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Cruise News

Celebrity Apex Makes Her Greek Debut

Yesterday, Saturday 19th June saw Celebrity Cruises’ latest newbuild Celebrity Apex make her Greek debut with her highly-anticipated maiden voyage from Athens.

Celebrity Apex had originally been scheduled to enter service in late March 2020 however the global COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected the cruise industry and delayed Celebrity Apex’s debut season and therefore her maiden season plans had to be rescheduled to Summer 2021 and a Greek debut.

The second in the Edge class of ships for Celebrity Cruises departed the Port of Athens last night at 8.30pm (Eastern European Summer Time) on her first seven night Aegean cruise.

It was truly an historic moment for Celebrity Cruises as the return to Greece saw Celebrity Cruises celebrate their proud Greek heritage. The Chandris family of Greece had established Celebrity Cruises in 1988 and would later become part of the Royal Caribbean group. Today, there is still a strong link between Celebrity Cruises and Greece with 70% of their marine officers across the fleet hail from Greece – with more than 40 Captains and Chief Engineers – including the Captain of Celebrity Apex Dimitrios Kafetzis.

A press release from Celebrity Cruises said:

ATHENS (June 19, 2021) – Excitement, anticipation, and awe. These three words captured the feeling of passengers and onlookers as Celebrity Apex, the world’s most anticipated new-luxury cruise ship, sailed out of the Port of Athens, today, to begin her maiden voyage and first summer season in the Aegean.

The much-anticipated sailing marks an historic moment for the company, which had originally planned to introduce its newest ship in late March, 2020. Guests and fans of the brand have waited ever-since with huge anticipation to experience the fleet’s new flagship.

That moment came as Celebrity Apex sailed gracefully out of port at 8:30p.m. Eastern European Summer Time, ushering in not only an important return to European sailing, but a new standard of luxury travel.  With the vivid and vibrant backdrop of the azure Athens sky, Celebrity Apex, the second ship in the brand’s transformational, multi-award-winning Edge Series, set sail on a seven-night cruise of the historied Aegean, delighting those who have waited with patience for more than 15 months to explore the world by sea. 

The company’s return to the Aegean is all the more poignant given Celebrity Cruises’ proud Greek heritage. Founded in 1988 by the Chandris family of Greece, the company later became a part of the Royal Caribbean Group. Celebrity Cruises is still rooted in its Greek origins today, with 70% of marine officers across the fleet, hailing from Greece with more than 40 Captains and Chief Engineers, including the Captain of Celebrity Apex, Dimitrios Kafetzis.

“After all this time, what a dream come true for everyone onboard this exquisite ship in one of the world’s most breathtaking regions. Her sail-away today is a meaningful moment for our guests, our crew and our company. I think we are all having ‘pinch me’ moments,” said Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. “Returning to sailing in the Aegean, where it all began for us, and after such a long time, is also very special for me and for the Celebrity Apex crew. Greece has always held a special place in our hearts, and, now, even more so, as we sail forward to experience all of its wonder, once again.”

Guests traveling on the Greek Islands and Cyprus itinerary will have the chance to visit the ancient city of Rhodes, with its stunning classical Acropolis and unparalleled Medieval architecture; the beauty and mythology of Mykonos; the incredible island of Santorini, a world heritage site and bucket list destination famous for the colorful blue and white palettes that pepper the architecture of this fascinating and historical coastal town. And finally, Limassol. Tucked away on the southern coast of Cyprus, it exemplifies all that is great about the unique island culture – with heavy influences from eastern neighbors, Turkey and Egypt.

“Today is a very proud day for me and one I will never forget. Not only do I return to sea, but I do so in my home country and with an incredible crew. I was born and raised right here in Piraeus, less than a mile from our Athens homeport, and grew up dreaming of sailing this coastline at the helm of a ship. I was born and raised right here in Piraeus, less than a mile from our Athens homeport, and grew up dreaming of sailing this coastline at the helm of a ship. It is truly an honor to captain the newest Celebrity flagship and to welcome our first guests back onboard,” said Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis.

Celebrity Apex sails with a vaccinated crew and at least 95% vaccinated guests. While Greece allows guests to freely explore its islands, a range of tours curated by Celebrity Cruises for all interests and price points are also available at every port of call, including Private Journeys and Small Group Discovery Tours for those guests preferring to explore the destinations with just members of their family or traveling companions.

The Apex of New Luxury at Sea

Like her industry-changing sister ship, Celebrity Edge, named one of TIME Magazine’s “World’s Greatest Places” in her 2019 debut season, Celebrity Apex features innovative outward-facing design and visionary spaces from world-renowned designers, connecting guests to the breathtaking world around them like never before. The ship’s onboard experience also stands apart from anything else at sea, and feeds today’s travel wanderlust with:

  • The exclusive The Retreat® with its stunning accommodations, a private restaurant, and an exclusive lounge and sundeck to rival any high-end resort. In addition, a dedicated team of butlers, attendants, and concierges on-hand 24/7, ensures everything is taken care of while on vacation.
  • Transformational accommodations, from modern two-story villas with plunge pools to staterooms with infinite verandas, that blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living, all carefully curated and designed by the award-winning Kelly Hoppen.
  • The Magic Carpet®, soaring cantilevered above the sea and offering guests uninterrupted vistas while sipping cocktails or having dinner.
  • An unrivaled culinary repertoire of 29 distinct restaurants, bars, and lounges including the brand-new Craft Social Bar, connecting guests to the destinations they will visit like never before. Globally-inspired menus crafted by Michelin-starred chefs bring the flavors of the world straight to the plate, providing an epicurean journey unmatched at sea.

