, as well as some smaller vessels.
The bill is designed as a temporary fix and would be valid only until Canada removes its cruise ship ban which may happen sometime this summer.
Whether on land or at sea, dining has become increasingly more important to the overall travel experience. Certain cruise lines are scaling up their food and beverage offerings in an effort to capitalize in this trend.
With cruising resuming in many parts of the world, some aspects may still be a little different once onboard -- and ashore. For summer 2021, some -- not all --destinations are mandating that cruise passengers maintain their “bubble” even while on-shore.
What might be surprising to cruisers is that some countries are forbidding passengers on ships with full vaccination mandates to go on shore on their own.
What this means for cruisers, particularly on initial voyages setting sail this summer, is that some flexibility -- and a lot of research and triple-checking requirements -- will be necessary in order to make the most of your time ashore.
Whether independent exploration is allowed or not is relatively hidden from those looking to make a booking on these new, last-minute cruises online: a simple search of several new itineraries on various cruise lines by Cruise Critic failed to mention or denote which ports of call will require ship-sponsored shore excursions, and which will allow for independent exploration, but that’s where a travel agent can help you.
Barbara May is the owner of Travel Leaders. Travel Leaders has been in the travel industry for over 35 years and the agency is specialized in all types of travel! For the Memphis office, call 901-377-6600. Our Memphis office is located at 2765 Wolf Creek Pkwy., Ste. 104, Memphis, TN 38133, next door to David’s Bridal. Or if you are in Collierville, the number is 901-853-6200. The Collierville office is located at 155 N. Main Street, Ste. 104. As of now, we are open by appointment only! Give Travel Leaders a call and let us help you plan your next vacation!