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This Hot Cruise Summer has hit its midpoint, and more and more cruise ships are returning to service. Read on for this week’s cruise ship restart and test cruise news. Is your favorite ship finally sailing the ocean blue?

Get all the details about ship launches and simulated voyages with Cruise.blog’s master list of test cruises and 2021 debut sailings.

Return to Cruise

MSC Meraviglia denied entry to port over Coronavirus fears | Cruise.Blog

MSC Cruises: MSC Meraviglia will depart from Miami today on its first official cruise after a successful test cruise.

The ship will sail a series of three- and four-night Bahamas cruises this summer, followed by weeklong Bahamas and Caribbean sailings.

Carnival announces more cruise ships for vaccinated guests that will  restart this summer | Cruise.Blog

Carnival Cruise Line: Carnival’s newest cruise ship, Mardi Gras, set sail on its delayed maiden voyage on Saturday, July 31, almost a year after its originally planned debut date.

The ship is carrying a whopping 4,000 passengers, about two-thirds of its capacity, while other cruise ships are sailing only half full.

The ship is Carnival’s largest ever and runs on liquefied natural gas (LNG), with an industry-first rollercoaster ride and themed neighborhoods featuring restaurants by Emeril Lagasse, Guy Fieri, and Shaquille O’Neal. Mardi Gras will sail six- to eight-night Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral. 

Not to be lost in all the Mardi Gras celebrations, Carnival Magic will return to cruise a week after its new fleetmate, setting sail from Port Canaveral on August 7. The ship will offer four- and five-night cruises to the Bahamas and the Eastern Caribbean this summer, ramping up to longer cruises in the fall. 

Do I Need Travel Insurance for a Cruise? | Cruise.Blog

Royal Caribbean: After a successful simulation, the brand-new Odyssey of the Seas set off on its first ever cruise with paying passengers on Saturday, July 31.

The ship is homeported in Ft. Lauderdale and will sail six- and eight-night Southern and Western Caribbean cruises.

Odyssey had quite the run of bad luck; it was originally set to debut in 2020, then planned to debut in Rome, then Israel, in spring 2021, but both of those inaugural sailings got canceled. Its U.S. launch got pushed back nearly a month, but finally the first Quantum Ultra ship to sail from a U.S. homeport is out at sea.

However, Royal Caribbean is planning its official inaugural cruise for November 2021.

Norwegian announces restart plans from the US for 8 cruise ships |  Cruise.Blog

Norwegian Cruise Line: NCL will restart its U.S.-based sailings on Saturday, August 7, when Norwegian Encore cruises out of Seattle to join Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Holland America, Carnival, and Princess ships in Alaska.

The weeklong cruises run through mid-October and call in the Alaskan cruise ports of Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Icy Strait Point, with scenic cruising in Glacier Bay or Holkham Bay.

Test Cruises

World's largest cruise ships get approval from CDC for test cruises |  Cruise.Blog

Royal Caribbean has fully embraced the test cruise concept because it wants its loyal families, with kids too young to be vaccinated, to be able to keep sailing. On Sunday, August 1, two ships set out on simulated voyages: Independence of the Seas from Galveston and Symphony of the Seas from Miami. 

Sister ship Ovation of the Seas will return from its July 30 test cruise on Wednesday, August 4. That ship is planning to restart Alaska cruises from Seattle next week on August 13.

Itinerary Announcements

Celebrity Infinity

Celebrity Cruises announced a new round of canceled sailings as it refines its return-to-cruise plans. Canceled sailings include the following:

  • Celebrity Eclipse: Cruises departing January 3 through April 17, 2022
  • Celebrity Infinity: Cruises departing December 13, 2021 through March 23, 2022
  • Celebrity Solstice: Cruises departing September 26 through December 19, 2021

In addition, on select Celebrity Apex sailings, the port of Limassol, Cyprus, will be replaced by Dubrovnik, Croatia, and the order of ports rearranged.