Cruise with Confidence

Providing travel flexibility, Celebrity’s Cruise with Confidence policy allows guests who have booked by July 31, 2021, to cancel for any reason up to 48 hours before departure on sailings through May 4, 2022, and receive a 100% credit for a future cruise.

Celebrity Apex guests will also experience Celebrity’s new ‘Always IncludedSM’ approach where Wi-Fi, drinks, and gratuities are always included in the cruise fare.

Guests are encouraged to regularly check the guidance on all health and safety measures across the entire Celebrity Cruises vacation experience at CelebrityCruises.com/healthy-at-sea.

For more information on new sailings offered by Celebrity Cruises in 2021-2022, visit CelebrityCruises.com/2021-2022-cruises.

Source – Celebrity Cruises

Feature image © Celebrity Cruises

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Cruise News

Steel Cutting Ceremony Marks Beginning of Construction On Icon Of The Seas

A special steel-cutting ceremony took place on Monday 14th June at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland to mark the start of construction for Royal Caribbean International’s latest new build and first in the Icon class – Icon of the Seas.

Scheduled to make her debut in the Fall of 2023, Icon of the Seas will be the first of three ships to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and in addition will feature environmentally friendly applications such as shore power connection which will help boost energy efficiencies and reduce carbon footprint. More details of the advanced environmental technologies for Icon of the Seas will be revealed at a future date.

Teaser trailer from Royal Caribbean for Icon of the Seas – Royal Caribbean (YouTube)

A press release from Royal Caribbean International stated:

MIAMI, June 16, 2021 – An iconic day for the cruise industry’s next iconic ship took place on Monday, June 14 when Royal Caribbean International marked the start of construction on its first Icon Class ship. To celebrate the milestone, the world’s largest cruise line held a steel-cutting ceremony at Finnish shipyard Meyer Turku, where the revolutionary ship’s name was revealed as Icon of the Seas

In attendance at the ceremony was Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group; Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International; and Tim Meyer, CEO of Meyer Turku. The initial step in the ship’s years-long journey to completion also officially begins Royal Caribbean’s next chapter in building a clean-energy future as the leader in innovative ship design. Debuting in fall 2023, Icon will be the cruise line’s first of three ships to be powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas). LNG and the state-of-the-art ship’s additional environmentally friendly applications, such as shore power connection, will boost energy efficiencies and reduce carbon footprint. More details about Icon’s advanced environmental technologies will be revealed at a future date.

“We made our commitment to making clean power at sea a reality – and soon the norm – when Icon Class was first announced in 2016, and we’re excited to see construction underway on what will truly be a ship unlike any other,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Our decades of work in ocean conservation, energy efficiency and continuous improvement will be evident all throughout Icon. We look forward to revealing more of the game-changing features our guests and crew have in store as she begins to take shape.” 

Royal Caribbean is already known for its decades of work in making strides on energy efficiency and reduced emissions through such technologies as air lubrication, which sends billions of microscopic bubbles along the hull of a ship to reduce friction, and advanced waste heat recovery systems that turn waste heat into extra energy, up to 3 megawatts, to help power the ship’s operations. Use of such technologies, including LNG, will result in further reduced emissions overall, virtually zero sulfur dioxides and particulates, and a significant reduction in the production of nitrogen oxides.

Source – Royal Caribbean International

Feature image © Royal Caribbean International

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Cruise Feature

Cruise Feature: MSC Cruises Leading The Cruise Comeback

Whilst it has been a truly troublesome and challenging 16 months for the cruise and travel industry around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been encouraging to see one cruise line leading the comeback – MSC Cruises.

MSC Cruises are riding the crest of a wave – even during these challenging times as they have been able to safely operate cruises during the pandemic on board MSC Grandiosa in the Medterranean and MSC Virtuosa in UK waters and more ships are set to resume cruising for them during the upcoming summer months with as many as 10 ships operating in European waters.

MSC Virtuosa has been enjoying a maiden season sailing UK cruises for the UK cruise market this summer. Image © Daniel Gosling

Across the pond in the USA, MSC will be restarting their cruise operations in August (following a simulation cruise on MSC Meraviglia from PortMiami on 17th July) and September on board MSC Meraviglia and MSC Divina.

MSC Meraviglia set to restart cruises in the U.S. on 2nd August 2021. Image © MSC Cruises

MSC Meraviglia will commence MSC Cruises’ restart in the U.S. on 2nd August 2021 with a series of 3 and 4-night cruises from Miami to The Bahamas and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. From 18th September, MSC Meraviglia will then undertake 7-night cruises to The Bahamas, Caribbean and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve from Miami.

