It’s the question on every cruiser’s lips: when will cruising start again in our region?
And the answer may come as a pleasant surprise: Ponant already has journeys slated to start next month in New Zealand, and is fervently hoping that will open up the Kimberley here in Australia.
Coral Expeditions is expanding, with new voyages this month, including the Great Australian Bight.
The cruise line’s flagship Coral Adventurer will return to operations from Cairns later this January after a 10-month hiatus, having recently completed an eight-voyage season alongside Coral Discoverer on the Great Barrier Reef.
Our own home-based line P&O Australia is scheduled to begin sailing from Sydney on 30 April 2021 while Pacific Encounter is due to call Brisbane home from 7 May 2021, though both of these dates depend on the Australian government indicating it is lifting its’ ban on foreign flagged cruise ships.
Vessels take up to 12 weeks to prepare for sailing and crews would need to quarantine in Australia before accepting guests.
And while flights overseas are yet to be approved, MSC and Costa are restarting in the Mediterranean, and Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas and Dream Cruises World Dream is sailing in Singapore.
Here is a list of when all of the ocean cruise lines are set to start.
Norwegian Cruise Line
NCL announced it would be extending its global pause of cruise voyages at the beginning of December 2020. The suspension applies to all embarkations between 1 January and 31 March 2021. The extension of the pause is in accordance with the requirements of the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a statement, NCLH said it will, “On Oct. 30, 2020, the CDC issued the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, a roadmap for the steps required for resumption of cruise voyages in the U.S. As we work through our return to service plan to meet these requirements, we will continue to partner with global and domestic authorities, including the CDC, to chart a path forward. In the meantime, our voluntary suspension of global cruise voyages currently includes all sailings through March 31, 2021. Given the fluid and evolving nature of the circumstances, we are making decisions as quickly and thoughtfully as possible, continuing to keep our guests’ and travel partners’ best interests at heart.”
Oceania Cruises listed 30 departures across five ships that are impacted by the cruise pause. Below are voyages that are affected.
Oceania Cruises said: “To make up for the inconvenience of this suspension, guests who are currently booked on voyage departures noted above that are paid in full with cash funds (credit card, check, bank wire) will automatically receive a Future Cruise Credit worth 125% of the cruise fare paid.
“At Oceania Cruises, the health, safety and well-being of our guests, crew and the communities we visit have always been and remain our highest priority. Given the continued global efforts to combat the spread of the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, we are extending our suspension of voyages to include all voyage departures from 1st January 2021 through 31st March 2021 plus select April voyage departures,” said an Oceania spokesperson.
- Regatta – 16 February, 5 March, 15 March, 25 March and 4 April
- Nautica –2 February, 4 March and 18 March
- Marina –28 January, 17 February, 9 March, 19 March and 9 April
- Riviera –27 January, 6 February, 16 February, 26 February, 10 March and 20 March
- Sirena –20 January, 4 February, 28 February and 10 March
Regent Seven Seas
Guests who have bookings with luxury line Regent Seven Seas have been asked to contact their travel agents or the cruise line about cancelled voyages. The line plans to recommence operations on voyages embarking after 12 April 2021.
The line has extended its Regent Reassurance policy to include all reservations made by 31 January 2020.
On Regent Seven Seas Cruises voyages embarking through 31 October 2021, guests who have paid in full have the option to cancel up to 15 days* prior to departure date and receive a 100 per cent Future Cruise Credit, which can be applied to any new reservation within one year on any Regent voyage sailing before 31 December 2022.
“The safety, security and well-being of our guests, crew and communities we visit has always been and remains our highest priority. We are closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 global pandemic and its significant impact on communities and ports worldwide. We have extended our voluntary suspension of global cruise voyages as we work through our return to service plan to meet the requirements of the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The suspension now includes all Regent Seven Seas Cruises voyages embarking between January 1 through March 31, 2021 aboard Seven Seas Splendor™, Seven Seas Explorer®, Seven Seas Voyager® and Seven Seas Navigator®. This is in addition to all voyages embarking through April 30, 2021 aboard Seven Seas Mariner®. We will continue to work in tandem with global government and public health authorities and our Healthy Sail Panel expert advisors to take all necessary measures to protect guests, crew and the communities visited,” said a Regent Seven Seas spokesperson.
“We understand the inconvenience and frustration that this disruption may cause our loyal guests and valued travel partners during these evolving, unprecedented and challenging times. We appreciate their continued understanding as we partner with local, state, federal and global agencies to do our part to combat the spread of the virus.
“Guests who are currently booked on cancelled voyages are asked to contact their travel advisor or Regent Seven Seas Cruises for more information.”
Princess Cruises announced earlier it would be extending its cruise pause until 14 May 2021 for itineraries sailing out of the U.S. There is also a temporary seven-day cap on itineraries that call at U.S. ports.
The cruise operations impacted include the following:
- All cruises sailing through 14 May 2021
- All cruises longer than seven days sailing in and out of United States ports through 1 November 2021
Additionally, due to the uncertainty about when international travel restrictions might be lifted, Princess Cruises is extending its pause in operations for cruises departing in and out of Japan through 25 June 2021.
