(Updated 1:37 p.m. EST) -- The omicron COVID-19 surge has caused several cruise lines, including Fred. Olsen, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean International, and Windstar -- to cancel upcoming cruises on several vessels.
For some ships, the cancellations are short term, with just a few cruises affected. But for others, the pause in operations extends several months or wipes out an entire season.
On January 11, Norwegian Cruise Line informed passengers that near-term sailings on additional ships would be canceled, primarily for departures over the next two weeks (details below). The move follows the line's previous cruise suspensions that were announced during the first week of January. Additional cancellations were announced on January 19.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has been at the forefront of COVID-19 precautions. The company was the last of the big three cruise conglomerates to return to service in summer 2021 and the first to require vaccination for all passengers. Royal Caribbean, too, has likewise been cautious in its cruise return to service.
Across cruising, cases of omicron have occurred onboard among passengers and crew, although at lower levels of spread than is happening on land, according to the Cruise Lines International Association. While omicron doesn't seem to have the same levels of severity and hospitalization rates as other COVID-19 variants, it is fast spreading across the U.S. and other countries due to its transmissibility.
Here is the breakdown of which cruises are affected:
German brand AIDA has pulled the plug on Caribbean cruises aboard AIDAluna. The Carnival Corporation brand will return AIDAluna to service on March 30, 2022.
Azamara Cruises Cancellations
Sailings on Azamara Journey have been paused between February 8 and May 19, 2022. All cruises during that time period have now been canceled.
Celebrity Cruises Cancellations
On January 17, Celebrity Cruises announced it would cancel four sailings aboard Celebrity Eclipse: March 26, April 2, April 9, and April 16, 2022. The ship will now enter service from Vancouver, British Columbia in late April, sailing first to Hawaii, then Alaska.
On January 20, Celebrity announced all Celebrity Infinity sailings in Europe would be canceled between April 15 and November 28, 2022. The ship will be redeployed in the Caribbean in the summer and fall months.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Line Cancellations
On January 13, Fred. Olsen announced it has removed its Braemar from service until 2023, and has scrapped sailings aboard Balmoral until May. Balmoral will reportedly take over some previously-announced voyages that were due to be operated by the smaller, 1993-built Braemar.
Holland America Line Cancellations
Holland America announced on January 13 it will cancel additional departures aboard Nieuw Amsterdam into February. The ship is scheduled to resume service from Fort Lauderdale as of the February 19, 2022 voyage to the Caribbean.
Norwegian Cruise Line Cancellations
The first round of NCL's cancellations, with the exception of Norwegian Getaway's nine-day Caribbean sailing that was canceled in early Januaryy, most of Norwegian's suspensions were centered around the line's older ships. The second wave announced Jan. 11, however, has canceled sailings on the line's larger ships.
On January 13, select sailings aboard two additional ships were canceled.
In addition, the line's Hawaii season on Pride of America is being pushed back to March 5, 2022.
All passengers booked on the sailings will receive an automatic full refund, returned to the same form of payment provided at the time of the reservation, as well as a bonus Future Cruise Credit for a future cruise.
The affected ships include:
All Norwegian Pearl cruises through January 17, 2022.
All Norwegian Sky cruises through February 25, 2022.
All Norwegian Jade cruises through March 3, 2022.
All Norwegian Star cruises through March 19, 2022.
All Norwegian Sun cruises through April 19, 2022.
All Norwegian Spirit cruises through April 23, 2022.
All Pride of America cruises through April 2, 2022.
All Norwegian Jewel cruises through March 20, 2022.
Norwegian Dawn's January 13 and 18, 2022 cruises.
Nowegian Escape's January 15 and 22, 2022 cruises.
Norwegian Getaway's January 14 and 19, 2022 cruises.
Norwegian Joy's January 15 and 22, 2022 cruises.
Norwegian Breakaway cruises through January 23, 2022.
Norwegian Gem's current voyage (departed January 9, 2022.
Oceania Cruises Cancellations
For Oceania and Regent, the canceled cruises were on ships sailing in regions that have installed new travel restrictions and COVID-19 testing requirements.
South America in particular, where Oceania's Marina was based for the winter 2022 season, has proven problematic, with Brazil closed to cruise travel and other countries imposing new requirements. Marina will now take over Sirena's Caribbean itineraries beginning January 22, with the latter vessel remaining temporarily out of service.
"Complying with the evolving testing, health, and entry requirements for Argentina and Chile has presented a significant challenge and at this juncture, with the introduction of new and prohibitive entry restrictions, we can no longer be assured of clear passage for our guests and crew," the line said in a note to passengers.
"All Oceania passengers will automatically receive a full refund of the cruise fare paid back to the form of original payment."
Regent Seven Seas Cruise Cancellations
Regent has canceled the February 28 sailing on Seven Seas Mariner, which was scheduled to leave Cape Town in South Africa and sail to Singapore. Passengers booked on the sailing will receive a full refund.
In addition, the line has altered its World Cruise on the ship, which was scheduled to leave San Francisco in early January. The ship will make the first segment, an 18-night voyage through the Panama Canal to Miami. But then the four segments will all leave from Miami, visiting the Caribbean and the Amazon before returning to San Francisco on April 10 via the Panama Canal.
Passengers who continue on the new 120-night cruise will receive a 30 percent refund. Those who shorten the cruise after a segment will get a refund for the nights not sailed, plus 15 percent. Anyone who cancels in full gets a full refund.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Cancellations
Multiple sailings across four Royal Caribbean ships were canceled in the first week of January, crossing out sailings well into spring for some vessels. The cruise line cited the cause for the pause as being "the ongoing COVID-19-related circumstances around the world" and noted that the cancellations were done out of "an abundance of caution".
The affected sailings include:
All Jewel of the Seas cruises departing through February 12, 2022. Cruises will resume on February 20, 2022.
All Serenade of the Seas cruises departing through March 5, 2022. Cruises will resume on April 26, 2022, post-dry dock.
All Symphony of the Seas cruises departing through January 22, 2022. Cruises will resume on January 29, 2022.
Jewel of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas had already returned to service. Cruise Critic sailed aboard Serenade of the Seas during its first return to Alaska in July 2021. The fourth affected ship, Vision of the Seas was scheduled to restart its cruises on January 24, 2022, however, that date has now been pushed back to March 7, 2022, as a result of the cancellations.
On January 14, Royal Caribbean also canceled a one-off sailing of Independence of the Seas due to COVID-19. That sailing is January 22, 2022, which the line informed booked passengers about late Friday.