MSC Divina will resume cruising from Port Canaveral on 16th September 2021 where she will be offering 3, 4 and 7-night cruise options to The Bahamas, Caribbean and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

This is quite remarkable for the cruise industry and shows the increased confidence by MSC Cruises in restarting their global operations. They have successfully been carrying passengers in a safe environment, where reduced capacity on board, social distancing with face-coverings and testing before and during the cruise and bubble shore excursions ashore have led to a safe cruising environment and strict adherence to MSC Cruises health and safety protocols on board have led to very low amount of positive cases on board.

MSC World Europa will be a game-changing cruise ship for MSC Cruises when she enters service in 2023. Image © MSC Cruises

Along with the returning of their cruise operations, MSC have not stood still and are still planning for the future. Currently under construction, the 205,000GRT, 333 metres long MSC World Europa is due to enter service in MSC World Europa, their largest and most environmentally friendly cruise ship to date will enter service in December 2022 and represents the next generation of cruising.

The MSC Group last week released details of their new luxury cruise brand, Explora Journeys with four new 64,000 GRT ships to enter service between 2023 and 2026. This further represents MSC’s expansion as they look to dip their toes into the luxury cruise market.

Rendering of Explora 1 – the first of four new vessels for Explora Journeys set to enter service in 2023. Image © Explora Journeys

It truly has been such a busy period for MSC Cruises and the MSC Group. There truly has been a lot of hard work put into place by everyone behinds the scenes at the cruise line in order to safely return to cruising -which they have been successful in doing – and also for making sure they are not standing still and are looking to be more creative, more innovative and more environmentally-friendly and inspiring as they look to construct more ships in the future.

It is absolutely wonderful that all the hard work is paying off and MSC Cruises are reaping the many rewards – the future certainly augurs well for the cruise line and group and it is exciting to see the new ships coming on to the market to offer guests a wonderful cruising experience.

The cruising world is certainly MSC’s oyster.

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Cruise News

MSC Group Unveils New Luxury Brand -Explora Journeys

Offical video from Explora Journeys of the reveal of the new luxury cruise brand from The MSC Group.

Yesterday saw the MSC Group unveil their new luxury cruise brand – Explora Journeys, created for the “Next Generation of Discerning Luxury Travellers”

The first of four new 64,000 GRT vessels – Explora 1 – due to enter service in 2023 had her first steel cut yesterday at San Giorgio di Nogaro (Udine) at the Centro Servizi Navali – a company that is an expert in the logistics and production of sheet metal for the Fincantieri shipyards located in the north east of Italy.

Artist rendering of Explora 1 from an aerial perspective. Image © Explora Journeys

All four vessels will be constructed by Fincantieri with the other three vessels due to enter service in 2024, 2025 and 2026 respectively.

A press release from Explora Journeys read:

10 June 2021 – GENEVA – The MSC Group today announced the company’s entry into the luxury cruise market with the launch of a new brand created for the next generation of discerning luxury travellers: Explora Journeys. Built by Fincantieri, the first of four luxury ships will set sail in 2023, with the remaining ships ready in 2024, 2025 and 2026. Each will utilise the latest in cutting-edge maritime technology to provide journeys of discovery through destinations on and off the beaten path. Guests will be hosted on a ship like no other, with the highest level of service and amenities.

“Building a luxury brand that will redefine the cruise experience and create a category of its own has been a long-held vision of mine and my family,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Group’s cruise business and broader passenger division. “Inspired by our personal travel wishes, Explora Journeys will be an ocean escape like no other, allowing guests to relax, make memories, and cherish the time at sea with their loved ones. After all, time is the ultimate luxury.”

Designed in partnership with the world’s foremost superyacht and luxury hospitality designers, the innovative ship will seamlessly blend elegant Swiss precision with modern European craftsmanship. With 461 oceanfront suites and residences, guests will enjoy striking views at sea and in port from their floor to ceiling windows and personal private terrace. Suites will start at 35 square metres which is among the most spacious for the category in the industry.

Fourteen decks will provide ample indoor public space, maximising guest choice and seclusion. Generous outdoor decks will boast more than 2,500 square metres overlooking the sea, with 64 private cabanas across 3 outdoor pools. A fourth pool, with a retractable glass roof, will allow swimming and poolside relaxation in any weather. Combined with various indoor and outdoor whirlpool baths on the ship’s promenade deck, the ship was designed with water as a focal point to put guests in an ocean state of mind.

Rendering of The Lobby and Lobby Bar onboard Explora 1 and the other new vessels. Image © Explora 1

 “Explora Journeys was designed for guests who want to stay longer, leave later, and travel deeper,” said Michael Ungerer, CEO of Explora Journeys. “Customer centricity is at the core of everything we do. We’ve commissioned research, organised focus groups, and hosted roundtable discussions with global specialists in luxury to design the perfect ship for our guests. Explora Journeys will bring a new perspective to the travel industry, reinventing the classic cruise experience for the next generation of luxury travellers.”

With the perfect blend of intimate and vibrant spaces, a guest to crew ratio of 1.25 to 1 ensures anticipatory service at every turn. Tailored to suit personal preferences, flexible dining times at nine distinct restaurants will provide unrivalled variety at sea. Each venue will celebrate global culinary talents, with a focus on wholesome ingredients sustainably sourced from local partners. To make sure guests are spoilt for choice, several indoor and outdoor bars and lounges will also be available. Relaxation begins the moment a guest steps aboard, not having to reach for their wallet for any additional costs.

