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Are Cruises About to Resume?

When will the Great Cruise Shutdown end? That’s the question cruise fans in North America have been asking for months as they await the day when they can get back on the high seas. While we have seen a few cruise ships resume operations in Europe and other destinations around the world since last summer, most of these vessels remain off-limits to Americans.

And right now, cruising is almost completely shut down in North America. The only cruise ships that have resumed sailing this year in U.S. waters are very small vessels that sail on U.S. rivers and intracoastal waterways.

Still, the good news for cruise fans is that several major lines — including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Crystal Cruises — finally have announced definitive plans to restart North American cruising in June or July. In each case, they have found ports outside of the U.S., such as Nassau in the Bahamas, that they can use as a base for their ships.

The lines have had to find new home ports for North American sailings because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently is blocking cruise operators from sailing from U.S. ports — something that is now the subject of a lawsuit by the state of Florida.

But even if the CDC reverses its ban on cruises, cruising in North America isn’t expected to come back in a significant way for several months. As of right now, most cruise lines have canceled all or most sailings in North America through at least the end of June, and some lines have canceled at least some departures in North America even further into the year.

The only exceptions are some small-vessel lines such as American Queen Steamboat Company, American Cruise Lines, Alaskan Dream Cruises and UnCruise Adventures that operate vessels on U.S. rivers and in U.S. coastal areas.

For the most part, cruise lines also have canceled most sailings in other parts of the world until early June, though as mentioned above, a few ships have restarted service in Europe and other regions. Cruising also is about to ramp up in the United Kingdom, with more than half a dozen lines planning U.K.-focused cruises for U.K. residents only starting between late May and July.

In a few cases, on specific ships, voyages have been canceled as far out as early 2022. One small line that specializes in cruises to Canada, Adventure Canada, has canceled all its Canada sailings until the spring of 2022. The cancellations came after Canada announced it wouldn't allow cruise ships to dock in Canada at all this year.

As a Virtuoso affiliated travel advisor, I am getting updates every few days and can give you specific information on when your favorite cruise will re-start operations. If you have any questions about any cruise related topic, please feel free to reach out.

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