Guests currently booked on these cancelled voyages will have the option to receive a refundable Future Cruise Credit (FCC) equivalent to 100% of the cruise fare paid plus an additional non-refundable bonus FCC equal to 25% of the cruise fare paid.
Carnival Cruise Line
Australian-based Carnival Cruise Line announced it would be cancelling Carnival Splendor sailings through to and including 19 April 2021 and voyages on Carnival Spirit sailings through to and including 12 June 2021.
For those booked on sailings of six nights or more, Carnival are offering 100 per cent Future Cruise Credits as well as $900 onboard credit per stateroom if you book before 30 September 2021 for sailings by 30 April 2023.
For those booked on sailings of five nights or less, you are eligible to get a 100 per cent Future Cruise Credit as well as $450 onboard credit per stateroom if you book before 30 September 2021 for sailings by 30 April 2023.
Alternatively, you can opt for 100 per cent refund.
P&O Cruises Australia
Another Aussie based fleet, P&O Cruises Australia will not resume cruising in New Zealand until July 2022. The line which had ships based in Auckland will return for a dedicated 150-day season next year.
In Australia, Pacific Adventure is currently scheduled to begin sailing from Sydney on 30 April 2021 while Pacific Encounter is due to call Brisbane home from 7 May 2021 – although additional voyages may be added earlier, depending on the timing of the return of cruising in Australia.
Holland America Line
Holland America Line has extended its cruise pause until 20 April 2021 which includes Alaska, Mexican Rivera, Pacific Coast, Caribbean, Mediterranean as well as Canada/New England departures.
Cruises impacted by this pause in operation are:
All cruise departures through April 30, 2021.
- Alaska: Eurodamand Oosterdam through the first week of June (roundtrip from Seattle); Koningsdam through mid-May (roundtrip from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada); Nieuw Amsterdam and Noordam through mid-May (roundtrip Vancouver and between Vancouver and Whittier, Alaska); and Zuiderdam though early June (roundtrip from Vancouver).
- Mediterranean: Volendam cruises through early June (between Venice and Civitavecchia [Rome], Italy); Westerdam though early June (roundtrip from Venice or between Venice and Piraeus [Athens], Greece).
- Canada/New England: All Zaandam cruises through August (between Boston, Massachusetts, and Montreal, Quebec, Canada).
In December, Cunard updated its policy and has temporarily stopped selling cruises eight days and longer which call at a U.S. port that depart between 1 January and 1 November 2021.
Cunard has further extended its pause in operations to departures up to and including 28 May 2021 for Queen Mary 2 and up to and including 4 June 2021 for Queen Elizabeth. Queen Victoria’s programme remains unaffected and she is scheduled to resume sailings on 17 May 2021.
Luxury line Seabourn announced in November last year it would be cancelling sailings until November 2021.
The cancellation announcement applies to select itineraries on Seabourn Odyssey and Seabourn Quest. Specific details are as follows:
- Seabourn Odyssey:with select voyages cancelled from January 16, 2021 – November 5, 2021. Seven-day Alaska/British Columbia and the Pacific Coast sailings have not been cancelled.
- Seabourn Quest:with voyages longer than 7 days and calling on a U.S. port cancelled from July 22, 2021 – November 6, 2021.
“We’re fully committed to meeting the requirements necessary to bring guests back to our ships, including those issued by the CDC,” said Josh Leibowitz, president of Seabourn. “Our team is grateful for the continued support we are seeing from guests, the travel advisor community, our partners and everyone with an interest in the hundreds of destinations we visit. Stay tuned for releases of alternative voyage options in the months ahead as conditions permit.”
Guests with impacted cruises will automatically be cancelled and all guests will receive Bonus Future Cruise Credits. They can also request a full refund of monies paid to Seabourn.
This week, Royal Caribbean announced it would be extending its cruise pause until May. In a statement on their website, it says, “After further consulting with our partners at Cruise Lines International Association and in conjunction with the CDC, we have decided to extend the suspension of sailings for our global fleet for all sailings through April 30th, 2021 – excluding sailings onboard Quantum of the Seas in Singapore and Spectrum of the Seas in China. Our plan is to resume further operation in May.”
With its sister brand, Celebrity Cruises also announced it would be extending its cruise pause. The line is extending the suspension of all sailings departing between 1 March and 30 April 2021 along with the Apex Transatlantic sailing of 5/1/21 and the 2021 Europe Season for Edge and Constellation’s sailings departing May – October 2021
Azamara has taken the decision to extend the suspension of global operations for all sailings departing on or before April 30, 2021. The ships will be back in operation as per below. All voyages prior to these dates are cancelled.
- Azamara Quest: May 1, 2021.
Azamara Quest will now start the Europe season with her originally scheduled 14-night Black Sea sailing roundtrip from Piraeus, (Athens), Greece.
- Azamara Journey: May 1, 2021.
Azamara Journey will now start the Europe season with her originally scheduled 6-night Amalfi & Adriatic Wonders voyage from Civitavecchia, (Rome), Italy to Venice, Italy.
- Azamara Pursuit: May 9, 2021.
