Yes, cruises are back. They’re sailing from U.S. homeports to Alaska, the Caribbean and up and down the California Coast. From the West Coast, they’re sailing again to Mexico and Hawaii and, from foreign ports, within Europe. If cruising is on your bucket list and you’ve been waiting for a healthy way to do it, it’s time.
A recent CruiseCritic.com survey found that 80 percent of respondents preferred to sail with vaccinated passengers and crew. The major cruise lines heard them. “Our focus remains on the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we serve and visit,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, when committing to sailing fully vaccinated.
And what’s everyone’s top bucket list destination after a year indoors? Alaska of course.
Princess, Carnival and Holland America Line have announced they will be sailing to Alaska from Seattle from late July to October without any port stops in Canada, based on recent guidance from the CDC and close collaboration with Alaskan officials. These cruises are designed for fully vaccinated passengers and crew (total vaccination process completed at least 14 days prior to embarkation) with many enhanced health and safety protocols.
All the cruise lines are announcing new routes as well as past favorites.
Come fall, Holland America Line will restart cruising out of San Diego in California with 40 West Coast departures between September 2021 and April 2022. Look for cruises to Mexico, Hawaii and along the California coast aboard Koningsdam and Zuiderdam..
Holland America plans to bring back what past cruisers love: choice of restaurants, specialty dining options and room service. Lots of entertainment, too, in the main show lounge and other venues. Their notable talks, culinary demonstrations and cultural presentations are coming back, along with ship-sponsored port excursions following the local ports’ health guidelines.
The HAL four ships sailing the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale beginning Oct. 23, 2021 will again call at Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line’s award-winning private island.
At Princess Cruises, being able to plan September to November Alaska sailings for vaccinated travelers, from U.S. ports, was a welcome turn of events. “We appreciate the support of government and port officials who we worked closely with to make these travel opportunities available, in a thoughtful and safe way, for our guests.” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president.
Princess has also scheduled eight ships for cruises in the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexico, Hawaii and the California Coast. Passengers will be fully vaccinated. Among many safety measures, contactless service will be enhanced through their OceanMedallion wearable devices that enable touch-free boarding and disembarkation, ships maps, communication with others in your party, and stateroom services.
The new Carnival Mardi Gras makes her maiden voyage Saturday, July 31 from Port Canaveral in Florida, sailing to the Eastern and Western Caribbean. In addition to being fueled sustainably by Liquified Natural Gas, this ship has six distinct themed zones, the fleet’s longest ropes course and largest water park and the much-anticipated BOLT Ultimate Sea Coaster – a first for Carnival.
Much of the pent-up demand for cruising comes from parents and grandparents – especially at a time when so many families have been kept apart for more than a year. The Carnival Mardi Gras is ready to accommodate them; new family-friendly staterooms sleeping up to five have two bathrooms. Other popular-with-family routes in the Bahamas, Caribbean and Mexican Riviera will be handled by several revamped ships in Carnival’s fleet.
For those cruising with grown kids (or no kids) there are several options this summer to sail from international ports. The upscale all-inclusive, luxury Seabourn Cruise Line, known for its smaller ships, will be cruising in Greece and from Caribbean ports this summer, for example, while you can also sail in Greece and the Mediterranean this fall aboard Holland America’s Eurodam.
So cheers to a healthy restart. Having all passengers and crew vaccinated, while not popular in some state capitals, is in accordance with the CDC’s latest health and safety protocols. This is primarily because public health experts have found that those who are vaccinated are extremely unlikely to spread COVID-19 or, if they test positive, to require hospitalization.
While cruise ships may not be able to guarantee zero positive cases of COVID-19 at sea, they are fully prepared to contain any infection and avoid the super spreading encountered at the beginning of the pandemic.
“Cruising is back and having vaccinated ships for these cruises in 2021 ensures that we can deliver the experience just how our guests remember and expect,” said Antorcha.
“We’re ready to cruise!”
Author Eileen Ogintz has traveled the world with her family for her nationally syndicated travel column, Taking The Kids. A big fan of family cruising, she has authored this post about Atlas Ocean Voyages for sponsor FamilyTravelConsulting.com.