(3:05 p.m. EDT) -- Royal Caribbean announced Friday it will have 12 cruise ships fully operational by the end of August, with the remainder of the fleet to re-enter service by the end of the year, including the brand-new Odyssey of the Seas on July 3, 2021.
The line's return to service begins July 2 in Miami, with Freedom of the Seas embarking on a special Fourth of July sailing to Royal Caribbean's private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay. The line plans to have vessels in service in the Bahamas, Caribbean, Alaska and Europe by the end of summer.
Royal Caribbean's newest vessel, Odyssey of the Seas, will enter service from Fort Lauderdale on July 3. The ship was originally to sail a season of cruises around Israel before those were cancelled last month. The brand-new ship arrived today in Port Canaveral, Florida, marking its maiden arrival into the United States.
Odyssey of the Seas will sail six-and-eight-night Caribbean Cruises, which are now open for booking. Other ships re-entering service in the Caribbean include Allure of the Seas from Port Canaveral on August 8; Symphony of the Seas from Miami on August 14; Independence of the Seas from Galveston on August 15; and Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral on August 23.
Serenade of the Seas will set sail in Alaska on roundtrip voyages from Seattle beginning July 19, with Ovation of the Seas joining on Seattle roundtrips beginning August 13, 2021.
In Europe, the Oasis-class Harmony of the Seas will begin sailings from Barcelona on August 15, 2021, on weeklong sailings throughout the Mediterranean.
The news follows on the heels of the announcement that Adventure of the Seas would begin sailing from the Bahamas on June 12, along with voyages on Anthem of the Seas from the UK from July 7 and Jewel of the Seas from Cyprus from July 10.
Royal Caribbean's new 2021 cruises, including voyages on Odyssey of the Seas, are available for booking now. The line notes that existing voyages through August outside of the ships mentioned above will be cancelled.
“This is it," said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International, in a statement released by the line. "Vacationers can finally plan to take their precious time off this summer and truly get away after what has been a challenging time for everyone. I would like to sincerely thank our guests and travel partners for their incredible patience and understanding during this very difficult period."
Royal Caribbean notes that while it will not be requiring vaccinations on certain sailings (excluding Alaska aboard Serenade and Ovation of the Seas, where passengers over 16 years of age, or 12 years of age as of August 1, must be vaccinated against COVID-19), it recommends that all passengers who are eligible to be vaccinated should be prior to setting sail.
The line stated that, "Those who are unvaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols, which will be announced at a later date."
International sailings outside the United States will be required to meet local travel and health requirements for entry, which could include proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
"Thanks in large part to the successful rollout of vaccines, the world of adventure is beginning to open up, and we are all excited to start delivering great vacations to our guests, who have increasingly told us they are getting vaccinated," said Bayley. "As of today, 90 percent of all vacationers booking with Royal Caribbean are either vaccinated or planning to get vaccinated in time for their cruise."
Royal Caribbean notes it will communicate additional information on health and safety protocols for these new voyages in the coming weeks. It states it is also in communication with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding requirements for upcoming sailings and simulation cruises where necessary.
Applications for simulated cruises needed prior to approval for sailing for ships mandating less than 95 percent vaccination rate for passengers are ongoing, according to the line, and are being issued on a rolling basis by the CDC, with approvals for Allure and Symphony of the Seas being granted just one day ago.
The CDC has been processing an increasing number of approvals for simulated voyages as required under the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order that sets out requirements to be met prior to the resumption of cruise in the United States.
Cruise Critic will update this article with more information as it becomes available.