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Royal Caribbean Will Now Test All Passengers Before First Cruise

Royal Caribbean made a change to their health protocols for their first cruise ship that will sail to the Caribbean and Bahamas in 15 months.

Photo Credit: Matt Wade via Wiki CC 3.0

Royal Caribbean sent out an email today to guests who are boarding Adventure of the Seas in Nassau, Bahamas on Saturday.

All passengers will now receive a complimentary antigen test that will be administered at the British Colonial Hilton Nassau before boarding.  The Hilton is acting as the embarkation and check-in area since the port in Nassau does not have a cruise terminal to accommodate it.

Royal Caribbean said that they reason for the change and why vaccinated passengers will now have to be tested before boarding is to give everyone additional peace of mind as the cruise line resumes sailings.

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Vaccinated guests will not require any additional pre-cruise testing. However, guests from the U.S. will have to be tested before they fly home after the cruise. Royal Caribbean said that they will offer complimentary testing on day 5 or 6 of the cruise.

Unvaccinated guests 12 years and older will have to be tested three times. They will have to submit a negative SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test to receive their Bahamas Health Visa. On embarkation day, they will receive a second test and the final complimentary test on day 5 or 6 of the cruise.

Guests 2-11 will need to take two tests. Guests under the age of two will not be tested.

Carnival Cruise Line Ramping Up Ship Restarts in August

Carnival Cruise Line is bringing back more ships into service in August and their newest and largest cruise ship will enter service on July 31.

Carnival Cruise Line’s latest plans for restarting cruises are as follows:

Carnival’s newest cruise ship, Mardi Gras, will start operating her seven-day cruises from Port Canaveral on Saturday, July 31, with pre-inaugural sailings to the eastern and western Caribbean.

Carnival Magic will return from her dry dock – and with her new hull design – and homeport from Port Canaveral where she will pick up four- and five-day cruises to The Bahamas and Caribbean that were previously scheduled for Carnival Elation, effective August 7 through Oct. 7. Guests already booked on Carnival Elation will be re-accommodated on Carnival Magic, and because she is a larger ship, additional stateroom inventory is being made available on Carnival.com and other sales channels. Carnival Magic will also operate three new six-day cruises and one new eight-day cruise from Port Canaveral between October 11-31.

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Carnival Sunrise will enter service from Miami, effective August 14, sailing four- and five-day cruises to The Bahamas and Caribbean.

Carnival Panorama will enter service from Long Beach on August 21, sailing her seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises.

Carnival Vista and Breeze (from Galveston), Carnival Horizon (from Miami) and Carnival Miracle (from Seattle to Alaska) will continue with their cruises through August that are part of the cruise line’s restart plans in July.

Given the above plans, Carnival Cruise Line has extended its pause for other ships through August 31, 2021, as follows: Carnival Pride (Baltimore), Carnival Sunshine (Charleston), Carnival Dream (Galveston), Carnival Ecstasy (Jacksonville), Carnival Liberty (Port Canaveral), Carnival Conquest (Miami), Carnival Sensation (Mobile) and Carnival Glory (New Orleans).

Guests and travel agents are being advised of the August schedule plans and Carnival will be providing more details directly to them next week on guidelines and protocols. Carnival Cruise Line plans to operate these August sailings with vaccinated guests.

“We are very excited to finally welcome guests on Mardi Gras,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “With our desire to preserve summer vacations for our Mardi Gras guests, we are going to find a later date to formally christen her so that we can operate these pre-inaugural sailings just as soon as we can.”

Duffy also noted that Carnival intends to expand its initial restart from Florida, Texas and Washington to California, with the return of Carnival Panorama from Long Beach in late August. “We are excited to resume our West Coast operations and intend to sail Carnival Panorama with vaccinated guests starting August 21. We are working with state and local officials to finalize the necessary plans,” Duffy said.

Carnival Cruise Line will continue to ramp up more cruise ships and homeports in September and beyond, bringing hundreds of crew on board each week to be vaccinated, complete CDC-mandated quarantine and then begin work to prepare for guests and the return to guest operations.