Azamara Pursuit will continue to start the Europe season with a series of new Greece Intensive voyages sailing roundtrip from Athens (Piraeus), Greece.
Silversea, the luxury brand under the Royal Caribbean Group has also extended its pause and will resume its operations depending on the ship.
- Silver Cloudwill set sail on May 5, 2021
- Silver Windwill welcome guests once more from November 20, 2021
- Silver Shadowwill commence service once again from April 28, 2021
- Silver Spiritwill set sail on April 20, 2021
- From May 20, 2021, Silver Musewill resume sailing
- Silver Whisperwill commence service once again from June 20, 2021
- Guests will cruise on Silver Exploreragain from May 28, 2021
- Silver Moonwill set sail on April 1, 2021
- Silver Dawnwill commence service from November 9, 2021
- From April 3, 2021, Silver Originwill resume sailing
Booked guests on cancelled voyages will receive up to 110% cruise fare refund in the form of a Future Cruise Credit (FCC), which can be applied on any future cruise commencing no later than one year after the expiry date and it’s valid two years from issuance. This is an incredible value to enhance the future cruise by choosing a longer itinerary or upgrading the stateroom category.
Future Cruise Credits are transferable to family and friends and can be used partially and applied on more than one new booking.
One of the first off, the blocks, MSC Cruises resumed sailing over the European summer. But with the worsening situation in Europe, the cruise line temporarily paused the operation of MSC Grandiosa from 20 December and are looking to restart the MSC Magnifica on 14 February 2020.
At this present time and until further notice, MSC will only welcome guests who are residents in Schengen countries (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland).
Luxury expedition line Ponant has ceased sailing in northern Europe until next year. Ponant has been sailing since July with over 60 sailings from France, Iceland, Croatia and Norway on four ships.
All guests and crew members must have a signed doctor’s medical form, complete a health questionnaire and undergo a health check and screening by the ship’s medical staff. Restaurant layouts have been changed and offer only contactless dining options and occupancy of amenities like theatres are capped at 50 per cent.
Ponant will resume cruising in New Zealand in February for only Kiwi residents.
The bespoke small ship company which is based in Tahiti announced this week it would suspend cruise departures up to April 7 2021.
Guests entering French Polynesia must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test carried out within three days prior to international air departure. The results of this test must be negative and the medical document confirming this, issued by a doctor, hospital or medical clinic must be presented to airline staff upon check-in prior to boarding the flight to French Polynesia.
Dream Cruises paused its operations in February 2020 but resumed its sailings in July in Taiwan and November 2020 in Singapore.
The luxury cruise line which is owned by Genting Cruise Line hopes to resume its cruise operations in May.
- Crystal Esprit is expected to start 2 May 2021
- Crystal Serenity is expected to start 24 May 2021
- Crystal Symphony is expected to start 1 May 2021
Hurtigruten’s Original Coastal Voyage has continued sailing throughout 2020, continuing over 127 years of service along the Norwegian coast.
Five ships are currently sailing this route offering domestic tourists full coastal sailing services.
The Original Coastal voyages will continue throughout 2021.
Whilst voyages to Antarctica are cancelled for the current season through to March 2021, the next season 2021/22 sailings have been released, with the first Antarctica expedition cruises commencing from October 2021.
There are a number of expedition itineraries aboard MS Fram, MS Fridtjof Nansen and MS Roald Amundsen that are cancelled through May 2021. Expedition sailings aboard MS Trollfjord are cancelled entirely.
Hurtigruten is seeing bookings from Australians for the following itineraries
- Antarctica from October 2021
- South America from October 2021
- Norway Expeditions from October 2021
SeaDream Yacht Club
SeaDream restarted operations from Barbados in November but was forced to pause until the end of 2020 following a COVID outbreak onboard. The line will resume in Europe in May 2021.
The Australian tour company which has expedition and river ships has extended its cruise pause to 30 April 2021. Scenic is following the Australian Government travel restrictions on international travel, border and attraction closures.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s no-sail order applies to ships with more than 250 passengers and crew. UnCruise was exempt from this order and started sailing on a number of voyages. As the COVID situation worsened, the line suspended its season.
The cruise line expects to resume operations in April 2021.
Viking last year, extended the suspension of its ocean and river cruises until 1 February 2021.
The line has also cancelled some sailings further into 2021 because of “regional complexities.”
Viking was the first cruise line to temporarily suspend its ocean and river cruises in March at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As our chairman (Torstein Hagen) has said before, we will only sail again when it is safe for our guests, our crew and the communities we visit. It is in that spirit that we are extending our temporary fleetwide suspension of scheduled departures through January 31 2021. We are also cancelling additional sailings further into 2021 because of regional complexities,” said Michelle Black, managing director Viking Cruises in a letter to customers in Australia and New Zealand.
Sir Richard Branson’s cruise line, Virgin Voyages, was due to launch in 2020. But with the pandemic, the official launch of the line’s first ship, the Scarlett Lady appears to be sailing from May 2021.
While the cruise line has not put out an official statement on the cruise pause, on the line’s website, passengers are only able to book from May 2021.
The line’s second ship, the Valiant Lady’s Mediterranean season has been postponed until 2022.