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Half Moon Cay, Bahamas: What You Need to Know (2021)

Half Moon Cay is an idyllic castaway island in the Bahamas with a white sandy beach lapped by calm cerulean blue waters. Privately owned by the Carnival Corporation, this port of call is exclusively used by cruises that include this heavenly hideaway on their itinerary.

Although there’s some steep competition from other private cruise-owned islands, Half Moon Cay is frequently listed #1. This is mainly due to the extensive beach with its super-soft white sand and diverse activities such as horse riding.

Formerly known as Little San Salvador Island, this laid-back island covers 2400 acres (less than 4 square miles) and much of it has been left as a nature preserve with native vegetation for nesting birds and wildlife.

Currently cruisers are transported ashore in tenders, but a new deep-water dock is planned for the near future. Once ashore, expect to enjoy a beautiful day on the beach with plenty of activities for watersports, boat trips, swimming, snorkeling and relaxing in the sun.

Entrance to Half Moon Cay, BahamasEntrance to Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
Entrance to Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock.com)

The island has a Welcome Center with information and excursions, a church for weddings, an ice cream parlour, bar, food pavilion, and restrooms. Look forward to shopping for souvenirs, local crafts, and beachwear at the Straw Market, visit the watersports center, go horse riding on the beach or book a treatment at the Half Moon Salon. Young visitors can enjoy the Half Moon Lagoon Aqua Park with slides and pirate ship.

Cruisers can book private cabanas, stingray encounters and water-based adventures ahead of time. It’s the perfect beach day with all the delicious food, cocktails and fun you would expect onboard, but transferred to this beautiful island. So sit back and read on to enjoy a virtual visit to Half Moon Cay!

Where is Half Moon Cay?

Half Moon Cay is located midway between the islands of Eleuthera and Cat Island in the Bahamas. It is about 100 miles (160km) southeast of Nassau, the Bahamian capital, and 277 miles southeast of Miami.

History of Half Moon Cay

The private island of Half Moon Cay was formerly known by the less romantic-sounding name of “Little San Salvador Island”. The name was changed to reflect the spectacular crescent-shaped beach at the west end of the island which is used by cruisers.

Half Moon was also the name of the ship belonging to 17th century explorer Henry Hudson which features on the Holland America logo, providing a nice connection between the island and the cruise company.

Half Moon Cay SignHalf Moon Cay Sign
Half Moon Cay Sign

The cay was originally bought by Norwegian Cruise Line and sold in 1996 for $6 million to Holland America Line (HAL) which is part of the Carnival Group. HAL developed around 50 acres as an exclusive private luxury resort for its cruise passengers and manages the remaining 2,400 acres as a natural habitat for wildlife.

The island had no infrastructure so construction involved installing electric generators, reverse osmosis water plants for freshwater, sewer treatment, and incinerators. A marina was dredged and a pier constructed for the tenders and the developed areas were raised by 14 foot to be above the flood plain.

Future Plans to Develop a Port at Half Moon Cay

Future developments include developing a deep-water dock allowing cruise ships to moor right next to a new pier. Currently the shallow waters mean that visiting cruisers must use a tender (motor boat) to transfer from the cruise ship to the island.

However, in 2019, Carnival Corporation signed an agreement with the Bahamas government to construct a new port at Half Moon Cay, at an estimated total cost of $90 million. The work was due to start mid-2020 but has been delayed. The plans exceed the requirements laid down by the USCG in order to withstand even Category 5 hurricanes.

Which Cruise Lines Visit Half Moon Cay?

Half Moon Cay is frequently visited by Holland America cruise ships and some Carnival cruise ships. Not all itineraries include Half Moon Cay as a port of call, so check the details before booking your cruise.

What’s the Weather Like at Half Moon Cay?

Like the rest of the Bahamas, the island enjoys a cool summer Mediterranean climate with daytime temperatures very rarely exceeding 90°F (32°C) in summer. The island enjoys an average of 320 days of sunshine each year and maintains warm seas and balmy temperatures tempered by sea breezes.

Half Moon Cay Beach Before the Guests Arrive!Half Moon Cay Beach Before the Guests Arrive!
Half Moon Cay Beach Before the Guests Arrive!

The island has two seasons: a wet season from May to October and a dry season through winter and spring which coincides with the main months for Caribbean cruises. The northeast trade winds keep the island pleasantly fresh.

Winters are dry and sunny with temperatures averaging 77°F (25°C). In summer, temperatures reach 87°F (31°C) with some heavy afternoon storms at times.

Hurricane season officially runs from June to November, but tropical storms most likely affect the Bahamas between July and October. The island has been affected by two hurricanes in the past: Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Hurricane Dorian in 2019.   

Getting to Half Moon Cay

Half Moon Cay is surrounded by shallow waters and reefs and there is no currently deep-water dock for the cruise ships. Passengers have to be ferried to and from the cay using tenders (ship’s lifeboats) which takes about 20 minutes.

Tender Boat Between Carnival Cruise ship and Half Moon CayTender Boat Between Carnival Cruise ship and Half Moon Cay
Tender Boat Between Carnival Cruise ship and Half Moon Cay (Photo Credit: Igor_Koptilin / Shutterstock.com)

It can take a while to get everyone ashore so the best advice is either to get up early and be one of the first in line or hang around enjoying a leisurely breakfast and relaxing until the rush is over.