Policy Updates

Oasis of the Seas side

In case you missed it: Royal Caribbean now requires a negative Covid-19 test result for all passengers, vaccinated or not, boarding a five-night or longer cruise. The policy took effect on  July 31.

Read more

While other cruise lines are still sailing at a fraction of their normal capacity, Carnival's newest ship is nearly full.

Carnival Mardi Gras departed from Port Canaveral on Saturday on its maiden voyage, coinciding with a major celebration of the cruise line's newest ship.

While Mardi Gras is not the first cruise ship to restart sailings from Florida this summer, she is sailing with a lot more passengers onboard than other ships early sailings.

Guests boarding Mardi Gras

According to ClickOrlando, there are 4,000 passengers onboard this first revenue sailing, and has a passenger capacity of 5,282, based on double-occupancy of its cabins, and a full capacity of 6,465 passengers, plus a crew of 1,745.

Carnival said 95% of the guests are vaccinated and the other 5%, such as families with small children, will see additional restrictions.

Carnival says fully vaccinated guests will not have to wear a face mask or physically distance onboard the Mardi Gras. 

Mardi Gras

 All guests, vaccinated or not, will have to wear masks while getting on and off the ship.

That puts the ship at about 2/3 capacity while Royal Caribbean and Celebrity ships are sailing at no more than 50% capacity. In fact, most Royal Caribbean ships have been sailing with around 1,000 passengers onboard at the most.

Moving towards higher passenger loads has been a possibility for many lines as the initial restart phase passes, but the cruise industry is facing new public pressure due to the rise in Covid-19 cases primarily due to the Delta variant.

Mardi Gras at sea

While a handful of Covid cases on cruise ships has been caught by cruise line protocols quickly, the national media jumped on six positive cases aboard Adventure of the Seas this week.

Royal Caribbean added a test requirement for sailings five nights or longer for all passengers, including vaccinated passengers.

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Royal Caribbean has added a new requirement for passengers to bring a negative Covid-19 test result to the cruise terminal on U.S. cruises longer at least 5-nights in length.

Regardless of vaccination status, all guests over the age of 2 sailing with Royal Caribbean for all sailings five nights or longer will need to bring provide proof of negative COVID-19 test at embarkation.

The cruise line will accept a PCR or antigen test.

What happens when someone tests positive for Covid on my cruise? |  Cruise.Blog

Royal Caribbean's new policy is effective for sailings departing from July 31 to August 31, 2021.

Tests must be administered no more than three days prior to sailing and proof of negative results must be shown at check-in. Tests will not be administered at the pier and at the passenger's own expense.

Royal Caribbean's website reflects the added requirement:

All guests age 2 and older — regardless of vaccination status — will need to take a COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) with an accredited test provider, such as a drugstore chain or diagnostic lab, no more than 3 days before arriving at the terminal for embarkation. Guests will need to show their negative test result upon arriving at the terminal. The results can be printed out, or can be presented on your phone, such as the email result from your test provider. Costs associated with this test are the guests' responsibility.

Royal Caribbean will use volunteers for test cruises | Cruise.Blog

A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean said requiring tests of all passengers will provide further safety for all on the ship, "This is an additional layer of precaution to ensure the safety of everyone onboard."

Prior to today's change, only unvaccinated passengers were required to pay for and provide a negative Covid-19 test result.

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Disney is putting the bar back in barbershop and giving grownups new onboard experiences with the 2022 debut of new ship Disney Wish. Today, the line unveiled new spa and nightlife areas where adults can relax and unwind.

New spa and salon areas

Senses Spa – Rainforest

Senses Spa on Disney Wish will take the Zen outdoors with the line’s first alfresco relaxation area, complete with hot tubs, plush loungers, and fresh-air yoga classes. In addition, the spa’s Rainforest thermal suite will tout the cruise line’s first ice lounge to complement the hotter therapies, such as sauna and steam rooms and heated loungers.