“Our focus remains on the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we serve and visit,” said Duffy. “We are taking a deliberate approach so we can execute with excellence and deliver a fun experience to our guests, who have been tremendously patient and supportive throughout this pause.”

Carnival Cruise Line Releases August Restart Plan Including Mardi Gras

Carnival Cruise Line has announced which cruise ships will resume operations in August, and then the plan also includes the new Mardi Gras, which recently arrived in the U.S. for the first time. It comes as the cruise line ramps up its restart plans after already detailing the ships that will resume in July.

Carnival Cruise Ships to Sail in August

The cruise line continues to move forward, with more vessels making a return to service this summer. Carnival has already detailed its plans on July operations, and now further details have been released for August.

Cruisers finally know about Mardi Gras, as the LNG-powered vessel will begin sailing out of Port Canaveral on July 31, 2021. She will offer seven-day voyages with passengers for the first time to the eastern and western Caribbean.

Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line said, “We are very excited to finally welcome guests on Mardi Gras. With our desire to preserve summer vacations for our Mardi Gras guests, we are going to find a later date to formally christen her so that we can operate these pre-inaugural sailings just as soon as we can.”

Right now, the ship is preparing for her big return, with more crew members arriving to set up their departments. Supplies are arriving, and the entertainment staff is rehearings ready to bring back the fun. Mardi Gras has already been delayed multiple times since her original inaugural date of August 31, 2020.

Carnival Cruise ShipsCarnival Cruise Ships
Photo Credit: Marc Mayntz

Here is the full list of which Carnival cruise ships will return in August and the cruises will be for vaccinated guests:

  • Mardi Gras will start operating her seven-day cruises from Port Canaveral on Saturday, July 31, with pre-inaugural sailings to the eastern and western Caribbean.
  • Carnival Magic will return from her dry dock – and with her new hull design – and homeport from Port Canaveral where she will pick up four- and five-day cruises to The Bahamas and Caribbean that were previously scheduled for Carnival Elation, effective Aug. 7 through Oct. 7. Guests already booked on Carnival Elation will be re-accommodated on Carnival Magic, and because she is a larger ship, additional stateroom inventory is being made available. Carnival Magic will also operate three new six-day cruises and one new eight-day cruise from Port Canaveral between Oct. 11-31.
  • Carnival Sunrise will enter service from Miami, effective Aug. 14, sailing four- and five-day cruises to The Bahamas and Caribbean.
  • Carnival Panorama will enter service from Long Beach on Aug. 21, sailing her seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises.
  • Carnival Vista and Breeze (from Galveston), Carnival Horizon (from Miami) and Carnival Miracle (from Seattle to Alaska) will continue with their cruises through August that are part of the line’s restart plans in July.

Also Read: Carnival Cruise Line Releases Specific Health Protocols for Texas Sailings

Extends Suspension for Select Ships

Even though more vessels will return, it confirms which ships will have to remain on hold even further. As a result, Carnival Cruise Line has extended its suspension through August 31, 2021, for the following ships:

  • Carnival Pride (Baltimore)
  • Carnival Sunshine (Charleston)
  • Carnival Dream (Galveston)
  • Carnival Ecstasy (Jacksonville)
  • Carnival Liberty (Port Canaveral)
  • Carnival Conquest (Miami)
  • Carnival Sensation (Mobile)
  • Carnival Glory (New Orleans)

The cruise line plans to bring more ships back to service in September, continuing through the remainder of the year. The cruise line is busy making sure crew members are fully vaccinated on any ship that resumes operations to ensure the cruise experience can be as fully protected as possible.

Duffy also said, “Our focus remains on the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we serve and visit. We are taking a deliberate approach so we can execute with excellence and deliver a fun experience to our guests, who have been tremendously patient and supportive throughout this pause.”

In a zoom call with travel agents on Wednesday, Duffy said that they continue to work with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on a safe return. She also spoke about the need for vaccinated sailings as voyages without, would not be able to offer a good experience for families and especially kids.

