After many months of waiting, cruising is gradually restarting around the globe -- with a long-awaited resumption date granted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to Celebrity Cruises for a U.S. restart on June 26, 2021.
Celebrity Edge will sail from Fort Lauderdale, with fully vaccinated passengers and crew onboard, alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries. Its return marks the first ship to set sail from a U.S. homeport since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 -- and the resumption of cruising from the U.S.
There's more good news on the other side of the country, with lines all announcing Alaska restart dates following the successful passage of the Bill which temporarily revokes the PVSA and thus allowing cruise ships to skip a stop in Canada, which has banned cruise ships for the season.
On the other side of the pond, MSC Cruises restarted May 20 from the U.K., sailing its newest ship, MSC Virtuosa, on a four-night domestic sailing from Southampton; Viking followed suit two days later with its new ship, Viking Venus.
And at time of writing, at least 17 lines including Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages and Royal Caribbean will be operating 22 ships around the U.K. this summer (you can read the full list here).
Things are also picking up in the Caribbean, with Celebrity resuming sailings from St Maarten on June 5 on Celebrity Millennium, marking the restart of cruising in that region.
And in Greece, there are at last count 11 lines operating in and around the islands and Cyprus, starting with home-grown line Celestyal Cruises restarting on May 29.
We've been staying on top of the situation, updating our stories with that information along with cruise line responses and changes to cancellation policies, and affected ports and cruise ships.
Read on for a wrap-up of how the virus is affecting cruise, ways you can protect yourself, and tools and resources for staying abreast of this fast-developing situation -- and where you can cruise from this summer.
How will it affect cruise planning?
After months of uncertainty, it is now safe to start planning your cruise for 2021. The the key thing most cruisers need to know is whether they have to be vaccinated or not, with some lines mandating a double vaccination and others not.
Other lines have surprised cruisers by sending well-loved ships to the scrapyard. Recent months have seen Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Inspiration beached, along with the former Sovereign and Monarch of the Seas.
A handful of smaller cruise lines, including Cruise and Maritime Voyages and Spanish-operator Pullmantur have gone bankrupt.
In addition, many lines are extending the validity of Future Cruise Credits (FCCs) for canceled cruises well into next year and beyond, with some lines allowing cruisers to rebook voyages into 2023.
Travel restrictions continue to be problematic as of May 2021. Much of where cruisers will be able to travel and when will depend on their nationality and restrictions in place at their destination and their country of residence. The US-Canadian border continues to be closed.
How are cruise lines changing their cancellation policies?
Many cruise lines have adopted more flexible cancellation policies, allowing passengers to cancel cruises in some cases up to 48 hours before scheduled departure.
Many cruise lines are offering the option of purchasing additional COVID-19 cancellation insurance on new cruise bookings, and some have relaxed policies around refundable deposits and even final payment schedules in order to give cruisers additional peace of mind.
**To find out how cruise lines are handling cancellations, read Cruise Critic's article on flexible policies.
How are cruise ports reacting?
Ports around the world are gradually reopening.
**Read the latest information on which ports are closed and for how long.
Where can I learn more?
Cruise Critic answers frequently asked questions about what cruisers need to know.
Additionally, Here’s a roundup of resources for learning more about COVID-19:
By region and country: