With no signs that the country’s health authorities are making efforts to revive the cruise industry, impoverished cruise lines are deciding to dock their ships in foreign ports in order to inject revenue back into the country. It’s not ideal and it won’t be as profitable as sailing from the American coast, but as the old saying goes, every port in a storm.

Last Friday, two shipping companies announced plans to base ships outside their usual home ports in Florida.

Ships at anchor in Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau Royal Caribbean Adventure

Royal Caribbean International announced Friday that it will resume sailing to the Americas in June, with Nassau, Bahamas, as its home port. All crew members and adult passengers must be able to present proof of vaccination, and persons under 18 years of age must present a negative PCR test result.

The Adventure of the Seas, with 3807 passengers, is the ship chosen for the program. It will offer seven-day trips, with several sailings including two consecutive days on a private island from Perfect Day line to CocoCay. Other stops include Grand Bahama Island and Cozumel, Mexico.

Celebrity to base ship in St. Maarten

(Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

Also on Friday, Celebrity Cruises announced that the 2,138-passenger Celebrity Millennium will leave St. John’s Harbor. St. Maarten in June. The oldest ship in Celebrity’s current fleet, the Millennium, recently underwent a multi-million dollar upgrade and refit.

All adult guests and crew members must be vaccinated. Children under 18 years of age should be able to present a negative PCR test result within 72 hours prior to implantation.

Autumn and winter in Barbados

Barbados Beach (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Previously, Royal Caribbean announced that its ship Magnificence of the Seas would call at a new port in Bridgetown, Barbados. Three different seven- and 14-night itineraries will offer a unique set of ports of call, including three new to the cruise line: Tobago, Trinidad and St. Lucia Vincent. Although Royal Caribbean has announced that all crew members must be vaccinated, no decision has yet been made regarding passengers on these voyages.

All-Bahamas Travel Crystal

A week ago, luxury cruise line Crystal Cruises announced that it would be in Nassau and Bimini in the Bahamas this summer and fall, offering a seven-day Bahamas itinerary aboard the 1,064-passenger Crystal Serenity. For health and safety reasons, the number of passengers on these routes is limited to 900. All guests, regardless of age, must be fully vaccinated.

Crystal Calm (Photo courtesy of Crystal Cruise)

All this news comes at a time when the cruise industry in the US is still waiting for guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Health Authority issued a conditional travel ban on 30. October 2020, but has yet to advise on the next steps for resumption of navigation, including trial runs and recertification of the vessel.

The cruise lines are apparently tired of waiting for the CDC to decide their fate, while they collectively continue to spend about $1 billion a month to keep their fleets ready for shipping.

Sailing from offshore ports – a logistical challenge

Sailing from offshore ports is not ideal for cruise lines. A large percentage of cruise passengers who go to Florida go to the port of origin, and it’s unclear how many of them will want to take a cruise.

In addition, Florida ports such as Port Miami, Port Canaveral and Port Everglades are specifically designed for ship arrivals and have large terminals that can handle thousands of passengers per hour. There is also a large and well-established industry involved in ship supply, waste disposal and fuel supply.

Smaller ports such as Nassau, Bridgetown and St. John’s are also important. The islands of St. Maarten have experience hosting millions of cruise tourists each year, but lack the extensive infrastructure to be ideal homeports.

While vaccination efforts in the U.S. are progressing rapidly, the process of rediscovery in the industry appears to have stalled. Cruise lines say they are in constant contact with CDC officials, but months pass with no clear indication of how to proceed. It seems they have now decided that any trip is better than none.

frequently asked questions

Will US cruises resume in 2020?

For now, the cruise line plans to begin North American cruises on the 27th. June 2020. Update 1: Cruise Line has released a new update, which we’ve detailed here. Eight cruise ships will return to sea in August, and the majority of the fleet will sail until September 2020.

Can cruise lines change the itinerary?


Will cruises be cancelled in 2021?

Cruise lines continue to cancel sailings through 2021. (Updated at 12 p.m. ET) — Faced with rising levels of COVID-19 infection around the world and unclear guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cruise ships have begun halting their sailings well into the first half of 2021.

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