Rendering of the swimming pool with retractable roof onboard Explora 1. Image © Explora Journeys

Personalisation continues in wellness with a spacious indoor/ outdoor spa and fitness area on board. From treatment rooms to state-of-the-art fitness equipment, group workout classes to personal training appointments, tailor-made programmes make staying well while on holiday easy and enjoyable. Bespoke wellness experiences in each destination will make relaxation and rejuvenation easily accessible onboard and ashore.

Guided By The Sea

In partnership with Fincantieri, Explora Journeys is building ships for tomorrow, utilising the latest in environmental-supporting technologies, while being ready to adapt to alternative energy solutions as they become available. The design incorporates provision for battery storage allowing future hybrid power generation, as well as the latest selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology, enabling a reduction of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 90%. Built with ship-to-shore power capabilities to avoid CO2 emissions while at berth and powered by marine gas oil, all four ships will be RINA DOLPHIN certified for reduced underwater noise. Single-use plastics will not be used onboard the ship, nor will they be offered during land-based experiences, as Explora Journeys is focused on leaving a positive impression on the places and people visited.

“The MSC Family knows the sea like few others, and with that knowledge comes passion, love and most of all, a deep respect,” continued Pierfrancesco Vago. “Our ships will utilise state of the art technology to ensure we are leading the movement towards a more sustainable future. Together with our partners, we’re currently developing ground-breaking technologies that will elevate the status quo, not just for this generation but also beyond.”

With journeys starting at 7 nights, a best-in-class guest experience will ensure relaxed mornings and exciting evenings. Non-conventional arrival and departure times combined with overnight stays will allow Explora Journeys to offer guests exclusive access to once in a lifetime experiences. With ships that travel far north and south of the equator, itineraries in the inaugural collection will offer the ideal blend of celebrated destinations such as Saint Tropez, Bordeaux and Reykjavik, and hidden

 gems such as Kastellorizo, Bozcaada and the Lofoten Islands. Explora Journeys will bring guests to lesser-travelled harbours to enjoy a more authentic experience and a slower pace of travel.

A Symbolic Emblem

Inspired by the mandala, the Explora Journeys logo was designed by Alexa Aponte-Vago, CFO of the MSC Group, daughter of founder Gianluigi Aponte and wife of Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago. With roots in spirituality, the pattern represents a journey of personal discovery and fulfilment. Illustrations of the lotus flower symbolise purity of body, speech, and mind, while a nod to the fleur-de-lis represents humility and a connection to European heritage. A sophisticated typeface alludes to the subtle curves of the sea.

Building a Ship Like No Other

This morning, Explora Journeys hosted a steel cutting ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. A long held maritime tradition, this moment celebrates the commencement of the building process for the first ship from Explora Journeys, Explora I, which is scheduled to set sail in 2023. Mr. Vago and Mr. Ungerer were both in attendance, alongside representatives from Fincantieri’s management team. Images of the steel cutting ceremony are available via here.

Bookings for the 2023 Inaugural Collection will open in Autumn 2021. To learn more about Explora Journeys, please visit ExploraJourneys.com, contact your travel advisor, or join the conversation @ExploraJourneys.

Source – Explora Journeys

Images © Explora Journeys

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Cruise News

MSC Meraviglia & MSC Divina To Spearhead MSC Cruises U.S. Cruising Restart

MSC Cruises yesterday announced their restart plans for cruising from U.S. ports commencing this August. The announcement follows the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) approval of Company’s Phase 2A Port Agreements for PortMiami and Port Canaveral as well as a provisional approval to conduct a simulation cruise onboard MSC Meraviglia from PortMiami on 17th July 2021.

MSC Meraviglia will then commence MSC Cruises’ restart in the U.S. on 2nd August 2021 with a series of 3 and 4-night cruises from Miami to The Bahamas and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. From 18th September, MSC Meraviglia will then undertake 7-night cruises to The Bahamas, Caribbean and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve from Miami.

MSC Divina will resume cruising from Port Canaveral on 16th September 2021 where she will be offering 3, 4 and 7-night cruise options to The Bahamas, Caribbean and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

These new itineraries onboard MSC Meraviglia and MSC Divina will officially open for U.S. bookings on Wednesday 16th June 2021.

A press release from MSC Cruises read:

Geneva, Switzerland (8 June 2021) — MSC Cruises – the world’s third-largest and fastest-growing cruise brand — announced its restart plans for cruising from U.S. ports beginning this August. The announcement follows CDC approval of the Company’s Phase 2A Port Agreements for PortMiami and Port Canaveral as well as the provisional approval of its request to conduct a simulation cruise, to be held on MSC Meraviglia from PortMiami on July 17, 2021.


MSC Meraviglia will kick off MSC Cruises’ restart starting August 2, 2021, with 3- and 4-night cruises from Miami to The Bahamas and featuring MSC Cruises’ exclusive new private island destination, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. Then, starting September 18, 2021, MSC Meraviglia will add 7-night cruises from Miami to The Bahamas and Caribbean, including Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. MSC Divina will resume cruising from Orlando (Port Canaveral) on September 16, 2021, offering 3-, 4- and 7-night cruise options from to The Bahamas and Caribbean, also including stops at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.


