When Will Cruises Restart?

Carnival Cruise Line announces resumption of Texas sailings as governor bans vaccine requirements.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Encore

Updated June 8, 2021.

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On the same day that Carnival Cruise Line announced it would require passengers to be fully vaccinated to join sailings that will begin in July from Galveston, Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation banning businesses from requiring Covid-19 vaccination as a condition for service.

"Texans should have the freedom to go where they want without any limits, restrictions or requirements," Abbott said in a tweet. "Today, I signed a law that prohibits any [Texas] business or government entity from requiring vaccine passports or any vaccine information."

In response, Carnival released a statement that said, "We are evaluating the legislation recently signed into law in Texas regarding vaccine information. The law provides exceptions for when a business is implementing Covid protocols in accordance with federal law, which is consistent with our plans to comply with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's guidelines." 

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This latest political action follows an executive order signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stating that businesses cannot ask customers for proof of vaccination. Cruise ships that violate this law could be fined $5,000 for each passenger who is asked to provide vaccine information. 

Earlier this week, Royal Caribbean International stated it would not require passengers to be vaccinated for cruises that originate in Florida and Texas that are launching this summer, reversing a policy that required eligible passengers to be inoculated. 

“Guests are strongly recommended to set sail fully vaccinated, if they are eligible,” the Royal Caribbean said in a statement. “Those who are unvaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols, which will be announced at a later date.”

Last month, President Biden signed a bill allowing cruises to and from Alaska to resume this summer. In anticipation of the move, Carnival Corp., Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International announced plans to restart sailings in the state. Carnival said three of its brands — Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America and Princess Cruises — will start sailing to Alaska from Seattle in July; as with Carnival's other cruises, guests must be fully vaccinated.

Royal Caribbean announced it will begin cruises in July and Norwegian Cruise Line has started accepting bookings for Alaska sailings in August.

Carnival previously announced plans to restart sailings from other ports in July. Those vessels are the Carnival Horizon, sailing from Miami, and the Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze, sailing from Galveston, Texas. That announcement followed recent updates to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's cruise guidelines. In April, the organization announced that cruise lines can skip test sailings if they can show that 98 percent of a ship's crew and 95 percent of its passengers will be fully vaccinated, allowing sailings to resume from U.S. ports by a mid-July.

The new order is an update to the original Conditional Sail Order, which outlined a rigorous phased return to the seas designed to mitigate the risk of spreading Covid-19. The order mandated that companies run trial sailings prior to passenger sailings to test coronavirus mitigation protocols, followed by a 60-day certification process before the cruise lines could resume service.

For cruise lines that intend to go forward with the simulated voyages (without fulfilling the vaccination requirement stated above), the CDC said it would now review and respond to applications for those voyages within five days instead of 60 days. 

The CDC said the change was the result of twice-weekly meetings with cruise lines over the past month. Additional pressure was also being applied from the travel industry and Congress. A Senate bill introduced in early April, the Careful Resumption Under Improved Safety Enhancements Act, known as the CRUISE Act, called for the CDC to lift the Conditional Sail Order and issue guidance for cruise lines to begin sailing this summer; it was followed by a similar House bill. The Senate bill was then blocked, and two states, Alaska and Florida, filed lawsuits against the CDC. 

Following are the latest developments for major cruise lines. For further details, contact the operators directly.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival plans to restart cruises in Alaska, Miami and Galveston in July. 

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity has extended the suspension of all sailings from the U.S. until June 26.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line has canceled sailings on the Disney Dream through Aug. 6, on the Disney Fantasy through Aug. 28, on the Disney Wonder through Sept. 19 and on the Disney Magic in the U.S. through Nov. 4.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line currently is taking bookings for Alaska cruises in August. The rest of NCL's fleet has cancelled sailings from U.S. ports through at least July 31.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean will resume Alaska cruises beginning July 2021; the rest of the line's sailings from the U.S. remain suspended until June 30.

Princess Cruises 

Princess Cruises will resume Alaska sailings on July 25; other itineraries are suspended through at least June 30.

Virgin Voyages

The new cruise line has postponed the maiden sailing of the 2,700-passenger Scarlet Lady until June 30.