Plans have been approved by the Bahamian government for a new port and pier to be built. This will allow future cruise ships to dock and passengers can walk ashore.

Half moon Cay MapHalf moon Cay Map
Half moon Cay Map (Photo Credit: May_Lana / Shutterstock.com)

The advantages are many. It will provide more time for passengers to enjoy the island and supplies can more easily be transferred ashore to stock the bars and eateries. Also, a permanent port will avoid any problems associated with rough seas which can affect ship-to-shore transfers by tender.   

Things to Do in Half Moon Cay

Beaches

One of the best features about the private island is the powder-soft white sand stretching around the 2.5-mile-long Half Moon Beach. It is nicer than some other private islands such as Princess Cays which has coarser sand and some rocky areas.

Half Moon Cay BeachHalf Moon Cay Beach
Half Moon Cay Beach (Photo Credit: JIN TAN / Shutterstock.com)

The further you walk from the ship, the quieter the beach will be so if you’re looking for your own private spot, you will find it here.

There are plenty of lounge chairs and hammocks dotted around the island for relaxing, napping and absorbing the gorgeous views.

Watersports

Surrounded by clear warm waters, the cruise line private island is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Close to shore there are not much fish due all the visitors but you can join a boat trip to go snorkeling and diving in these clear warm waters.

Sailboats at Half Moon Cay Island

Other watersports activities that you can sign up for include parasailing, fishing, glass-bottom boat rides, jet skiing, sailing Hobie catamarans and sunfish sailboats, stand-up paddle-boarding, and kayaking.

Near the church there’s a sports center where you can rent snorkels, floats and sports equipment or sign up for some team beach sports.

Sailing and Watersports on Half Moon Cay

If you are a lover of watersports and whatever is listed so far doesn’t fit your bill why not sail on a Hobie cat, sunfish sailboat or a windsurfing sailboat? You can hire any of these watercraft from one of the three water sports centers available on the island. Alternatively, hire water bikes for a fun time on the water or go kayaking at Bonefish Lagoon.

Watersports at Half Moon CayWatersports at Half Moon Cay
Watersports at Half Moon Cay (Igor_Koptilin / Shutterstock.com)

Sports and Games

The cay has volleyball and basketball courts, horseshoes, shuffleboard and walking trails so there’s plenty for active cruisers to enjoy.

Your cruise entertainment crew will organize some team games and fun activities while ashore so get ready to join an impromptu game.

Take a Hike

Half Moon Cay has a contrasting mix of green vegetation, white sand and blue sea. Out of the 2400 acres of natural beauty, only 2% ( about 50 acres) has been developed, leaving at least 2350 acres of indigenous flora and fauna to explore.

There are nature trails all over the island either on hard pavement or sandy trails. These paths lead to some of the island’s shore excursion start points such as Stingray Cove, Bonefish Lagoon and the Pegasus Ranch where they keep the horses.

The cay has nature trails for spotting visiting sea birds and there’s a fitness trail with exercise stations along the way.

Birding

There are numerous native birds and waterfowl species in the Bahamas for birdwatching fans. There are at least 47 different species of birds spotted at Half Moon Cay between 1982-2012, according to a survey by Majestic Feathers.

The most common birds are gulls and waterfowl such as sooty terns, roseate terns, and noody terns. Other birds include wading birds such as egrets, ruddy ducks, herons and Caribbean coots. These can be spotted in the brackish lagoon which has been designated as a bird preserve by the Bahamian National Trust.

Don’t forget those binoculars for watching close up!

Get a Massage

Get a professional massage by a professional therapist in an air-conditioned cabana. The team of beauticians aboard Holland America Line offer professional massage services while on the island.

Island Massage on Half Moon cay, BahamasIsland Massage on Half Moon cay, Bahamas
Island Massage on Half Moon cay, Bahamas (Photo Credit: Solarisys / Shutterstock.com)

Hair Braiding

If you like interacting with other cultures then enjoy the diversity of the Bahamians by engaging in some of their cultures such as hair braiding.

Half Moon Cay is uninhabited so locals from the nearby island of Eleuthera ferry across to the island when there are cruise visitors. They teach you their ways, dance culture and also braid your hair to provide a more local look.

Pirate Fun for Youngsters

There’s plenty of fun for young cruisers at Half Moon Cay. There is a special lagoon aqua park with island-themed action fun area where kids can play in the safe shallow water.

Pirate Ship on Half Moon Cay BeachPirate Ship on Half Moon Cay Beach
Pirate Ship on Half Moon Cay Beach (Photo Credit: Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock.com)

They can enjoy being sprayed with water from the pirate ship’s cannons or play on the shark, dolphin, whale and octopus-shaped water toys provided.

There’s also a playground nearby that is fully equipped for climbing and scrambling. You might want to buy or bring your own small beach toys such as a sand bucket and spade for children to make sand castles on the beach.

Get Married!

