The return of cruising is heating up, despite the recent rise of virus cases in the United States. In roughly the past month multiple lines, including Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Celebrity, Princess, and MSC have all returned to cruising from the U.S. Even more lines plan to follow in the days and weeks ahead.
While the initial start has been relatively slow, cruise lines are looking to ramp back up quickly in the months ahead. Case in point: Today, Royal Caribbean announced it plans to have a total 19 ships back sailing by the end of 2021, and its entire fleet back at sea in May 2022. That’s just a little more than nine months from now.
“We are excited and appreciative to be able to say with confidence when all of our ships will return, especially for travelers looking ahead to plan their getaways, ” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “It’s been incredible to see families come together again on board our ships sailing in the U.S., the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. And to know we’ll soon welcome more in a safe manner when our entire fleet is back by spring 2022 is wonderful.”
So far, the cruise line has returned six of its ships to sailing already. This includes:
- Adventure of the Seas | Nassau
- Freedom of the Seas | Miami
- Anthem of the Seas | Southampton
- Jewel of the Seas | Cyprus
- Odyssey of the Seas | Fort Lauderdale
- Serenade of the Seas | Seattle
With this latest announcement, the cruise line laid out its return to sail plans for the rest of the year and beyond. For the remainder of 2021, Royal Caribbean plans the following homeports for another 13 of its ships. This includes six ships returning in August alone:
- Allure of the Seas | Port Canaveral | August 8
- Ovation of the Seas | Seattle | August 13
- Symphony of the Seas | Miami | August 14
- Independence of the Seas | Galveston | August 15
- Harmony of the Seas | Barcelona | August 15
- Mariner of the Seas | Port Canaveral | August 23
- Oasis of the Seas | Cape Liberty | September 5
- Liberty of the Seas | Galveston | October 3
- Explorer of the Seas | San Juan | November 7
- Navigator of the Seas | Los Angeles | November 19
- Grandeur of the Seas | Barbados | December 5
- Brilliance of the Seas | Tampa | December 16
- Enchantment of the Seas | Baltimore | December 23
Come 2022, four other ships — Vision, Voyager, Radiance, and Rhapsody — are slated to return as well. The last ship to return is Rhapsody of the Seas, with plans to sail from Rome starting in May 2022.
100,000+ Passengers Sailed
Of course, as we’ve seen since March 2020, the return plans of cruise lines can change based on the virus. The good news is that so far the protocols put in place seem to be keeping cases to a minimum on cruise ships.
“More than 110,000 guests have cruised with us since December, and they’ve done so safely while enjoying the memorable vacations they trust we’ll bring to life,” Bayley said.
In order to return safely, returning cruises for the line have largely required the shot for passengers old enough to be eligible (16 years old, moving down to 12 years old starting August). Trips from Florida, where it’s illegal to require proof of vaccination, instead have stringent testing and insurance requirements for those sailing unvaccinated, along with restrictions on where they can go on the ship.
Recently the cruise line also rolled out a test requirement of all passengers — including those that are vaccinated — before they can sail on cruises longer than five days. This was put in place as the cruise line found positive cases among a handful of vaccinated passengers.
To be sure, Royal Caribbean’s announcement is a powerful statement in the company’s confidence of its return to cruising safely. For cruise fans eager to get back to sailing, it’s exciting news as the world hopes to return to normal in the months ahead.
You can see more about the upcoming schedule, including itineraries, on Royal Caribbean’s website.