Norwegian Cruise Line Announces Return to Cruising With First Voyages in Europe and The Caribbean
Norwegian Cruise Line today announced its highly anticipated return to service, with new itineraries sailing Europe and The Caribbean beginning July 25, 2021.
The Cruise Line will restart operations at a reduced capacity with Norwegian Jade, Joy and Gem as the first of its 17-ship fleet to welcome guests back on board.
Travelers long-awaiting a return to cruise will have the opportunity to spend the summer exploring ancient ruins and sunny beaches with all new seven-day cruises to the Greek Isles on Norwegian Jade from Athens (Piraeus) beginning July 25, 2021. They can also island hop with week-long Caribbean itineraries available from Montego Bay, Jamaica as of Aug. 7, 2021 on Norwegian Joy or from Punta Cana (La Romana), Dominican Republic on Norwegian Gem beginning Aug. 15, 2021.
“Over a year after we initially suspended sailings, the time has finally come when we can provide our loyal guests with the news of our great cruise comeback,” said Norwegian Cruise Line’s President and Chief Executive Officer Harry Sommer. “We have been working diligently towards our resumption of operations, focusing on the guest experience with health and safety at the forefront. The growing availability of the COVID-19 vaccine has been a game changer. The vaccine, combined with our science-backed health and safety protocols, will help us provide our guests with what we believe will be the healthiest and safest vacation at sea.”
Sommer continued, “All guests sailing aboard cruises with embarkation dates through Oct. 31, 2021 will be required to be fully vaccinated and tested prior to boarding our ships. Given the ever-evolving nature of the pandemic, the accelerating rollout of the vaccine, and the speed of scientific learnings, it is premature to make decisions about our health and safety protocols for cruises with embarkation dates beginning Nov. 1, 2021. We will continue to evaluate our health and safety protocols and rely on science and our expert council as we make decisions and evolve our policies and procedures.”
While the Cruise Line already had robust health and safety protocols in place, it has spent the past year further developing and refining those protocols, using the latest scientific findings and expert advice.
Yesterday, its parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings launched its SailSAFE Health and Safety program, which is founded on three pillars: 1) Safety for guests and crew with vaccination requirements, universal COVID-19 testing and enhanced health screening protocols; 2) Safety aboard with medical-grade air filtration, increased sanitation measures and enhanced medical resources; and 3) Safety ashore through the collaboration with land-based tour operator partners to extend health and safety measures to each destination. As protocols evolve and additional information becomes available, updates will be published at www.ncl.com/sail-safe.
Today, the Company also announced its SailSAFE Global Health and Wellness Council (“the Council”) comprised of six experts at the forefront of their fields. Led by Chairman Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) and Co-Chair of the Healthy Sail Panel, which was formed to guide the cruise industry’s safe resumption of operations, the Council’s work will complement the Healthy Sail Panel initiative and will focus on the implementation, compliance with and continuous improvement of health and safety protocols across the Company’s operations. Additional information is available here.
Guests have the opportunity to follow along as the Company makes its final preparations to welcome guests on board with its new docuseries, EMBARK – The Series, premiering April 15 at 8 p.m. at www.ncl.com/embark and Facebook.
The Cruise Line has been working closely with destination partners and others to help provide not only a safe vacation but an exceptional experience for guests.
Sommer said, “Resuming operations is a comprehensive endeavor, involving many parties around the globe. We are very proud of our collaborations and look forward to deeper partnerships as we forge into the future.”
In welcoming the announcement Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said, “I am very pleased that Norwegian Cruise Line has selected Jamaica as one of the first destinations in the world that it will visit when it resumes service. We look forward to welcoming the Cruise Line back to our shores, and I am confident that this important partnership will aid in our effort to rebuild our tourism sector and boost our economy overall. Jamaica is ready for the return of cruise tourism and we have robust protocols in place to ensure a safe, seamless and secure experience.”
These new Caribbean itineraries provide guests with ten to 11 hours of port time with each sailing featuring only two days at sea and four distinct ports of call. In addition, guests embarking on voyages from Montego Bay, Jamaica on Norwegian Joy will enjoy a visit to Harvest Caye, the Company’s private resort destination in Belize.
In response to the Cruise Line’s announcement that it would sail to Punta Cana for the first time in its history, President Luis Abinader of the Dominican Republic expressed his appreciation by saying, “From the very first day, we’ve been committed to taking all of the necessary actions to support the recovery of our tourism sector. The Cruise Line’s presence this summer reaffirms our commitment to providing a safe destination for travelers. We thank NCL for putting its trust in our country.”
Guests sailing aboard Norwegian Jade’s Greek Isles itinerary this summer and beginning of fall will wake up in a new destination every day with eight to nine hours of port time to explore.
The Greek Minister of Tourism Harry Theoharis said, “We warmly welcome the announcement of Norwegian Cruise Line restarting its cruises from Greece. The diversity and rich color of all our destinations together with our long history, unique culture, and famous gastronomy will ensure a remarkable experience for all guests. In 2020, we safely opened tourism and we are working to continue to do the same this year, so travelers go home with memories that they are proud to share and that last a lifetime.”
In conjunction with its return to service announcement, the Cruise Line today canceled all July and August itineraries aboard Norwegian Breakaway, Dawn, Escape, Getaway, Sky, Spirit, Star and Sun. In addition, voyages aboard Norwegian Epic through Sept. 1, 2021; and Norwegian Pearl through Nov. 7, 2021 have also been canceled. Guests and Travel Partners with impacted reservations will be contacted directly.
The Cruise Line also extended its temporary Peace of Mind cancelation policy to guests sailing on cruises booked by April 30, 2021 with embarkation dates through Oct. 31, 2021. These guests have the flexibility to cancel their cruise 15 days prior to departure. Those who take advantage of the Peace of Mind policy will receive a full refund in the form of a future cruise credit which may be applied to any sailing through Dec. 31, 2022. In addition, final payment for all voyages with embarkations through Oct. 31, 2021, will require payment 60 days prior to embarkation versus the standard 120 days.