A few ships are returning to cruise or running test cruises this week, but the real headliners are a smattering of policy changes that could impact your booked sailing this year.
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
Mariner of the Seas is the latest ship to resume sailings from Port Canaveral when it departs today (August 23) on a four-night cruise to Nassau and CocoCay (Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas).
In case you missed it, Carnival Panorama set sail on its first cruise with paying passengers this weekend on August 21. The Mexico sailing also marked the restart of cruises from Long Beach, California.
Disney Fantasy will run two test cruises this week, one on August 26 and the other on August 29. The three-night cruises from Port Canaveral pave the way for Fantasy’s first sailing with passengers on September 11. The ship will sail shorter itineraries than originally planned.
Oasis of the Seas returns to Cape Liberty this week after its six-night test cruise, which set sail on August 22. Its first official sailing is scheduled for September 5.
Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ship, Wonder of the Seas, left its shipyard on Friday, August 20, for a different kind of test cruise – sea trials. During the trials, the captain and crew will test out the ship’s various systems related to navigation, propulsion, and safety. The Oasis-class ship is set to debut in 2022 and will be the biggest cruise ship to sail in Asia.
Lots of policy changes have been announced since our last news roundup, as ports change their policies amid Delta variant concerns.
On Friday, the CDC, which has been extremely cautious about cruising during a pandemic, issued a warning to high-risk travelers, recommending that they do not cruise even if they’re fully vaccinated.
The Bahamas changed its cruise passenger requirements to demand that all passengers ages 12 and older be fully vaccinated in order for cruise ships to dock. The new rules, which are in effect from September 3 through November 1, apply to private islands, as well as major ports like Nassau and Freeport.
To comply with this change in policy, Royal Caribbean and Carnival are now requiring that all guests ages 12 and older be vaccinated in order to board their cruise ships. Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line is also making vaccines mandatory for guests on its September and October cruises to Grand Bahama Island.
Norwegian Cruise Line, flush from a preliminary win against Florida in its fight for vaccine requirements, announced that all of its passengers must be fully vaccinated to cruise on a Norwegian ship through the end of 2021. Unvaccinated travelers, including children, will not be allowed onboard.
With Cape Liberty in New Jersey roaring back to cruise life, the Manhattan terminals do not want to get left behind. New York City’s Economic Development Corporation is working with Norwegian Cruise Line and Crystal Cruises to restart cruise sailings from Pier 88 and 90 as early as late September. There’s still no word on when the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal will reopen.
Though Norwegian previously announced it plans to sail Norwegian Breakaway out of New York in late October, the line is now exploring the possibility of Bermuda cruises by September 26. Luxury line Crystal currently lists Bermuda cruises from New York beginning September 24, on its website. The return-to-cruise timeline is also dependent on the individual policies of the ports cruise ships will visit on their New York-based itineraries.
When New York sailings start, passengers and crew will need to be vaccinated.