Getting married as part of your luxury cruise to Half Moon Cay is a great way to have a memorable wedding ceremony without it costing an arm and a leg! When you step off the tender ship and walk towards the island’s welcome center, you will notice a beautiful white church built in Bahamian cultural style.

Half Moon Cay ChapelHalf Moon Cay Chapel
Half Moon Cay Chapel (Photo Credit: Solarisys / Shutterstock.com)

This is for those who plan on getting married on the island or perhaps want to renew their vows. You can do this at the church, have your special event captured with professional photographs and then have your reception on the island. The rest of the cruise is the perfect honeymoon!

Note: If you’re planning to get married or renew your vows on the island, you need to book with your cruise prior to sailing. You will be required to provide all necessary documentation as this is a legal wedding ceremony.

Half Moon Cay Cabanas

Cabanas on Half Moon Cay are particularly advantageous with luxury lounge chairs in a prime beachfront location. They include air-conditioning, table and chairs for dining, a refrigerator stocked with snacks and drinks, ceiling fan, misting fans, snorkel equipment and floating mats.

Half Moon Cay CabanasHalf Moon Cay Cabanas
Half Moon Cay Cabanas (Photo Credit: Solarisys / Shutterstock.com)

At a cost of around $319 for up to 4 guests, it can be good value for those wanting their own peaceful chunk of paradise.

Upgrade to the Private Oasis Cabana and you’ll get your own two-storey luxury beach shack complete with iPod docking station, grill, showers and misting station.

It comes with a fridge stocked with drinks and a butler to pour them for you! If that doesn’t impress you, perhaps the 8-person hot tub will! You need to pre-book and the cost is around $1500 for up to 12 guests.

Shopping is all part of any port of call and Half Moon Cay has some interesting local stores and retail services. There is a small Post Office where you can buy beautiful Bahamian stamps and postcards. You may even want to go the extra mile and mail one to yourself as a memoir of your vacation!

Local Stores at Half Moon CayLocal Stores at Half Moon Cay
Local Stores at Half Moon Cay (Photo Credit: Solarisys / Shutterstock.com)

A convenience store is also located near the Welcome Center where you can purchase snacks, sunscreen and other beach essentials.

Souvenirs are a great way to remember your trip and the Straw Market is the place to source them during your visit to Half Moon Cay. You will find some very unique gifts including beachwear and locally made ocean-themed costume jewelry.

You can even purchase clamshells that are farmed nearby and contain natural pearls. Purchase and open your clamshell and have the beautiful pearl made into a ring or pendant while you wait. It’s a unique and lovely way to celebrate your visit to the Bahamas. 

Also Read: Things to Do in Nassau, Bahamas While On a Cruise

Half Moon Cay Cruise Excursions

Part of the fun of cruising is joining in some tours and excursions at ports of call to try something new. Half Moon Cay is no exception. You can sign up for any of these tours and activities ahead of time to ensure you get a place.

Stingray Adventure

This experience takes place at Stingray Cove where you will be given an informative orientation about stingrays from a professional guide.

Stingray Adventure at Half Moon Cay, BahamasStingray Adventure at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
Stingray Adventure at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (Photo Credit: Solarisys / Shutterstock.com)

They will then take you to an area where you can interact with these amazing marine creatures by stroking their velvety wings as they swim by.

Snorkeling Tours

These snorkeling expeditions include use of a snorkel, mask and fins. A boat will take you further offshore where you can visit the coral reef which is bursting with colorful marinelife, fish and anemones.

It has many beautiful corals which are home to a wide variety of sea creatures. A professional snorkeling guide will assist you and help you identify the sea life in their habitat.

Horseback Riding

One of the most unique shore excursions at Half Moon Cay is horseback riding. Explore more of the island along a winding trail to the highest point for panoramic views. On the return trip you can ride the horses through the shallow waters in a thrilling beach ride.

Horse Riding Along Half Moon Cay BeachHorse Riding Along Half Moon Cay Beach
Horse Riding Along Half Moon Cay Beach

Eco Bike Tour

With 2400 acres of beautiful island to explore, what better way to get around than a bike and hike combo? Enjoy scenic views of the island while cycling to Pegasus Ranch before hiking past Bonefish Lagoon and Stingray Park.

Tram Calypso Tour

Join the one-hour tram tour around Half Moon Cay visiting many of the highlights and off-the-beaten-path attractions.

Guided Walk

Join a local guide on a 90-minute walk seeing nature at its best. Learn about the cay’s pirate history and identify different plants, herbs and animals including native sea grapes, tropical sea palms, bananaquit birds and curly-tailed lizards.

Food and Drink on Half Moon Cay

Restaurants, beach barbecues and bars at Half Moon Cay are all run by crew members from the ship. You get the same high-quality dishes and superb choices on the island as you would expect onboard, but the island’s surroundings are particularly special!

Food Pavilion Which is Run by the ShipFood Pavilion Which is Run by the Ship
Food Pavilion Which is Run by the Ship (Photo Credit: Solarisys / Shutterstock.com)

Cruisers can dine free at the Food Pavilion which has open-air seating and serves a range of dishes including burgers, salads, hot dogs and fresh fruit. There’s also a complimentary beach barbecue.