“With our vast experience cruising in Europe since August 2020 along with our industry-leading health and safety protocol, our U.S. guests can book with confidence knowing we are well prepared for a successful restart in that market,” said Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises. “To ensure the safest experience for our guests, we previously announced a fleet-wide vaccination program for all crew, and we expect that the majority of our guests booking a cruise this summer will plan to be vaccinated prior to sail. The rapid distribution of vaccines in the U.S. has been a positive step toward helping vacationers get back to traveling, and we encourage our guests to take advantage of this added layer of protection when resuming travel this summer.”


MSC Cruises will reveal additional itinerary details for cruises on board MSC Meraviglia and MSC Divina in the coming week, as well as health and safety measures and guidelines for guests. Cruises will welcome both vaccinated and non-vaccinated guests. Those who are not vaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be subject to requirements such as additional testing, as well as restrictions, which will be announced at a later date. Details of our current health and safety protocol can be found on MSC Cruises’ website at http://www.msccruisesusa.com/health-and-safety.
MSC Cruises is also confirming today the cancellation of existing U.S.-based sailings. The decision will affect the schedules of three ships based in Florida: MSC Divina scheduled to sail from Port Canaveral, and MSC Meraviglia and MSC Armonia scheduled to sail from PortMiami, as follows:

  • Cruises onboard MSC Divina from July 1, 2021 through to and including September 15, 2021
  • Cruises onboard MSC Meraviglia from July 1, 2021 through to and including September 17, 2021
  • Cruises onboard MSC Armonia from July 1, 2021 through to and including October 24, 2021

MSC Cruises’ new itineraries from the U.S. on board MSC Meraviglia and MSC Divina will officially open for U.S. bookings on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.
For additional details, guests should contact their travel advisor or MSC Cruises directly.

Source – MSC Cruises

Feature Image © MSC Cruises

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Cruise News

Plans For July Restart Confirmed By Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line today have confirmed their plans to return to guest operations from the Port of Galveston on 3rd July with Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze on 15th July.

These cruises will be available to guests who have received their final dose of a CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccine – at least 14 days prior to the start of the cruise and have proof of vaccination in accordance with the current guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”).

A third ship and port – Carnival Horizon – has been earmarked for a July resumption of guest operations from PortMiami and currently Carnival Cruise Line are working with the CDC and the State of Florida on plans for Carnival Horizon resuming operations. Carnival are looking to provide an update by Friday concerning the protocols specific to these cruises to all booked guests.

A press release from Carnival Cruise Line read:

Carnival Cruise Line today confirmed its plans to return to guest operations from Port of Galveston on July 3 with Carnival Vista, followed by the return of operations on Carnival Breeze on July 15.

These cruises are available for guests who have received their final dose of a CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise and have proof of vaccination, in accordance with current guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We appreciate the progress and support for our U.S. restart from the CDC and other key federal agencies; however, the current CDC requirements for cruising with a guest base that is unvaccinated will make it very difficult to deliver the experience our guests expect, especially given the large number of families with younger children who sail with us. As a result, our alternative is to operate our ships from the U.S. during the month of July with vaccinated guests,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

The other ship and port identified for a July restart is Carnival Horizon from PortMiami. Carnival continues to work with both the State of Florida and the CDC for Carnival Horizon sailings and plans to provide an update by Friday concerning protocols specific to these sailings to all booked guests.

Duffy also acknowledged the strong support of both Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, as well as other state officials, in making vaccinations available to cruise line personnel, which has expedited the restart process. She also said the support of local officials, especially Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Galveston Mayor Craig Brown, and PortMiami and Port of Galveston leaders, has been instrumental in the restart efforts.

Carnival also said it will be advising guests and travel advisors about its plans for August sailings over the coming days.

Source – Carnival Cruise Line

Feature image © Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line

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Cruise News

Norwegian Cruise Line Add Additional Voyages To Their U.S. Voyages Resumption Plan

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) have today announced they are adding additional voyages as part of their U.S. voyage resumption plan.

NCL are planning to set sail at the beginning of Summer 2021 with voyages from New York, Los Angeles, Port Canaveral and Miami – whilst their newest ship Norwegian Encore will debut in Alaska this summer in place of Norwegian Bliss.

These additional voyages are contingent to NCL obtaining a Conditional Sailing Certificate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) with all initial voyages operating with fully vaccinated guests and crew in addition to the company’s robust and multi-layers SailSafe health and safety program.

Norwegian Gem will operate seven-day itineraries to the Caribbean from Miami beginning 15th August 2021 and a four-day to the Bahamas from Miami in November.

There are also additional itineraries on sale onboard Norwegian Breakaway that from New York to Bermuda commencing 26th September 2021.

Norwegian Bliss will sail on 24th October 2021 to the Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles, whilst Norwegian Escape will depart on 13th November 2021 to the Caribbean from Port Canaveral.

Norwegian Encore – the newest ship in the NCL fleet – will be making her debut on the West Coast and replaces Norwegian Bliss for the 2021 summer Alaska season. Guests onboard for the Alaska itineraries will look forward to visits to Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Icy Strait Point whilst also offering spectacular views of Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier or Glacier Bay.

