The CDC has confirmed that it will keep its no-sail order in place until Nov. 1—rebuffing the industry push to lift the order early—but cruise lines are moving ahead with new itineraries, adding to the recently announced summertime Caribbean sailings with Mediterranean cruises starting in June.

Royal Caribbean Sails from Cyprus
Royal Caribbean International will sail the Mediterranean this summer on all-new 7-night cruises departing from Limassol, Cyprus. Starting July 10, Jewel of the Seas will call Cyprus home for the first time and sail to the shores and ancient ruins in Cyprus, Greece and the Greek Isles through October. Travelers can visit a combination of culture-rich cities and tranquil islands, including Limassol, Athens, Greece and the Greek islands of Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos and Santorini.

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Jewel of the Seas will sail from Cyprus this summer. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International.)

The new 2021 summer itineraries from Cyprus will open for bookings on April 7. Sailing with vaccinated crew, the cruises—at this time—will be available to adult guests who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and those under the age of 18 with negative test results. These current health and safety measures, like others, may evolve as they are evaluated on an ongoing basis.

“I’m delighted to announce our safe and gradual return to Europe. We know how eager our guests are to enjoy a getaway this summer, and these sailings, which include a mix of fantastic destinations and must-visit islands, make for the perfect getaway,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International, in a press statement. “Cyprus is a beautiful island, and we are thankful to the Cypriot government for their support and enthusiasm in making these incredible itineraries possible.”

Travelers on board Jewel of the Seas will have the opportunity to visit preserved ancient sites, such as Kourion in Limassol and the Parthenon temple in Athens, as well as hidden coves and the beaches of Mykonos, plus sample local cuisine in the waterfront tavernas of Santorini.

Details on the health and safety measures to be implemented will be announced at a later date. However, travelers must meet the travel requirements of their home country and Cyprus. The most up-to-date policies can be found on Cyprus’ tourism website.

For more information, visit royalcaribbean.com/cruise-ships/jewel-of-the-seas.

sail the mediterranean
Celebrity Apex will sail the Med this summer.

Celebrity Sails from Athens
Celebrity Cruises announced its return to cruising in Europe, as company president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo confirmed that its brand-new Celebrity Apex, will make its world debut in Greece and will sail the Mediterranean this summer starting on June 19.

With 7-night sailings roundtrip from Athens through September 2021, Celebrity Apex will visit the Mediterranean, including Mykonos, Rhodes and Santorini, Greece; Limassol, Cyprus; and Haifa and Jerusalem, Israel. The sailings will open for booking on March 30.

Celebrity Apex will sail with all crew and guests above the age of 18 vaccinated against COVID-19, and those under the age of 18 with negative PCR test results. The announcement comes just days after Celebrity Cruises announced its Caribbean sailings with 7-night summer cruises departing from St. Maarten also beginning in June.

Celebrity Apex is such an exquisite ship and for her to finally begin sailing in the beautiful Aegean, where it all began for our fleet, and after so long away, is incredibly meaningful. I actually can’t wait to finally experience Apex and the Greek Isles this September during my rescheduled 30th wedding anniversary cruise,” said Lutoff-Perlo, in a press statement. “This is a very special homecoming for Celebrity Cruises made possible with the strong collaboration of the Greek government. I extend my enduring gratitude and wish them well as they celebrate their country’s bicentennial today.”

Celebrity Apex will sail the Mediterranean with two new itineraries:

  • Greek Islands and Cyprusguests will have the chance to visit the ancient city of Rhodes, with its classical Acropolis and medieval architecture; the beaches of Mykonos; and the island of Santorini—a World Heritage site famous for its blue and white architecture; along with the southern coast of Cyprus, a unique island influenced by both nearby neighbors, Turkey and Egypt.
  • Greek Islands and IsraelIn addition to the history and beauty of Rhodes and Santorini, this itinerary offers the growing arts scene in Haifa, with its easy access to Tel Aviv and the Jordan River; and Jerusalem.

With cruise vacations beginning and ending in Athens, guests also have time to experience this city.

A range of tours curated by Celebrity for all interests and price points will be available at every port of call, including Private Journeys and Small Group Discovery Tours for those guests preferring to explore the destinations with just members of their family or traveling companions.

And Celebrity’s Cruise with Confidence program provides flexible cancellations and best price guarantees.

Details on all health and safety measures across the entire Celebrity Cruises vacation experience can be found at celebritycruises.com/healthy-at-sea. In addition, guests must follow all Greece travel requirements, which currently include presenting a negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior to arrival in Greece. Details on the additional health and safety measures to be implemented by Celebrity Cruises will be announced at a later date. Greece, incidentally, is reopening to tourists starting May 14. As of now, the country plans to accept travelers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, can prove they have antibodies, or present a negative PCR test.

For more information, visit celebritycruises.com/cruise-ships/celebrity-apex/itineraries.

CDC No-Sail Order Remains in Place
Currently the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) is effective until Nov. 1, 2021 and will remain in effect until one of the following happens:

  • The expiration of the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ declaration that COVID-19 constitutes a public emergency.
  • The CDC Director rescinds or modifies the order based on specific public health concerns
  • The calendar marks Nov. 1, 2021

Yesterday, CLIA called on the CDC to lift the CSO and allow the planning of a phased resumption of cruise operations from U.S. ports by the beginning of July.

“Over the past eight months, a highly controlled resumption of cruising has continued in Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific—with nearly 400,000 passengers sailing to date in more than 10 major cruise markets. These voyages were successfully completed with industry-leading protocols that have effectively mitigated the spread of COVID-19. Additional sailings are planned in the Mediterranean and Caribbean later this spring and summer,” said Kelly Craighead, CLIA’s president and CEO, in a press statement.

For more cruise updates, click here. Check out Royal Caribbean’s sailing from the Bahamas this summer, too.