In addition, there’s an ice cream parlor for ordering your favorite sundae and a Lobster Shack, both requiring an additional fee which is charged to your stateroom keycard.

The Lobster Shack has a mouthwatering menu of grilled spiny lobster with rice, Caribbean coconut beans and salsa (pineapple or sofrito), so why not treat yourself? Prepared by chefs from the ship, it’s a great chance to enjoy a magnificent lobster feast for around $20.

Rumrunners bat at Half Moon CayRumrunners bat at Half Moon Cay
Rumrunners bar (Photo Credit: Solarisys / Shutterstock.com)

If you fancy a fruity cocktail, icy beer, frosty frozen drink or soda there are several bars dotted around the island including the Rumrunners Bar, Lookout Bar, Bell Bar and the “I Wish I Could Stay Here Forever” Bar! The traditional Bahamas drink is the rum-based Bahama Mama or the non-alcoholic lemon-lime drink called Switcha.

Be aware that you will have to pay for all drinks while on Half Moon Cay, even if you have purchased an all-inclusive drinks package. This is because the island bars do not have any computers. 

Other Cruise-Owned Islands

With the growing popularity for cruises with ports of call on private islands. other cruise lines also have their own private islands in the Caribbean.

These include:

Half Moon Cay FAQs

Where is Half Moon Cay?

Half Moon Cay is in the Bahamas, midway between Eleuthera and Cat Island. It is about 100 miles (160km) southeast of Nassau and 277 miles southeast of Miami.

Does anyone live on Half Moon Cay?

Half Moon Cay is uninhabited. Developed as a luxury beach resort, it is used as a private port of call for Carnival and Holland America cruisers. About 100 locals work on the island and arrive by ferry from Eleuthera when there are visiting cruise ships.

How large is Half Moon Cay island?

Half Moon Cay is fairly small, covered 2400 acres which is less than 4 square miles. It has a 2.5 mile long crescent beach of white sand which is the main focal point for cruise activities.

Which cruise lines visit Half Moon Cay?

Half Moon Cay is used primarily by Holland America cruise ships and by some Carnival cruises when not required by HAL.

The ultimate guide on things to do at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, a private island destination operated Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line. The beach here is stunning and a must visit for a vacation.The ultimate guide on things to do at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, a private island destination operated Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line. The beach here is stunning and a must visit for a vacation.

Virgin Voyages Cancels Cruises Through June 2021

Although vaccines have been released and are being administered widespread, the fight is not out the pandemic just yet. This means Virgin Cruises has been forced to cancel even more voyages for its first vessel, Scarlet Lady.

The cruise line is offering guests a wide range of opportunities to rebook or be refunded. The cruise line offers additional benefits to those passengers who have seen their cruises canceled more than once.

One Year To Date

It has been exactly one year since Virgin Cruises was first forced to cancel its inaugural season in New York City. The company was one of the first to do so last year and has, like other cruise lines, been forced to postpone its maiden season multiple times.

Cruises have now been canceled from May 9th through June 30th, 2021. Guests that this latest round of cancellations has impacted have two different options unless their voyage has been canceled before.

The first option for guests is to avail of a 200% Future Voyage Credit of the amount paid to date towards the voyage fare, which can be applied to another sailing, rather than a refund.

That’s double the value of their existing paid voyage fare. The FVC is valid for redemption up to a year after the original voyage start date for any sailing with available inventory through 2022.

Also Read: Why Are Cruises Still Being Canceled?

The second option for affected guests is a refund option, which means a full refund of everything paid along with a Future Voyage Credit equal to 25% of the existing paid voyage fare to be used on a future sailing.

For those unlucky guests who have seen their voyages postponed multiple times now, Virgin cruises offer a third option, where the line re-instates any previous Future Voyage Credit to be used on any open voyage through 2021 and 2022.

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Cruise ShipVirgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Cruise Ship
Photo: Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages Fleet

Delivered in February 2020 by Fincantieri in Italy, Scarlet Lady is the first of four new cruise ships constructed for Virgin Voyages, which offers an Adults-Only and Rebellious Luxe cruise experience, according to its website.

Scarlet Lady comes in at about 110,000 gross tonnes and is 278 meters long by 38 meters wide, with 1,400 guest cabins for a capacity of 2,770 passengers and another 1,160 crew members. Scarlet Lady‘s sister ship, Valiant Lady, is currently in the final construction stages at the Fincantieri yard in Italy. Valiant Lady is scheduled for launch in November 2021.

Delivery of the remaining two vessels is anticipated in 2021, 2022, and 2023, respectively.

Scarlet Lady is now scheduled to sail on her maiden voyage at the beginning of July. Her first cruise, which will see the ship sail from Port Miami, will be a 5-day voyage to Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, and a stop at Virgin’s The Beach Club at Bimini’ for the inaugural celebrations.

From mid-October, she will be homeporting in the new Terminal V that Virgin is building in Miami. The 200,000 square feet new terminal building is set to be completed by November, just in time for the arrival of Virgin’s second vessel, Valiant Lady.

Main Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock.com

Scarlet Lady Docked in MiamiScarlet Lady Docked in Miami

Odyssey of the Seas Completes Conveyance on Ems River

Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ship, Odyssey of the Seas, completed its latest construction milestone after a 10 mile conveyance on the Ems River.