A press release from parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd read:

MIAMI, June 07, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (the “Company”) (NYSE: NCLH), a leading global cruise company which operates the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, today announced additional voyages as part of its U.S. voyage resumption plan. Norwegian Cruise Line plans to set sail beginning summer 2021 with voyages from New York, Los Angeles, Port Canaveral and Miami and the line announced that its newest innovative ship, Norwegian Encore will debut in Alaska this summer in place of Norwegian Bliss. Voyages expected to operate in the U.S. are contingent on obtaining a Conditional Sailing Certificate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”). All initial voyages will operate with fully vaccinated guests and crew in addition to the Company’s robust, multi-layered SailSAFETM health and safety program.

“I am pleased to continue our Great Cruise Comeback with plans already announced for 23 of our 28 ships across our three brands beginning in July 2021 and phasing in through early 2022,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “We want to thank Governor DeSantis and the State of Florida for fighting in support of our industry. His leadership helped bring the CDC to the table. We are currently in communication with his staff and legal counsel to ensure that we can offer the safest cruise experience for our passengers departing from the cruise capital of the world.”

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced further details on its phased voyage resumption plan for additional ships beginning summer 2021. Newly announced expected deployment plans include the following:

  • Norwegian Gem will cruise seven-day itineraries to the Caribbean beginning August 15, 2021 and a four-day voyage to the Bahamas in November from Miami;
  • Additional itineraries on Norwegian Breakaway are open for sale to Bermuda starting September 26, 2021 from New York;
  • Norwegian Bliss will sail on October 24, 2021 to the Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles;
  • Norwegian Escape will sail on November 13, 2021 to the Caribbean from Port Canaveral;
  • In addition, Norwegian Encore, the newest ship in the line’s fleet, will make her debut on the West Coast, taking the place of the previously announced Norwegian Bliss for the 2021 summer Alaska cruise season. The Alaska itinerary will include visits to Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Icy Strait Point, while also offering guests majestic views of Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier or Glacier Bay. Guests and travel partners with impacted reservations will be contacted directly.

The Company continues to expect a phased-in approach to reintroducing additional vessels while taking into account the public health environment, global travel restrictions, regulatory restrictions and port availability, among other considerations. All voyages will operate with the Company’s comprehensive SailSAFETM health and safety protocols which were developed with leading public health and scientific experts including the Healthy Sail Panel and the SailSAFE Global Health and Wellness Council. The Company’s SailSAFE protocols will be continuously evaluated and modified with the latest science and technology.

Source – Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.

Feature Image © Daniel Gosling

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Cruise News

Celebrity Millennium Kicks Off Caribbean Comeback With St.Maarten Departure

Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Millennium became the first cruise ship to resume sailings in the Caribbean and North America when she departed Philipsburg, St. Maarten yesterday – Saturday 5th June 2021.

Departing on a seven-night itinerary, the Millennium-class ship will visit Aruba, Barbados and Curacao – allowing guests the chance to enjoy the first cruise with Celebrity Cruises in 15 months.

It’s also the first time Celebrity Cruises has homeported St. Maarten and it is where the cruise line will be sailing Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises through August 2021.

Celebrity Millennium will be sailing under the strict health and safety protocols that the Royal Caribbean Group established through their Healthy Sail panel of scientific, medical and public health leaders – which includes lowered capacity of guests onboard for added space onboard, leveraged technology for arrival, departure and muster safety drill procedures.

A press release from Celebrity Cruises read:

ST. MAARTEN (JUNE 5, 2021) – With celebration and fanfare, Celebrity Cruises’ much-anticipated return to cruising became a reality today, as the new-luxury Celebrity Millennium set sail from the picturesque Caribbean port of Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Both a first for the industry in North America and the first of Celebrity’s fleet to return to sailing, Celebrity Millennium embarks on a seven-night itinerary visiting the treasured islands of Aruba, Barbados and Curacao, thrilling guests who have waited 15 months to experience the wonders of the world by sea.

The sailing also represents the first time Celebrity Cruises has homeported in St. Maarten, one of the most beautiful and vibrant Caribbean islands, where the cruise line now begins sailing Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries through August.

“Today, we sail, again! This is such a significant moment for our company, our industry and the Caribbean. That this day has finally arrived for our guests and our crew is truly special – beyond words, really,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises. “I am so happy to have our crew back onboard doing what they love and providing amazing vacations and service to our guests. I also am extremely grateful to the leadership of the St. Maarten government for their vision and support to make this moment happen. What an honor to now be the first to enthusiastically say, once again – ‘Welcome Aboard!’”

“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome our guests back to relax and start enjoying the travel experiences they’ve been craving all this time. Once onboard, they will discover reimagined accommodation, spa and entertainment offerings, along with considered and thoughtful health and safety measures,” said Celebrity Cruises Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations Brian Abel. “The end result of all that we have implemented will make cruises one of the safest ways to explore the world, while enjoying a wonderful and uncompromised vacation experience.”

Celebrity Millennium Captain Theodoros Zakkas added, “For the past several months, I had the privilege of maintaining this beautiful ship with a small 75-person crew. Today, with a full crew who were all smiles as we welcomed our guests onboard once again, has been very emotional for me. It has been a beautiful and historic homecoming, one that everyone involved – guests and crew – will never forget.”