Carnival Mardi Gras Cruise ShipCarnival Mardi Gras Cruise Ship

Carnival Cruise Line Confirms First Sailing For Mardi Gras, Announces More Ships Returning In August

Carnival Cruise Line today laid out plans for its next wave of the summer restart of guest operations, including the first cruise for Mardi Gras and the return of additional ships in August.  Highlights of the plan include:

  • Mardi Gras will start operating her seven-day cruises from Port Canaveral on Saturday, July 31, with pre-inaugural sailings to the eastern and western Caribbean.
  • Carnival Magic will return from her dry dock – and with her new hull design – and homeport from Port Canaveral where she will pick up four- and five-day cruises to The Bahamas and Caribbean that were previously scheduled for Carnival Elation, effective Aug. 7 through Oct. 7. Guests already booked on Carnival Elation will be re-accommodated on Carnival Magic, and because she is a larger ship, additional stateroom inventory is being made available on Carnival.com and other sales channels.  Carnival Magic will also operate three new six-day cruises and one new eight-day cruise from Port Canaveral between Oct. 11-31.
  • Carnival Sunrise will enter service from Miami, effective Aug. 14, sailing four- and five-day cruises to The Bahamas and Caribbean.
  • Carnival Panorama will enter service from Long Beach on Aug. 21, sailing her seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises.
  • Carnival Vista and Breeze (from Galveston), Carnival Horizon (from Miami) and Carnival Miracle (from Seattle to Alaska) will continue with their cruises through August that are part of the line’s restart plans in July.
  • Given the above plans, Carnival has extended its pause for other ships through Aug. 31, 2021, as follows: Carnival Pride (Baltimore), Carnival Sunshine (Charleston), Carnival Dream (Galveston), Carnival Ecstasy (Jacksonville), Carnival Liberty (Port Canaveral), Carnival Conquest (Miami), Carnival Sensation (Mobile) and Carnival Glory (New Orleans).
  • Guests and travel agents are being advised of the August schedule plans and Carnival will be providing more details directly to them next week on guidelines and protocols. Carnival plans to operate these August sailings with vaccinated guests.

“We are very excited to finally welcome guests on Mardi Gras,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.  “With our desire to preserve summer vacations for our Mardi Gras guests, we are going to find a later date to formally christen her so that we can operate these pre-inaugural sailings just as soon as we can.”

Duffy also noted that Carnival intends to expand its initial restart from Florida,  Texas and Washington to California, with the return of Carnival Panorama from Long Beach in late August.  “We are excited to resume our West Coast operations and intend to sail Carnival Panorama with vaccinated guests starting August 21.  We are working with state and local officials to finalize the necessary plans,” Duffy said.

Carnival will continue to ramp up more ships and homeports in September and beyond, bringing hundreds of crew on board each week to be vaccinated, complete CDC-mandated quarantine and then begin work to prepare for guests and the return to guest operations.

“Our focus remains on the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we serve and visit,” said Duffy.  “We are taking a deliberate approach so we can execute with excellence and deliver a fun experience to our guests, who have been tremendously patient and supportive throughout this pause.”

 

Holland America Line Updates Ship Schedule For Summer Cruises in Europe

Holland America Line has updated their summer cruise schedule to Europe canceling additional sailings and moving back the launch of their new ship Rotterdam.

Holland America Line has canceled the remainder of the summer 2021 European sailings aboard two cruise ships, Nieuw Statendam and Volendam. This affects cruises that were scheduled to depart from September through November, along with the Collectors’ Voyages (combined cruises) associated with those departures.

In addition, after an expected on-schedule delivery from the Fincantieri shipyard July 30, Rotterdam will remain in non-guest operations until its September 26 cruise from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Plans for Rotterdam’s naming ceremony are being finalized.

Guests currently booked on canceled Nieuw Statendam and Volendam departures automatically will be moved to a 2021 cruise on Eurodam in the Mediterranean, beginning with the August 15 cruise through the October 30 transatlantic crossing, and receive a $100 Onboard Spending Credit per person.

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Nieuw Statendam and Volendam guests also can choose to move to an equivalent cruise in 2022 at the 2021 fare or receive a Future Cruise Credit of 110% of any cash paid that will be placed in the guest’s loyalty account.