The conveyance is a process unique to cruise ships built at Meyer Werft, as the shipyard is situated inland along the Ems River, and the ship must make the journey backward and down the river to get to the North Sea.

Boasting all-new and first-to-brand experiences, Odyssey of the Seas will raise the bar when it comes to all aspects of the cruise experience. The innovative Quantum Ultra Class ship’s combination of iconic Quantum Class favorites and new-to-class features include the following.

SeaPlex, the largest indoor activity center at sea, will now offer guests an indoor and outdoor activity complex. Think sports courts, bumper cars, laser tag, digital interactive games, jumbo screens, a DJ booth and more; this is the ultimate, high-adrenaline playground for all ages. The two-level venue will also be home to the first-in-class Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, where guests can catch their team on dozens of screens and enjoy a menu of game-day favorites and icy-cold drafts on tap.

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Odyssey’s pool deck is a vibrant oasis with additional uncovered pool space to optimize sun-soaked vacation experiences. Guests can lounge on the Caribbean-inspired pool deck, unwind in the four whirlpools or shady hammocks and casitas on decks 14 and 15, and cool off with freshly made cocktails at the two-level signature bar, The Lime & Coconut.

Hunger pangs will be alleviated with Odyssey’s diverse range of dining options. Never before seen in North America is Teppanyaki, the restaurant serving authentic Asian flavors cooked in one of Japan’s traditional styles. Travelers can also expect to find Royal Caribbean favorites, including sushi and sashimi at Izumi, hand-cut steaks at Chops Grille, the Chef’s Table epicurean, intimate experience and imaginative cuisine at Wonderland.

View Prices on Cruises on Odyssey of the Seas

Bringing guests a taste of Italy is Royal Caribbean’s first Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar. From hand-tossed pizzas delivered straight from the pizza oven to a wine list that ranges from Sangiovese to Super Tuscan, travelers can enjoy traditional, rustic Italian dishes and fresh Mediterranean flavors.

Whether it’s surfing the waves on the signature FlowRider surf simulator or feeling the freedom of freefall on RipCord by iFly – the skydiving simulator – Odyssey will satisfy any adrenaline seeker. Not forgetting the 40-foot rock wall and gravity-defying SkyPad, the virtual reality and bungee trampoline experience that transports guests to another world. Those looking for unrivaled 360-degree views have the North Star glass observation capsule that extends 300 feet (91 meters) above the ocean.

Guests can expect Royal Caribbean’s signature productions and famed Quantum Class entertainment in teched-out venues, complete with immersive technology, unparalleled special effects and world-leading talent. Fusing art and technology, Two70 boasts 270-degree panoramic windows with sweeping ocean views in an expansive open-area living room, which transforms in plain sight into a 135-foot-wide (41 meters) and 22-foot-tall (6 meters) screen powered by Vistarama technology.

At night, the iconic venue becomes a multidimensional theater, where a troupe of six agile Roboscreens come to life in sync with music, special effects and live performers and aerialists. Guests can then head to Music Hall for an ever-changing setlist of live performances and epic cover bands, but not before grabbing a drink served by robots at the Bionic Bar.

Odyssey of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s second Quantum Ultra class cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean’s Richard Fain Provides Update on Vaccine Requirement

Richard D. Fain delivered a video message today with the hope of a better future, and patience, as the end is not quite here yet. He also talked about no decision yet on vaccine requirements for guests.

The news of Odyssey of the Seas operating her maiden season in Israel was an incredibly positive step towards cruising resuming. However, the cruise line requires guests over 16 to be vaccinated onboard. News met with skepticism by avid cruisers, while others have been overjoyed by the prospect of being able to set sail.

That is just a small part of the larger message that Fain delivered, which was one of increasing positivity and looking forward to a better tomorrow.

It’s No Time For Dessert Just Yet

Richard D. Fain is a man who likes his desserts, that much is clear after the Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group posted his video message to price a situation update.

In the video message, Mr. Fain announced the cruise company is going full steam ahead to a new chapter after celebrating a full year of virtually no cruises worldwide. It has been a year of frustration, disappointment, anger, and uncertainty. You can watch the full video message below:

However, work is being done to prepare the company and its vessels for a healthy return to service. Keep in mind that the period, until ships are sailing in any worthwhile numbers, will be the most frustrating one, according to Mr. Fain:

“Ironically, while we are now entering what should be the most positive phase of the process, it may also be one of the most frustrating phases. These are the most hopeful days we’ve had in a long time. But as we get closer to our goal, we inevitably also get more impatient to reach it. It’s like eating dinner.”

The message came with a word of warning though, while the situation looks promising now, it could very well end up badly again for the various cruise lines:

“This is the current trend and we need to be careful that we don’t screw it up as eager as I am to get to dessert, especially if it involves chocolate cake. I know I should eat my entree before I eat the cake.”

Why Did Royal Caribbean Go To Israel?

Fain also went into detail about the choice of bringing Odyssey of the Seas to Israel. Companies have been favoring Spain and Italy in the last six months to cruise from. Costa, MSC, TUI, and others have all been sailing from these countries. Therefore Israel seems to be a strange choice.

