When Will Cruises Restart?

Carnival Cruise Line has announced it will resume sailings from Galveston, Texas, and Miami in July.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Encore

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Updated May 12, 2021

Carnival Cruise Line has announced plans to restart sailings of three of its ships in July. The vessels that will operate are the Carnival Horizon, sailing from Miami, and the Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze, sailing from Galveston, Texas. The company has cancelled cruises for the rest of its fleet through July 30.

Carnival's restart plan follows recent updates to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's cruise guidelines. The CDC released a new order last week that requires all personnel and passengers to wear masks on public transport and transport hubs. Last month, 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 latter stance, revealed in a letter that was sent to cruise lines on April 29, was 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 blocked earlier this week. Two states, Alaska and Florida, have filed lawsuits against the CDC.

The congressional and state actions follow the travel industry's call to lift the order. "The standard of evidence should be exceptionally high for rules that effectively single out certain industries as other parts of the economy are allowed to reopen," said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow in late March. "Restrictions have taken a disproportionately heavy toll on the travel industry and our millions of workers, and the rule preventing cruise operations is uniquely specific."

Dow pleaded for a specific plan and timeline for the cruise industry. "It is economically imperative to find the pathways to reopening, and the evidence is clear that a layered approach to health and safety allows the safe resumption of travel," he continued. "We join the calls to identify the way toward lifting the Conditional Sail Order and allowing the phased resumption of cruise operations as quickly as possible."

The CDC lifted its no-sail order for ships operating in U.S. waters on Oct. 30, 2020, and went on to state that before resuming service, cruise lines must meet the requirements of the Conditional Sail Order.

In March, major U.S. cruise lines, including Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Princess Cruises, once again pushed their return to sailing, to comply with the November 2020 Conditional Sailing Order.  At press time, no new dates for U.S. sailings have been set.

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

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival plans to restart cruises on its Carnival Horizon, sailing from Miami, and its Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze, sailing from Galveston, in July. The company has cancelled cruises for the rest of its fleet through July 30.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity has extended the suspension of all sailings from the U.S. until June 30; it will restart North American sailings from St. Maarten on June 5.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line has canceled sailings on the Disney Fantasy, Disney Dream and Disney Wonder through May 31 and the Disney Magic through August 10.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, said all three of its brands would extend their suspensions through June 30.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean extended the suspension of all sailings from the U.S. until June 30; it will restart North American sailings from the Bahamas on June 12.

Princess Cruises 

Princess Cruises has cancelled cruises from Seattle through June 27; from Los Angeles. Ft. Lauderdale and Rome through June 30 and from Southampton, England, through September 25.

Virgin Voyages

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