Healthy at Sea

Celebrity Millennium sails with enhanced health and safety standards that are the culmination of more than a year of diligent work with public health authorities, government agencies and its Healthy Sail Panel of scientific, medical and public health leaders.

In addition to launching its phased restart with reduced capacity to allow for more natural spacing, Celebrity has leveraged technology to create new arrival, departure and muster safety drill procedures; and updated onboard and shoreside experiences to reflect new standard health and safety practices; all with the well-being of guests, crew and the communities visited by Celebrity ships at the forefront of the planning process.

With the new measures, guests return to experiencing all of the distinctive touches they have come to love and expect from a Celebrity cruise: industry-leading ship design with impeccably stylish accommodations and remarkable outdoor spaces; unparalleled culinary experiences in captivating environments; impeccable hospitality elevating personal, friendly service to an art form; and a penchant for wellbeing woven into every aspect of the onboard experience.

As guests and crew work together to promote onboard health and safety, some of the new measures include:

Vaccinated Sailings – Celebrity will sail in the Caribbean with a vaccinated crew and at least 95% vaccinated guests.
Staggered Arrivals and Departures – Terminal arrivals and departures will be staggered by appointment, with guests having the ability to select their preferred times based on travel plans.
Contactless Transactions – Celebrity’s digitally advanced mobile app* transforms the decades-old large-group-gathering Muster safety drill into a personal eMuster experience that guests can complete on their mobile device or interactive stateroom TV, avoiding large group gatherings. The app also expedites the boarding process; and allows guests to read menus and book dining reservations and shore excursions via their smartphone.
Appropriate Face Coverings – During the Terminal check-in and check-out process, all guests 2 years of age and older will be required to wear an appropriate face covering. Once onboard, and unless otherwise stipulated by local governments, masks will not be required in accordance with recent CDC guidance for sailings with vaccinated crew and guests.
Celebrity’s new measures may evolve in keeping with current public health standards and may vary in accordance with local guidance in the destinations visited. Guests are encouraged to regularly check the guidance on all health and safety measures across the entire Celebrity Cruises vacation experience at CelebrityCruises.com/healthy-at-sea.

Cruise with Confidence

Providing travel flexibility, Celebrity’s Cruise with Confidence policy allows guests who have booked by July 31, 2021 to cancel for any reason up to 48 hours before departure on sailings through Sept. 30, 2022 and receive a 100% credit for a future cruise.

Celebrity Millennium guests are also the first to experience Celebrity’s new ‘Always IncludedSM’ approach where Wi-Fi, drinks and gratuities are always included in the cruise fare.

Sailing Forward

Celebrity Cruises has announced plans to sail eight of the 14 ships in its fleet as part of its phased restart. Celebrity Millennium will soon be joined by: Celebrity Apex – sailing the Aegean beginning June 19; Celebrity Edge – sailing the Caribbean from Ft. Lauderdale, FL on June 26; Celebrity Silhouette – sailing the UK coastline as of July 3; Celebrity Flora – returning to the extraordinary Galapagos islands as of July3, followed by the award-winning Celebrity Xpedition and intimate 16-passenger Celebrity Xploration on July 24, and September 18, respectively; and sailings to Alaska from Seattle begin July 23.

For more information on all of the new sailings offered by Celebrity Cruises, visit

CelebrityCruises.com/2021-2022-cruises.

Source – Celebrity Cruises

Feature image © Celebrity Cruises

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Cruise News

Port Canaveral Welcomes Home Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras

Carnival Cruise Line’s newest, largest and most environmentally friendly cruise ship Mardi Gras arrived into Port Canaveral this morning for the very first time.

The 180,000 GRT, 5200 passenger capacity ship is the largest ship ever constructed for Carnival Cruise Line.

She will be the first cruise ship in North America to be powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas) and will also boast a whole range of technology and innovations, including BOLT – the first roller coaster at sea.

Carnival Liberty passing Mardi Gras in Port Canaveral this morning. Image © Carnival Cruise Line

With more than 2600 staterooms and 180 suites spread over 11 categories on offer, guests will have a wider range of accommodation to chose from on board.

Mardi Gras‘ venues, dining and entertainment will be spread throughout six different zones including a new restaurant by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, the first ever Big Chicken by Shaquille O’Neal on a Carnival ship and two dining venues from Food Network star Guy Fieri and a new restaurant concept from master chef Rudi Sodamin. The focal point of the ship will be a stunningly breathtaking three-deck atrium which will feature floor-to-ceiling windows and movable LED screens which will open up to a wonderful ocean view.

A press release from Carnival Cruise Line read:

Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras, made her U.S. debut this morning, docking for the first time at Port Canaveral’s Cruise Terminal 3, built specifically for this vessel which is the first in the Americas powered by eco-friendly Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and features the first roller coaster at sea.

Port Canaveral-based Carnival Freedom and Carnival Liberty joined Mardi Gras as she made her way down the cruise channel, creating a truly grand and memorable entrance befitting this innovative, game-changing ship.