According to Fain, the choice was clear. Israel currently has the highest number of vaccinations in the world. The country has also shown the vaccines have been 99% effective against anyone getting seriously ill.

Royal Caribbean's Odyssey of the SeasRoyal Caribbean's Odyssey of the Seas
Photo Courtesy: Royal Caribbean International

The fact the company has chosen, together with the Israeli government, to sail only with Israeli guests who have been vaccinated has been an easy decision:

“This is a big deal. It will give us a new opportunity to demonstrate in a tangible way, how we can accomplish our goal of operating cruises in an appropriate and safe manner. The question is no longer when will cruising resume. It already has resumed. Odyssey of the Seas will be our fifth ship operating around the world and is very much a part of our ramp up.”

Does This Mean All Ships Will Require Vaccinations?

Royal Caribbean has been operating ships for many months now. There have been ships sailing in Singapore and the Canary Islands without incidents whatsoever. It looks like the Odyssey of the Seas is more an isolated vessel than a benchmark for others.

Related: How Important a Vaccine Could Be for Cruises in 2021

Realistically speaking, there will be cases onboard ships, especially as we start seeing more and more ships sailing; this will inevitably happen. As Richard Fain states, as long as there are procedures in place, this will be minimized:

“I believe it’s possible to establish strong protocols to deal with those cases. When they arise, our goal is to isolate individual cases. So they don’t become an outbreak, which ruins the vacation of everyone else. Our isolation and contact tracing protocols will help isolate the few cases that do occur. Clearly, the experiences in Singapore, Germany, Italy, and the Canary Islands are demonstrating that safe and healthy cruising is possible.”

Will the cruise line be requiring vaccinations from all onboard?

“So this raises the question of whether we will require vaccines on all of our families. The answer is we don’t know yet. Clearly, widespread vaccinations are the fastest and the best way to get this disease under control. Whether we will require vaccines of all of our guests on all of our ships, hasn’t been decided yet, but we are prepared to go where the science leads us.”

COVID-19 VaccineCOVID-19 Vaccine

Positivity Rules

While we aren’t there yet, the positivity in Mr. Fain’s message is something that we haven’t seen much in the last year from any CEO from any major cruise line. Could it be that we are on the way back? It is certainly starting to look like it.

Worth Reading: Royal Caribbean Reports Huge Losses and Realistic About 2021

Countries are re-opening, Cruises are sailing, vaccination programs are running, and soon we will see Odyssey of the Seas, sailing in Greece, Cyprus, and Israel. While Odysseus was the victor in Greek mythology, maybe Odyssey will be the victor in the fight to restart cruising.

Royal Caribbean's Richard FainRoyal Caribbean's Richard Fain

Virgin Cancels Cruises Through the End of June

Virgin Voyages, the new adults only cruise line, has announced another wave of cancelations of cruises from Florida to the Caribbean and Bahamas.

Virgin Voyages had all cruises canceled on their first cruise ship, Scarlet Lady, through May 8, 2021. The cruise line has now canceled all cruises through June 30, 2021.

Guests who were booked on one of the canceled cruises can choose from the following two options:

1. 200% in Future Voyage Credit of the amount you’ve paid to date toward your voyage fare, which you can apply to another sailing, rather than a refund. That’s double the value of your existing paid voyage fare. The FVC is valid for redemption up to a year after the original voyage start date for any sailing with open inventory through 2022.

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2. A full refund of everything paid along with a Future Voyage Credit equal to 25% of your existing paid voyage fare to be used on a future sailing.

MSC Seaside to Resume Sailings in Europe from May

Not all cruises are on hold as MSC Cruises has already kickstarted sailings with the MSC Grandiosa. The cruise line has announced that another one of its advanced vessels will begin sailing in May 2021.

MSC Seaside to Resume Cruises

Even though most cruise ships remain on hold worldwide, MSC continues to move forward on new ways to keep some of its ships moving. MSC Seaside, a popular MSC vessel that has been sailing out of Miami in the past will begin cruises this May for the first time since the suspension of operations.

The ship will offer a new itinerary and join MSC Grandiosa in the Mediterranean from May 1, 2021. MSC Seaside will offer 7-night cruises calling Genoa, Valletta in Malta, and Civitavecchia with two first-time ports of call – Siracusa in Sicily and Taranto in Puglia. Embarkation will be available in all Italian ports.

Related: Must-Know Things About the MSC Seaside Cruise Ship

MSC Seaside Cruise ShipMSC Seaside Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: byvalet / Shutterstock.com

When the vessel begins sailing there will be new health and safety measures in place. The cruise line has already proved that ships can sail safely with no outbreak onboard. Protocols have already been well tested since first being introduced in August 2020.

Measures will include universal testing at embarkation as well as mid-cruise, weekly testing of the crew, social distancing, the wearing of masks in public areas, only protected shore excursions as well as enhanced deep sanitation and ongoing cleaning procedures.

New Itinerary from MSC Cruises

So the new itinerary for MSC Seaside will include calls to Siracusa and Taranto which are both in Italy. The first voyage will depart on May 1, 2021, out of Genoa and it will be a 7-night voyage.

