There are hopes that the latest Omicron wave of the health crisis may soon peak, but for the time being it continues to cause havoc in cruising.
While there have been a number of ships seeing cases, the disruption has not been limited only to seeing positive tests. Some ships have had to adjust itineraries due to cases and restrictions — including canceling some trips altogether.
Now, Norwegian Cruise Line has announced it is canceling more cruises for the second time in a week.
Specifically, the cruise line provided updates to its schedule for five ships. This includes Norwegian Pearl, which recently cut a trip short and returned to Miami due to COVID:
- Norwegian Pearl sailings through January 17, 2022 (previously through January 14)
- Norwegian Dawn sailings through January 18, 2022
- Norwegian Getaway sailings through January 19, 2022
- Norwegian Escape sailings through January 22, 2022
- Norwegian Joy sailings through January 22, 2022
The new scheduling updates are in addition to previously announced changes made last week for six other vessels:
- Norwegian Sky sailings through February 25, 2022
- Pride of America sailings through February 26, 2022
- Norwegian Jade sailings through March 3, 2022
- Norwegian Star sailings through March 19, 2022
- Norwegian Sun sailings through April 19, 2022
- Norwegian Spirit sailings through April 23, 2022
According to the NCL website, the changes were made “due to ongoing travel restrictions.” If a passenger has a cruise that was impacted, they will automatically receive a refund to the original method of payment. In addition, they will also receive a 10% discount on booking their next cruise.
Disruptions in Sailing Despite Tough Protocols
Norwegian has stood out during the health crisis as being among the most aggressive in countering COVID cases. The cruise line requires all passengers and crew to be vaccinated, whereas some other lines allow small numbers of unvaccinated passengers to sail. It also went to court to win approval to require proof of vaccination when sailing from Florida.
In addition, the cruise line has opted for testing at the terminal right before boarding versus having passengers test within two days of sailing.
Even so, the Omicron wave has hit all cruise lines hard including Norwegian. With the high transmissibility and ability to more easily infect vaccinated people, the protocols that were highly effective against previous variants are facing a bigger challenge.
Of the 13 NCL ships tracked by the CDC, only one — Norwegian Sun — has “green” status, indicating no possible cases. It is currently sailing with crew only.
The good news is that some places that saw virus cases spike quickly have also seen them fall sharply as well. In addition, the protocols do appear to still be working to keep case counts lower than what might be seen on land, but not at zero.
Hopefully the cancellations prove to be limited and the wave passes shortly.