Guests currently booked on a canceled Rotterdam voyage may select an equivalent sailing in 2022 at the 2021 fare paid, or they can choose to receive a Future Cruise Credit of 110% of any cash paid.

Any guest on one of the canceled cruises also can request a full refund of all monies paid to Holland America Line.

Holland America Line Cancels Cruises, New Ship to Remain on Hold

Holland America Line has released an update that impacts cruise ships in Europe including the new Rotterdam cruise ship once it is delivered at the end of July 2021. There will be cancellations for two cruise ships and this all comes while the Carnival-owned cruise line continues to work with governments on a safe return.

Holland America Line Update

The cruise line has provided an update on cruise operations in Europe, and it has been decided to cancel the remainder of the summer 2021 season for Nieuw Statendam and Volendam. This impacts the European sailings with departures from September through November 2021 and the Collectors’ Voyages (combined cruises) associated with those departures.

This comes as Holland America continues worth with the relevant governments on a safe return to operations. Plans also continue with all the different ports as the cruise line aims for a phased-in return to service.

The cruise line is automatically moving guests on the impacted sailings to the Eurodam cruise ship. She will sail Meditteranean voyages starting from August 15 through October, including the transatlantic crossing. Guests will also receive a $100 onboard credit.

There is a further option for guests to move their booking, keeping the same fare to an equivalent sailing in 2022. They can also choose to receive a 110% future cruise credit or even request a full refund if they no longer want to cruise in the future.

Docked Holland America ShipsDocked Holland America Ships
Photo Credit: JL IMAGES / Shutterstock.com

Rotterdam to Remain on Hold

Holland America’s new Rotterdam cruise ship, which is currently under construction at the Fincantieri Marghera shipyard in Italy, is still scheduled for delivery on July 30, 2021. However, the new vessel will remain on hold with no passenger operations until the inaugural voyage on September 26, 2021, from Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Also Read: Holland America’s New Rotterdam Cruise Ship Completes Sea Trials

Rotterdam’s naming ceremony date is also to be decided at a later time as the cruise line is finalizing its plans. Those guests impacted by Rotterdam cancellations can choose an equivalent voyage in 2022 keeping their cruise fare. Another option is to receive a 110% future cruise credit.

Despite the situation in Europe not improving, Holland America Line has been allowed to save the remaining Alaska season thanks to the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act that President Biden signed in May. Nieuw Amsterdam will begin cruises to Alaska out of Seattle, Washington, on July 24, 2021.

Rotterdam Sea TrialsRotterdam Sea Trials

Australia Extends Cruise Ban Even Further

Worldwide the cruise industry is making a restart with the strictest of health regulations in place, safety measures that ensure the health and safety of all onboard. Nonetheless, the Australian Government has extended a cruise ban in effect for over a year now.

The move from the Government was met with surprise from the cruise lines and the cruise industry representative group CLIA. After many months of negotiations and promising noises from the Government, the cruise industry is still at a standstill.

“Situation continues to pose an unacceptable risk.”

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt has extended the human biosecurity emergency period in place since March of last year until September of 2021. The ban was previously set to expire this month. According to the health minister, the current pandemic continues to pose an unacceptable risk to the Australian public:

“The AHPPC has advised that the international COVID-19 situation continues to pose an unacceptable risk to public health. The extension of the emergency period is an appropriate response to that risk.”

The extension of the ban means Australians are restricted in pursuing foreign travel, need mandatory testing and mask-wearing on all flights, restrictions on foreign travel to Australia, and restrictions on the entry and operation of cruise vessels within Australian territory. The measures effectively close the borders to ship crews.

News Received with Criticism

The cruise industry has been in talks with the Australian Government for many months now on how the cruise lines can resume Down Under. The cruise industry expected a pathway forward for sailings to resume. The cruise industry recently received indications from Tourism Minister Dan Tehan that the measures would be easing slightly.

The news about a further extension was met critically and with great disappointment by Joel Kats, the CLIA representative and managing director for Australasia. The parties have been discussing a restart for cruise lines like P&O Australia, Ponant, MSC, Carnival, and APT for over a year now.

