Cruises: Latest Updates and Covid-19 Protocols

Carnival Cruise Line has postponed the restart of several ships, and Disney Cruise Line's Disney Wonder will relaunch on Oct. 1.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Encore

Updated Sept. 3, 2021

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Carnival Cruise Line has rescheduled the restart of several ships. The Carnival Valor will begin sailing out of New Orleans on Nov. 1. The Legend will restart Nov. 14 in Baltimore. The Radiance's maiden voyage will now launch Dec. 13 from Long Beach, Calif, and the Conquest's restart has been postponed to Dec. 13 out of Miami. The sailings of Carnival's Liberty, Sunshine, Paradise, Ecstasy and Sensation have been delayed until 2022.

Disney Cruise Line's Wonder will relaunch on Oct. 1, sailing from San Diego to Mexico. It's the fourth Disney ship to return to service since the pandemic began. Passengers 12 and older must be fully vaccinated; those 11 and younger must provide a negative Covid-19 test.

Three Carnival Corp. brands have further delayed their relaunch on several ships: Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn. Holland America has cancelled winter sailings on the Volendam and Zandaam, pushing their restart date until May 2022. Princess Cruises' Island Princess and Diamond Princess will resume Caribbean and Japan sailings in the spring. Seabourn will launch Sojourn on June 6 in the Mediterranean after cancelling its 145-day World Cruise that was scheduled to depart from Los Angeles on Jan. 11.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now warns at-risk people — including older adults, people with medical conditions and pregnant women — to avoid cruises. Previously, the CDC had only advised against cruise travel for the unvaccinated. The guidance includes both ocean and river cruises.

Also in the news, the Bahamas has issued an emergency order banning cruise ships from entering any Bahamian port if there are passengers on board who aren't fully vaccinated. The order includes cruise lines' private islands, such as Royal Caribbean's Perfect Day at Coco Cay, Disney Cruise Line's Castaway Cay and Carnival Cruise Line's Half Moon Cay. The rule will be in effect from Sept. 3 through at least Nov. 1. In response to this, Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and Carnival announced that all passengers on cruises to the Bahamas between those dates must be fully vaccinated.

On Aug. 8, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams issued an order allowing cruise lines to require passengers to submit proof of vaccination before being allowed to sail. The ruling goes against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' executive order banning businesses in the state from mandating customers be vaccinated.

In her decision, the judge noted that "documentary proof of vaccination will expedite passengers' entry into virtually every single country and port." 

Following this latest measure, Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Gem departed from Miami on Aug. 15 with fully vaccinated guests and crew.

Prior to the most recent ruling, major cruise lines said they will continue to follow the rules outlined by the CDC in its Conditional Sail Order, despite the July 25 federal appeals court decision that determined the regulations should be viewed as "recommendations" for ships sailing from Florida ports.

Following that decision, Royal Caribbean International president and CEO Michael Bayley posted on social media that RCL would not deviate from the CDC's regulations. "We will continue to voluntarily follow all CDC guidelines and recommendations," he wrote.

Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Corp. also indicated they would follow the CDC's guidelines. In a statement, Carnival said, “The recent 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling is part of a broader legal challenge that may not be settled for some time. While these matters continue to be litigated, we intend to follow protocols consistent with CSO guidelines.”

This latest move affecting the U.S. cruise industry comes as passenger ships resume operations in the U.S.

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

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival restarted some cruises in Alaska, Miami and Galveston in July. The Carnival Valor will begin sailing out of New Orleans on Nov. 1. The Legend will restart Nov. 14 in Baltimore. The Radiance's maiden voyage is now Dec. 13 from Long Beach, Calif, and the Conquest's restart has been postponed to Dec. 13 out of Miami. The Liberty, Sunshine, Paradise, Ecstasy and Sensation have all been delayed until 2022. 

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity resumed U.S. sailings on June 26.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line resumed service Aug. 9 with the DisneyDream sailing from Port Canaveral. Passengers over the age of 2 must wear masks indoors except while in cabins and while eating or drinking. The cruise line has cancelled sailings on the DisneyFantasy until Sept. 11, on the DisneyWonder through Oct. 1 and on the DisneyMagic in the U.S. through Nov. 4.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line's first U.S. departure occurred Aug. 7. The rest of NCL's fleet will resume sailing in the fall.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean resumed Alaska cruises in July; the rest of the line's fleet began gradually restarting its U.S. sailings starting with the Freedom of the Seas, which departed from Miami July 2.

Princess Cruises 

Princess Cruises resumed Alaska sailings July 25; other itineraries are suspended through at least Sept. 25. The Island Princess and Diamond Princess will resume Caribbean and Japan sailings in the spring.

Virgin Voyages

The new cruise line has postponed the maiden sailing of the 2,700-passenger Scarlet Lady until Oct. 6.