As promised, the eventual restart of cruising from the United States is leading to a crazy time for trying to plan a trip. Details continue to be worked out, health rules put in place (and then changed), and cruise lines keep adjusting schedules.
Now one major line — Norwegian Cruise Line — has reportedly announced a major change to its summer lineup as cruises look to finally sail again from the United States soon.
According to CruiseCritic.com, NCL has scrapped voyages aboard Norwegian Gem set to start from the Dominican Republic in August 2021. This comes as the cruise line had already cancelled upcoming sailings from Jamaica and rival Royal Caribbean removed trips that were set to sail from Bermuda aboard Vision of the Seas.
Just weeks ago Norwegian announced Caribbean cruises to great fanfare. With trips suspended in the United States, these cruises offered the closest departure points for U.S. cruise passengers who wanted to set sail this summer.
In fact, some executives pointed out the oddity that you could catch a flight out of the United States, board a cruise ship in another part of the world, and then fly back home… but you couldn’t cruise from a U.S. port.
As we noted, however, there seemed to be some issues with these foreign-based cruises. Specifically, the foreign departure ports meant any passenger from the United States had the extra cost and hassle of flying internationally to get to the ship.
As we explained weeks ago, this led to an odd situation where cruises departing from the United States — where it is still unsure exactly when they will sail — were more expensive than these Caribbean-based cruises that had been given the green light.
With it now being more likely than ever that cruise ships will return to the U.S. in the weeks ahead, it appears that NCL has decided to adjust schedules to take advantage.
In fact, a search of the Norwegian Cruise Line website no longer lists the Dominican Republic as a departure port and Norwegian Gem now shows the earliest trip available as departing New York in November 2021.
The cruise line’s first trip from the United States is set to depart from Seattle on August 7, aboard Norwegian Bliss (pending CDC approval). Norwegian has said it will require vaccines for all passengers and crew on the ship, allowing it to skip the test cruises currently required of lines sailing with unvaccinated passengers.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. CEO Frank Del Rio made headlines when he recently suggested his company could forgo sailing from Florida due to a law prohibiting business from requiring vaccines for service.