Spa favorites, such as couples’ spa villas and a fitness center with dedicated cycling and aerobics studios, will return on Wish.

Untangled Salon

Disney Wish will also offer an expanded salon, with two stand-alone spaces. The most novel is Hook’s Barbery, a European-style men’s salon where cruisers can get haircuts, shaves, and manly skin and nail treatments in a Never Land pirate-themed setting. What sets this pampering space apart is its “hidden” bar serving all the best pirate drinks, including aged rum, vintage whiskey, and pre-Prohibition bourbons. The bar will host tastings and other events and be available for coed evenings out. 

The spa’s other new space is the aptly themed Untangled Salon, with décor inspired by Rapunzel. It will focus on hair cuts and styling, as well as mani-pedis, teeth whitening, and skin treatments. 

Disney Wish nightlife

Keg & Compass

The Untangled Salon does not have a secret party space, but the 18-plus crowd can seek out the ship’s new nightlife venues for after-hours entertainment. Unlike on other Disney Cruise Line ships, these bars and social spaces will not be clustered together but spread out throughout the ship's public areas. True to Disney’s heart, the spaces will pay homage to Disney stories and characters, but in a sophisticated way that fits with their adult patrons.

Every Disney ship has a pub and Wish’s will be Keg & Compass, styled like a Norwegian sailor’s map room. An old-timey map, complete with geographically correct insertions of Disney characters like Moana, will spread over the ceiling. Unlike those 19th-century sailing ships, Keg & Compass will be airing sports and news on multiple TVs. Enjoy the game while sipping one of three custom craft brews, offered exclusively on Disney Wish.

Palo

Nightingale’s will be the place for piano music Cinderella-style and a selection of wine, including sparkling, and hand-crafted cocktails. The elegant lounge, with its signature eye-catching chandelier, will be located off the atrium in order to lure passersby with its tinkling tunes.

The party, however, will be found in The Bayou, where cruisers can catch live performances in a space inspired by the Louisiana marsh in “The Princess and the Frog.” The menu pairs specialty cocktails and coffee drinks with doughy beignets, so passengers will have plenty of reasons to linger in this new lounge.

More adult fun on Disney Wish

Disney Wish – Enchanté by Chef Arnaud Lallement

Previously announced adult spaces onboard include the Star Wars-themed Hyperspace Lounge, the Italian-style Palo Steakhouse, the upscale Enchante restaurant with a menu by Michelin-starred Chef Arnaud Lallement, and the Quiet Cove adults-only sun deck with an infinity pool, alfresco bar, and poolside cafe.

Disney Wish sets sail in June 2022, with an itinerary of short Bahamas cruises. The ship will homeport in Port Canaveral and call on Nassau and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island.

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Celebrity Cruises announced a new round of cruise cancellations on Tuesday.

Travel agents were informed of the alterations to the cruise line's  2021 and 2022 sailings on various ships.

There are three ships with new cancellations, as well as some itinerary modifications.

According to Celebrity, the changes are necessary, "to ensure we are crafting nothing but stunning, healthy, and carefree vacation options for all of our guests. This means some of our itineraries and ship assignments will need to be modified, while a few others will need to be canceled."

Cancellations

Celebrity Cruises now includes gratuity, drinks & WiFi in its cruise fare |  Cruise.Blog

Celebrity Eclipse sailings departing January 3, 2022 through April 17, 2022

Celebrity Infinity sailings departing December 13, 2021 through March 23, 2022

Celebrity Solstice sailings September 26, 2021 through December 19, 2021. 

Itinerary modifications

Celebrity Apex Debuts on Sailing in the Beautiful Greek Islands |  Cruise.Blog

Celebrity Apex 7/31/21, 8/7/21, 8/14/21, 8/21/21, 8/28/21, 9/4/21, 9/18/21

The port of Limassol, Cyprus will be replaced with a visit to Dubrovnik, Croatia along with various modifications in port order. 

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