June 17, 2021
(3:30 p.m. EDT) -- As cruise lines begin to restart around the world for the Summer 2021 season, excitement is in the air as ships start repositioning to their eventual homeports. Even this simple act -- one that would have gone largely unnoticed in the pre-pandemic era -- is cause for a frisson in the digital air aboard Cruise Critic's message boards.
Here are a few noteworthy ship movements this week that are giving cruisers around the world reason to hope for a summer of sailing the seven seas this year.
Eagle-eyed Cruise Critic members spotted Royal Caribbean's 2003-built Serenade of the Seas pulling up anchor and heading for the Pacific Ocean this week. The Radiance Class ship is destined for Seattle, and is currently at anchor off the Panama Canal, awaiting transit.
Serenade of the Seas enters service from Seattle to Alaska on July 17, becoming the first big-ship to return to the region since the fall of 2019 -- and cruisers are excited.
"Next stop: Colon, Panama," writes tree_skier. "Seattle WA here we come!"
"Awesome news!!" writes allieic95. "Can't wait. We are booked on Serenade's second sailing."
"We aren't even sailing on Serenade until next summer, but this still is exciting to see! Any step towards cruising is a good thing in my eyes!" writes erinsmom03.
On the other side of the world, UK-based Saga was readying its own fleet for re-entry into service, performing sea trials aboard Spirit of Discovery off the coast of England.
Under the command of Captain Darin Bowland (of ex-Holland America Line and Royal Caribbean fame), Spirit of Discovery is operating a six-day technical shakedown cruise in advance of its first departure with passengers on June 27.
As Captain Bowland explains on his blog on Saga's website, the voyage is designed to ensure Spirit of Discovery is ready for its first passengers to embark -- and its first true sailing -- in 15 months.
"A long layup period is not optimal for a ship like Discovery and now it’s time to get the ship operational again," writes Captain Bowland. "A 4-hour transit down the famous River Thames and then we will exercise the ship in a designated area, away from other traffic."
Spirit of Discovery returns to service for fully vaccinated UK residents this month. Sister-ship Spirit of Adventure -- which never officially entered passenger service owing to the coronavirus pandemic -- follows shortly thereafter.
Residents on England's south coast seem to be having all the fun this week, with new ships arriving into Southampton to prepare for their return to service on domestic UK cruises for local residents.
This week's noteworthy arrival into Southampton was Regal Princess. Princess Cruises' second Royal Class ship sailed up the Solent and into the historic port city this week, coming alongside Carnival's Ocean Terminal in the morning hours.
The ship will sail in and out of Southampton -- and come alongside at various terminals in the city -- until its first revenue cruise with passengers, set to depart on July 31, 2021. The ship will perform a series of 14 voyages for UK passengers, and will range from three to seven nights in duration.
"She docked this morning, I am beyond excited, just 46 days until our section cruise on her," writes windsurferfirst.
"Not sailing until 1st September, but nice to know she’s arrived safely," writes favouriteplaces.
Regal Princess fans who aren't even booked on these initial UK sailings were glad to see the ship preparing to re-enter active service.
"We just booked for April to the Mediterranean and it’s nice to see her coming back online," writes jimbob70.