Aerial View of Taranto, ItalyAerial View of Taranto, Italy
Aerial View of Taranto, Italy (Photo Courtesy: MSC Cruises)

The itinerary will include the two new ports of call of Siracusa in Sicily and Taranto in Puglia along with calls to Malta and Civitavecchia. This itinerary will be sailing five times during the month of May 2021 departing on May 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29.

MSC Grandiosa Extention

With MSC Grandiosa’s successful return to service, the cruise line has decided to extend its season through to the end of May. The ship will call to at the Italian ports of Genoa, Civitavecchia, Naples, Palermo as well as Valetta in Malta.

The ship has been among the very few cruise ships that have actually been sailing with guests since August 2020. Since then, more than 40,000 cruise passengers have enjoyed a cruise vacation safely on the ship.

Worth Reading: MSC Grandiosa Cruise Ship: Overview & Must-Know Things

It is important to know that the cruises for MSC Grandiosa and MSC Seaside are not available to anyone. Itineraries are currently available to residents from Schengen countries and Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania.

Main Photo Credit: Ivan Sarfatti / MSC Cruises

MSC Seaside AftMSC Seaside Aft

Viking Previewing New Cruise Ships This Week

Viking will be previewing their new cruise ships and itineraries for the Nile River on Viking.TV this week.

Every day, Viking releases new livestreams as they allow you to explore the world from the comfort of your home during the current cruise shutdown.

Each session begins each day at 11:00am PST / 2:00pm EST. Content is also taped and available to view the following day on Viking.TV.  This week’s schedule is as follows:

Monday, March 1 – Join Viking for a special look at Highclere Castle’s Egyptian Collection with the 8th Earl of Carnarvon. Lord Carnarvon will tell us more about the history and artifacts at the castle today.

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Tuesday, March 2 – Resident Historian Tuesdays – Viking Resident Historian, Dr. Michael Fuller, will share his lecture “History of Egypt,” exploring the legacies over the millennia, from pharaohs to modern presidents.

Wednesday, March 3 – Wanderlust Wednesdays – Learn more about Viking offerings in Egypt including new ships Viking Osiris and Viking Aton from ship architect, Richard Riveire. Viewers will also learn more about the itinerary, Pharaohs & Pyramids.

Thursday, March 4 – Guest Speaker Thursdays – Anne Diamond will be joined by artist, Katrina Vrebalovich, who is deeply inspired by Egypt and its people. Katrina will show some of her work during the discussion with Anne.

Friday, March 5 – At Home Fridays…in Cairo – Locals and Viking guides will show you around the city including a glimpse of local life and the pyramids.

Saturday, March 6 – Mind and body with Mona Therese

Sunday, March 7 – Sissel Sundays – This week, Sissel will perform “Ebbe Tide,” “Surrender” and “September Song.”

Viking was founded in 1997 and provides destination-focused journeys on rivers, oceans and lakes around the world. Designed for experienced travelers with interests in science, history, culture and cuisine, Chairman Torstein Hagen often says Viking offers guests “the thinking person’s cruise” in contrast to mainstream cruises.

Port Canaveral is Ready for Carnival’s New LNG Cruise Ship

Port Canaveral is now fully ready for the arrival of Carnival Cruise Line’s new LNG-powered Mardi Gras cruise ship. The Florida cruise port marked a historic milestone with a new cutting-edge tug and bunker barge able to fuel LNG cruise ships.

North America’s First LNG Cruise Port

Innovation in the cruise industry continues to move forward during the suspension of operations as Port Canaveral is now ready with LNG. The new Q-LNG 4000 arrived at the port which is an articulated tug and barge (ATB) able to offer safe and reliable delivery of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG).

It has been nicknamed Q4K and the project has been in the making for four years. Finally, it has become a reality at the port can now offer a ship-to-ship transfer of the cleaner-burning LNG.

Capt. John Murray, Port CEO, stated: 

“This project has been four years from concept to reality and we are excited to welcome the Q-LNG 4000 to fuel the next generation of cruise ships.”

“We have been working closely with our cruise partners, all the federal and state regulatory agencies, and industry leaders to promote this industry initiative.”

You can take a look at the new barge below at the new Cruise terminal 3 in Port Canaveral:

The barge, constructed in cooperation with LNG fuel supplier Shell Trading Company and Q-LNG Transport, arrived at Port Canaveral recently for a sailing and berthing familiarization exercise.

Canaveral Port Authority Commission Chairman RADM Wayne Justice (USCG-Ret), stated:

“LNG is the fuel of the future, it’s clean, less expensive and made right here in the United States.”

“We are proud to be part of making this safe secure move to the future in this region.”

The barge is 324-feet-long, and its attached tug is 128-feet-long. The U.S.-owned and operated vessel was constructed at VT Halter Marine Inc. shipyards in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and is crewed by U.S. mariners. It is the first Jones Act compliant ATB built in the U.S.

LNG will be loaded from a fuel distribution facility on Elba Island in Georgia. After each bunkering operation, the barge will have to return to make the trip back to the facility. Q4K has the capacity to fuel up to two cruise ships with a 7-day itinerary each.