Joel Katz, managing director CLIA:

“After months of discussions with the Government, the suspension has been extended again without any clear route from the Government towards a careful and responsible resumption of cruising. The cruise industry has done an enormous amount of work to implement extensive new health protocols globally, but Australia is now the only major cruise destination in the world where there is no progress towards their adoption.”

Few Operators Are Sailing, Majority Will Not

A few small cruise ships have received permission to resume sailings. The 120-guest Caledonian Sky will sail the Kimberley starting next week after the vessel was forced to hire an all Australian hospitality workforce in a market where such staff was in desperately short supply. Another, Coral Expeditions, is currently sailing with three of its small vessels in the Kimberley.

Also Read: When Will Cruises Resume in 2021?

The disappointment for the cruise lines, and expedition cruises in the Kimberley Region remains though. Australia is one of the last countries to insist on banning cruises from leaving from and inside the country. Something Mr. Katz echoed:

“The cruise industry is not asking for special treatment or to simply reopen the doors to cruising. We’ve presented some of the most stringent COVID-19 measures to be found anywhere in tourism, developed with the support of medical experts and we governments to take the next steps forward,”

As it stands, the cruise industry is set to lose over $6 billion since the ban started in March last year. The ban also puts thousands of jobs and businesses in jeopardy, especially those focusing on the cruise industry. For now, it’s another three months of no cruising from Australia.

Cruise Ship in Sydney, AustraliaCruise Ship in Sydney, Australia

Carnival Cruise Line President Discusses Return to Service

Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy did a live zoom call for travel agents on Wednesday afternoon with Adolfo Perez, the cruise line’s SVP of global sales and trade marketing.

Duffy discussed the situation on vaccine requirements and the reasoning behind the decisions, Mardi Gras’ arrival and the latest on resuming cruise operations. She also answered some questions from travel agents.

Mardi Gras

The zoom call which was hosted by Perez and featured the Carnival Cruise Line president was an interesting 30 minutes and the new Mardi Gras cruise ship which recently arrived at Port Canaveral for the very first time was one of the main topics.

It was no doubt an emotional and exciting moment when the new Carnival cruise entered the port and Duffy said that around 1,500 people were at the port to welcome her. She even got a chance to go onboard, something which many people will be jealous about as travel professionals were not allowed to go onboard due to the current COVID situation.

Duffy said, “it was a very exciting day, I think, first of all, to see Mardi Gras come in and she’s just a beautiful ship and there was a lot of emotion. We were so excited to see. We had about 1,500 people that came on their own to be there for her arrival and obviously the new terminal at Canaveral that was purpose-built for Mardi Gras is really beautiful as well.”

The ship completed her first refueling at the port as she will make her way out at sea for a short time before returning back. While in the U.S. and waiting to sail Duffy said that a lot still needs to be done to get the ship prepared for guests.

Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

Containers are being delivered to the ship with things such as art and furniture. She said that the entertainment team also has a lot of rehearsals to do to get familiar with the new designs of the vessel.

As Mardi Gras has been on hold since being delivered at the end of 2020, the entertainment team has not had a chance to familiarize themselves with the ship ready for guests to enjoy the shows.

Duffy said, “So there’s still a lot of work. The team has to do to make her guests ready. So we’ve got containers and Canaveral. Then we’ll still load furniture and art and other things onto the ship. We’ve got our entertainment team that unfortunately has not been able to rehearse on board. And the ship design is completely different with our grand beautiful atrium with four Florida ceiling windows and aerialists.”

Duffy said towards the end of the talk, getting the ship sailing again is a priority, and they would not have brought her over from Spain if there was no chance of doing that. Carnival Cruise Line will soon be releasing further details on Mardi Gras’ inaugural voyage, and there was a hint that could be released on Friday.

There was a question about Mardi Gras’ christening from Perez and at the moment no naming ceremony date has been announced.

But Duffy did say, “like everything else we don’t know, but the first, first, first priority is to get Mardi Gras sailing again with guests. And so we’re going to actually, I will share this. When we talk about Mardi Gras, uh, we will be talking about a lot of pre-inaugural value, um, that we are going to provide to our guests because we know people have waited a long time.”

