Your jabs are done, your passport is dusty -- what's next? Time to book your first post-vaccine vacation!
Some people are dubbing these first antibody-rich trips "revenge travel," a play on getting back the time that was spent cooped up in the house. We prefer the bright and shiny term "vaxications," as some of those first cruises will be all about enjoying someplace new with friends, family and loved ones you haven't seen for over a year.
While cruises are still paused from most United States homeports, there are an emerging number of destinations where you can take your first post-vaccine cruise. Keep in mind that entry requirements can change for destinations this year, and you will likely have to have at least one COVID-19 test, plus possibly another to get back into the United States. It pays to be flexible when planning your first cruise out.
Whether you're in it for revenge or just need a change of scenery, here are our picks for your 2021 cruise vaxication.
Cruises on small ships are open for vaccinated travellers in Alaska, where UnCruise Adventures and Lindblad Expeditions are both offering small-ship adventures. Other lines, including Alaskan Dream Cruises and American Cruise Lines, are also operating in Alaska, but at this time without vaccine requirements.
Because big-ship cruising remains on-pause in Alaska, 2021 is the year to see Alaska the way it used to be. The small ships will be spending oodles of time in Alaska's wilderness, from Sitka Sound to Tracy Arm Fjord to Glacier Bay.
Who will love it: People who have always wanted to visit Alaska, but have been scared off by crowds; there won't be any this year, so expect a ton of wildlife viewings and quality outdoor time.
The Bahamas was a popular place to cruise in the Before Times. In 2021, it's re-emerging, thanks to Crystal and Royal Caribbean, which will both be operating out of the island archipelago, beginning in June and July.
Most people are probably aware of Nassau, located on the island of New Providence, and its many attractions, including Junkanoo Beach, Cable Beach, the Atlantis Hotel and Resort complex, and the Queen's Staircase, one of the most visited sites within the historic Fort Fincastle complex. Adventure of the Seas will be based here, sailing to family-friendly destinations such as Cozumel and Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean's private island.
Who will love it: These cruises are open to vaccinated adults, including families, provided the kiddos test negative for COVID-19.
Bimini, meanwhile, is much less trafficked by cruise vessels. This is where Crystal will be running a limited sailing season on Crystal Serenity. Bimini is known for incredible scuba diving and sport fishing, sandy beaches, and laid-back island life. Meanwhile, the other islands on the itinerary, such as Great Harbour, are upscale sanctuaries that typically only draw the yacht crowd.
Who will love it: Luxury lovers who want to feel like they are discovering someplace new, that isn't too far away from home.
Royal Caribbean will deploy its Vision of the Seas from Bermuda this summer, sailing roundtrip from the Royal Naval Dockyard near Bermuda's West End. From here, cruisers can explore further afar to see Hamilton, or visit some of the country's notable attractions including the Crystal Caves, Aquarium and Zoo, and Gibb's Hill Lighthouse, a working structure dating back to the 19th century.
The island's famed beaches are a quick taxi ride away from the Royal Dockyard and the ship is staying overnight so you can have time to try Bermuda's delicious cocktails. Families will appreciate the cruise stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Who will love it: With amazing beaches, lots of history and a distinct British flare, Bermuda has nice choices for families, groups of friends and couples alike.
A new homeport for Royal Caribbean, Jewel of the Seas will kick off its 2021 season from Limassol, Cyprus, beginning July 10.
These weeklong cruises will call on some of the most historic ports in the Eastern Mediterranean, including Athens and the Greek islands of Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos and Santorini. Appealing to culture mavens and historians alike, these sailings trace a path through some of the oldest civilizations in the region, offering passengers the chance to explore the Acropolis or stroll Athens' historic Plaka district; explore the Palace of Knossos in Crete; stroll the quiet streets of Mykonos, or explore the walled city of Rhodes.
Limassol, too, is worth hanging around in. Nearby are the ruins of the ancient city of Kurion that are well worth a visit, while Limassol itself boasts a striking medieval castle and an Old Town rife with Colonial architecture and influence.
Who will love it: With easy access for Europeans and Brits, these sailings will draw history buffs, culture mavens and families looking for fun in the sun.
One of the world's most bucket-list destinations, vaccinated cruisers can set sail for the Galapagos Islands with several lines, including UnCruise Adventures and Lindblad Expeditions; Metropolitan Touring has also been sailing in the archipelago since last November under strict testing requirements.
The Galapagos is a nature-lover's paradise; one filled with marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, flamingos, and giant tortoises. Visitors to Post Office Bay, on the Island of Floreana, can "send" a postcard back to themselves the old-fashioned way, hoping a fellow traveller will pick it up and deliver it to them. It's a true bucket-list destination, with even fewer crowds this year.
Who will love it: People who are vaccinated and want to get started again on their bucket list travel as soon as possible.
The country that needs no introduction, Greece offers an abundance of dreamlike qualities, from its ancient history to the Acropolis in Athens to the sun-drenched shores of its islands. Most people will be familiar with the windmills of Mykonos, the historic walled city of Rhodes, and the white-washed buildings perched high atop the cliffs of Santorini.
Greece is poised to welcome vaccinated travellers beginning in May -- and several cruise lines are in position to welcome those travellers when they do.
Celestyal Cruises will resume operations aboard Celestyal Olympia and the newly-acquired Celestyal Experience in late May. The line offers three, four, and seven-day inclusive voyages to the Greek Islands and Eastern Mediterranean ports of call, with extended voyages to places like Egypt, Israel and Turkey.
Who will love it: People who want a full immersion into Greece; the line has Greek food, Greek entertainment and provides a true Greek experience.
Celebrity Cruises, meanwhile, will homeport its newest ship, Celebrity Apex, outside Athens this summer, offering alternating weeklong sailings to either the Greek Islands or Eastern Mediterranean to vaccinated passengers.
Who will love it: People who are ready to get back on a brand-new cruise ship with all the bells and whistles.
French cruise operator Ponant intends to start up operations in Iceland, christening its newest expedition ship Le Commandant Charcot there in May. The island has declared itself open to vaccinated travelers, so expect more cruise itineraries to come.
Iceland itself is filled with diverse attractions, from the dramatic Gullffoss waterfalls to rides atop Icelandic horses through the countryside, to the remarkable town of Akureyri -- which boasts the world's most northerly ice-free harbor. It's an expedition cruisers' dream, and yet is an easy flight from the U.S. East Coast, as well as the UK and Europe.
Who will love it: People who want all the trappings of an expedition cruise, on an island that's easily cruiseable within a week.
One of the most popular Eastern Caribbean locales, St. Maarten is a slice of Europe in the Caribbean, with half the country being an overseas territory of the Netherlands. That is where you'll be sailing from, with Philipsburg becoming Celebrity Cruises' newest Caribbean homeport for Celebrity Millennium, starting in June.
In Philipsburg alone, the beach is a two-minute water taxi ride from the cruise piers. Hotels and resorts are numerous, allowing for pre-and-post-cruise extensions. Don't miss watching the planes land at the world-famous Sunset Beach Bar.
Who will love it: People who are looking for a chic and fun Caribbean vacation that truly has it all.
Updated April 01, 2021