(3:50 p.m. EST) -- Two of cruising's largest brands -- Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line -- restarted cruises from three additional U.S. homeports over the weekend, increasing the number of available ships operating from popular "drive-up" embarkation ports on the eastern seaboard.
Carnival officially restarted its cruises from Tampa over the weekend, with the 2,124-passenger Carnival Pride returning to the popular Florida departure port to offer six, seven and eight-night cruises to the Western Caribbean.
Carnival has been sailing from Tampa since it became the first cruise line to do so, back in 1994.
“We are so pleased to have Carnival Cruise Line returning to Port Tampa Bay today. The return of cruising has a far-reaching impact on our region, with many local businesses standing to benefit. It’s estimated that a ship like Carnival Pride generates an average of $334,000 in passenger and crew onshore spending per call,” said Raul Alfonso, executive vice president and chief commercial officer, Port Tampa Bay.
The smaller, Fantasy-class ship Carnival Paradise will also return to Tampa to begin revenue cruises in March 2022.
Meanwhile, Carnival also restarted Carnival Legend on voyages out of Baltimore to the Bahamas this past weekend, with departures on Sundays. Carnival Legend becomes the 15th ship to resume revenue cruises for Carnival, and takes over from sister-ship Carnival Pride, which has operated out of Baltimore for many years.
The line is also deploying Carnival Legend on a handful of longer cruises from Baltimore, including a 14-night Panama Canal sailing.
Built in 2002, Carnival Legend underwent a technical drydock during its 20-month long operational hiatus, receiving Carnival's new blue, white and red livery that debuted aboard Carnival's Mardi Gras earlier this year.
Norwegian Cruise Line joined the fray this past weekend as well, restarting its eighth ship since the global health pandemic began.
Norwegian Escape set sail from Port Canaveral, near Orlando, on its first revenue cruise this past Saturday. The ship will sail seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruises that visit Tortola, St. Thomas and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian Cruise Line's private Bahamian island.
Sailing out of Port Canaveral, Norwegian Escape will also offer a special Holiday voyage departing December 23, 2021, with Christmas Day spent in the Dominican Republic and New Year's Eve in St. Thomas.
The 2015-built Norwegian Escape is the latest Norwegian Cruise Line ship to re-enter service from the United States, a process that began back in August when Norwegian Encore became the first Norwegian Cruise Line ship to sail from a U.S. homeport when it departed Seattle's Pier 66 for Alaska.
Additional Norwegian Cruise Line ships are scheduled to enter service in the coming months, including the line's U.S.-flagged Pride of America from Honolulu, Hawaii on January 22, 2022.