Returning to Service and Vaccines

During the discussion, the Carnival Cruise Line president touched about ships returning to service and they’ll be revealing what ships will begin sailing in August on Friday, something that has already been confirmed by Carnival Cruise Line Ambassador John Heald.

Related: Carnival Cruise Line Releases Specific Health Protocols for Texas Sailings

However, Duffy said the health protocols for August won’t be locked in right now and they will wait to see how the situation is in around two weeks from now. The health protocols for Carnival Horizon departures from PortMiami are also set to come out before the end of the week.

Carnival Cruise Line Ships Arrive in GalvestonCarnival Cruise Line Ships Arrive in Galveston
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

There has been a lot of talk in the cruising world of vaccines and what Carnival Cruise Line will require once operations begin with Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze out of the Port of Galveston in Texas. It has no doubt be challenging on working with the CDC to resume cruises safely.

Duffy said, “So it took us a long time to get to the place whereas the vaccines were distributed and, you know, we were still operating under this old conditional sale order from CDC, to get back to the table with CDC and with the support of the other agencies from the administration to talk about what was reasonable and what was the path for restart knowing that we really wanted to be back in the water for July”

The CDC offers two routes for cruise lines to resume operations. There is one where at least 95% of guests and crew are fully vaccinated, which would then have more relaxed rules onboard. The other route is to offer a more restricted cruise experience for non-vaccinated passengers.

CDC EntranceCDC Entrance
Photo Credit: Matt Bannister / Shutterstock.com

Duffy went into the reasoning why the cruises out of Galveston with Carnival Vista and Breeze are for fully vaccinated guests. She said, “I think I was very clear and public, uh, on multiple occasions expressing my concern for the option for that was unvaccinated really did not allow any exemption or opportunity for people to sail with children under 12, who aren’t eligible for a vaccine.”

She continued to say “So for the future, it looks like this will all be workable, but we did have to make a decision. For our restart, because our first sailing that we’ve announced is going to be with Carnival Vista out of Galveston on July 3rd.”

“And we did decide that we’re going to go with the vaccinated cruises because part of the criteria under unvaccinated would be that all the vaccinated guests would have to wear masks indoors and we felt that that would really be uncomfortable and difficult for people who did have a vaccine.”

“There’s also a lot of social distancing and other requirements for sailing with unvaccinated guests. And we just feel given where we are, the number of children that we have at our young, under 12, we just felt like we. Unfortunately need to start off this way.”

Carnival Crew VaccinationCarnival Crew Vaccination
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

Duffy made it clear that the situation remains very difficult and that the cruise line will also have to work with authorities in the different destinations that ships sail to.

Port agreements have to be made, and then there is the entire process of ensuring guests can remain protected on shore excursions. The cruise line is dealing with each ship differently when currently working through the issues for each port of call.

When it comes to the vaccine passport ban in Florida signed by Governor Desantis, Duffy said, “I’ll say this, everybody has the same objective. The CDC wants to see us back starting cruising again. And certainly, governor DeSantis, who was really such a big supporter for getting the, getting us back at the table and working through this, we know that he wants cruise cruises to begin from Florida in the month of July.

So I believe it’s Wednesday. So, we’ll be optimistic that this is going to get worked out and we’ll be able to proceed with the plans that, that we’ve announced.”

Also Read: Florida’s Vaccine Passport Ban Complicates Cruise Restart Plans

The vaccine passport ban is et to begin on July 1, so many cruisers are worries what will happen. The good news is that the Florida governor wants cruises to resume operations, he even filed a lawsuit against the CDC to make that happen, How that plays out remains to be seen and cruise line are working with Florida to overcome the vaccine passport ban.

There is so much going on when it comes to resuming cruise operations but things are moving forward for the U.S. cruise industry including Carnival Cruise Line.

You can watch the full discussion between Christine Duffy and Adolfo Perez below:

Carnival Cruise Line President DiscussionCarnival Cruise Line President Discussion