Ready for New Carnival Cruise Ship

When the Q4K arrived at Port Canaveral recently and is actually conveniently docked at Port Canaveral’s new Cruise Terminal 3 which was completed in June 2020. The terminal has been constructed for Carnival Cruise Line and the new LNG-class cruise ships.

Carnival Mardi Gras Begins Sea TrialsCarnival Mardi Gras Begins Sea Trials
Photo Credit: Meyer Turku Shipyard

Mardi Gras, Carnival’s first fully powered LNG cruise ship is currently in Barcelona, Spain but she will soon be heading across the Atlantic to the port. The huge 180,000 gross ton vessel will be fuel using the new barge, kicking off a new era of eco-friendly fueling for the port and North America.

Mardi Gras‘ inaugural voyage has already been delayed five times due to the global pandemic but she is currently scheduled to begin sailing from terminal 3 from June 5. She will begin with a 7-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary with calls to San Juan, Amber Cove, and Grand Turk.

Main Photo Credit: Edwin Muller Photography / Shutterstock.com

Carnival Mardi Gras Cruise ShipCarnival Mardi Gras Cruise Ship

MSC Seaside Will Return to Service in May

MSC Cruises is bringing back another cruise ship into service when MSC Seaside begins offering cruises from Italy on May 1, 2021.

MSC Seaside will join MSC Grandiosa in offering cruises in the Mediterranean and will follow the cruise line’s industry-leading health and safety protocol which has allowed the cruise line to sail successfully since August 2020.

MSC Seaside will be performing a brand-new itinerary featuring 7-night cruises calling Genoa, Valetta in Malta and Civitavecchia, with two first time ports of call – Siracusa in Sicily and Taranto in Puglia.

MSC Seaside will implement for the protection of its guests and crew MSC Cruises’ industry-leading health and safety protocol that has been tried and tested since August 2020. Measures will include universal testing at embarkation as well as mid-cruise, weekly testing of crew, social distancing, the wearing of masks in public areas, only protected shore excursions as well as enhanced deep sanitation and ongoing cleaning procedures.

Sponsored Links

MSC Grandiosa’s current successful itinerary will be extended through to the end of May with the ship calling at the Italian ports of Genoa, Civitavecchia, Naples, Palermo as well as Valetta in Malta.

MSC Grandiosa has safely carried more than 40,000 passengers since the cruise ship resumed service.

MSC Seaside and MSC Grandiosa itineraries are currently available to residents from Schengen countries and Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania.

MSC Seaside Being Redeployed to Resume Sailings in Europe

Not all cruises are on hold as MSC Cruises has already kickstarted sailings with the MSC Grandiosa. The cruise line has announced that another one of its advanced vessels will also begin sailings in May 2021.

MSC Seaside to Resume Cruises

Even though most cruise ships remain on hold worldwide, MSC continues to move forward on new ways to keep some of its ships moving. MSC Seaside, a popular MSC vessel based out of Miami, Florida, will be deployed to Europe for the first time since entering service in 2017.

The ship will offer a new itinerary and join MSC Grandiosa in the Mediterranean from May 1, 2021. MSC Seaside will offer 7-night cruises calling Genoa, Valletta in Malta, and Civitavecchia with two first-time ports of call – Siracusa in Sicily and Taranto in Puglia. Embarkation will be available in all Italian ports.

Related: Must-Know Things About the MSC Seaside Cruise Ship

MSC Seaside Cruise ShipMSC Seaside Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: byvalet / Shutterstock.com

When the vessel begins sailing there will be new health and safety measures in place. The cruise line has already proved that ships can sail safely with no outbreak onboard. Protocols have already been well tested since first being introduced in August 2020.

Measures will include universal testing at embarkation as well as mid-cruise, weekly testing of the crew, social distancing, the wearing of masks in public areas, only protected shore excursions as well as enhanced deep sanitation and ongoing cleaning procedures.

New Itinerary from MSC Cruises

So the new itinerary for MSC Seaside will include calls to Siracusa and Taranto which are both in Italy. The first voyage will depart on May 1, 2021, out of Genoa and it will be a 7-night voyage.

Aerial View of Taranto, ItalyAerial View of Taranto, Italy
Aerial View of Taranto, Italy (Photo Courtesy: MSC Cruises)

The itinerary will include the two new ports of call of Siracusa in Sicily and Taranto in Puglia along with calls to Malta and Civitavecchia. This itinerary will be sailing five times during the month of May 2021 departing on May 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29.

MSC Grandiosa Extention

With MSC Grandiosa’s successful return to service, the cruise line has decided to extend its season through to the end of May. The ship will call to at the Italian ports of Genoa, Civitavecchia, Naples, Palermo as well as Valetta in Malta.

The ship has been among the very few cruise ships that have actually been sailing with guests since August 2020. Since then, more than 40,000 cruise passengers have enjoyed a cruise vacation safely on the ship.

Worth Reading: MSC Grandiosa Cruise Ship: Overview & Must-Know Things

It is important to know that the cruises for MSC Grandiosa and MSC Seaside are not available to anyone. Itineraries are currently available to residents from Schengen countries and Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania.

Main Photo Credit: Ivan Sarfatti / MSC Cruises

MSC Seaside AftMSC Seaside Aft