More than 1,500 fans lined Jetty Park, located adjacent to the terminal, to welcome Mardi Gras to the Space Coast, while Carnival President Christine Duffy, Carnival Corp. Chairman Micky Arison, Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald, Carnival Corporation COO Josh Weinstein, and Canaveral Port Authority CEO Captain John Murray, along with 300 travel advisors, partners, dignitaries and guests, participated in a welcome reception highlighting the excitement for Mardi Gras’ arrival and its impact on the local economy.

A video highlighting the journey of Mardi Gras from construction to today’s arrival in Port Canaveral can be viewed here.

“Mardi Gras has been five years in the making and today’s arrival is a historic milestone for our company not to mention a truly emotional moment for everyone here at Carnival Cruise Line,” said Duffy. “This ship offers so many innovations and ways for our guests to choose fun that we are certain that she will quickly become a guest favorite. And as we look forward to our restart in guest operations, Mardi Gras’ arrival is symbolic of the excitement and anticipation we have about the future at Carnival Cruise Line.”

“For nearly four years we have been working hard to prepare for Mardi Gras,” said Capt. Murray. “As we welcome home this magnificent ship to Port Canaveral, we are filled with pride to see her at berth at our beautiful Cruise Terminal 3.”

The company will now begin the process of ramping up Mardi Gras’ crew to a full contingent of 1,750 ready to create memorable vacations for guests who will enjoy the widest array of entertainment at sea, including the first shipboard version of the hit TV show Family Feud, and dine in more than two dozen restaurants with venues from Guy Fieri, Emeril Lagasse, Rudi Sodiman and the line’s Chief Fun Officer Shaquille O’Neal.

Guests can enjoy a host of culinary, bar and entertainment experiences throughout 19 decks and six distinct themed zones, as well as a wide range of outdoor attractions, including the longest ropes course and largest water park in the fleet.

Mardi Gras will sail year-round from Port Canaveral, offering seven-day itineraries to the eastern and western Caribbean.

For additional information on Carnival Cruise Line and to book a cruise vacation, call 1-800-CARNIVAL, visit http://www.carnival.com, or contact your favorite travel advisor or online travel site.

Source – Carnival Cruise Line
Images and video © Carnival Cruise Line

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Cruise News

MSC Cruises To Restart Sailing Operations In Spain From 26th June

MSC Cruises have confirmed they are restarting sailing operations in Spain with the deployment of MSC Grandiosa to Barcelona from 26th June – with a Saturday embarkation.

In addition, Valencia will also be added as an additional port of call as of 30th July.

The news follows recent announcements from MSC Cruises with regards to their ships restarting in Germany, France and the Baltic in addition to the current itineraries for Summer 2021 in the Eastern and Western Mediterranean as well as in the UK.

A press release from MSC Cruises read:

Geneva, Switzerland, 03 June 2021 – MSC Cruises today announced it will restart its sailing operations in Spain with the deployment of MSC Grandiosa to Barcelona from 26 June for a Saturday embarkation. Valencia will then be added as an additional port of call as of 30 July.

This follows recent announcements by the line that its ships are restarting operations in Germany, France and the Baltics in addition to its current and other Summer 2021 confirmed itineraries in the West and East Mediterranean as well as UK. Barcelona is also a major international travel hub with a leading airport that international guests can now fly to and join their cruises directly.

Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC Cruises, said: “When we first announced our confirmed programmes for summer 2021, we indicated that we would enrich them with any new ports and destinations as they became available. This is the case today with Spain and Barcelona, thus allowing our guests to visit this magnificent destination that has been unavailable since March of last year thanks to the secure bubble ashore excursions we provide under our health and safety operating protocol. This will also make an international cruise holiday on an MSC Cruises ship more easily available to more of our guests living in Spain and for the first time on one of our most modern and innovative ships, MSC Grandiosa.

As measures are progressively relaxing across Europe and beyond and tourism resumes, we have every confidence that our progressive resumption of service will continue to move forward and that we will be able to add more ports and destinations from more countries to our itineraries very soon. This will allow us to either enrich existing itineraries or add new ones.”

This resumption of service is fully in line with local regulations in Spain and will be supported by MSC Cruises’ industry-leading Health & Safety protocol, which has protected tens of thousands of guests, as well as crew members and local communities since the line first introduced it in August 2020 on MSC Grandiosa.

MSC Grandiosa offers seven-night cruises in the Western Mediterranean calling Genoa, Civitavecchia/Rome, Naples, Palermo, Valetta in Malta and now Barcelona in Spain on Saturdays with embarkation in the Italian ports as well as Barcelona. From 30 July, MSC Grandiosa will add Valencia to the itinerary with embarkation on Fridays and the ship will then offer from 31 July, seven-night itineraries calling Barcelona, Genoa, La Spezia for Florence and Pisa and Civitavecchia/Rome and Valencia.

MSC Seaside is also sailing in the Mediterranean and since 20 May the newly-launched MSC Virtuosa is operating cruises around the British Isles for UK residents. While MSC Seaview will restart voyages in the Baltics from Germany on 3 July.

MSC Grandiosa’s current itinerary is available for bookings and sales for the sailings from 26 July will open on Saturday 5 June.

Source – MSC Cruises

Feature Image © MSC Cruises