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Cruise lines are heading back to the waters from Iceland to France, to Miami, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and Malta. As restrictions begin to lift for the cruise industry, new intineraries are ready to be booked for PONANT, MSC Cruises, and Viking.

PONANT Resumes Operations

PONANT resumed operations on June 16, 2021, with more than 50 departures setting sail to Iceland, the Mediterranean, and France this summer. Highlights include a new partnership with the Louvre, new itineraries and ports of call, and a stop at the brand’s namesake islands, Ponant Islands.

The cruise line offers over 30 sailings in the Mediterranean between June and November 2021. And, a new partnership with the Louvre will bring Paris to the sea with a sailing to discover the ancient sites of Greece and Istanbul during The Cyclades and Ancient Treasures sailing on July 13-20, 2021. There will be visits to numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites including the Acropolis in Athens and the Mycenae ruins from 1200 BC. Onboard programming will be designed with curators and department directors from the Louvre for guests to discover the ancient lands that have inspired the museum’s collections. In addition, a new 13-day sailing, Iconic Treasures of the Adriatic, will also depart from Athens on August 21 exploring the coasts of Greece, Montenegro, Croatia, and Italy. Highlights will include the Bay of Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; a new port of call in Primosten, a small medieval fishing village home to one of the biggest statues of the Virgin Mary in the world; and the mountain island of Korcula and its medieval city, where Marco Polo was born.

Two PONANT EXPLORER ships—Le Dumont-D’Urville and Le Champlain—will be exploring Iceland’s diverse landscapes this summer through September 2021. The 8-day Icelandic Mosaic itinerary explores the western coast of the country with five ports of call, including Grimsey, the northernmost island, as well as Heimaey, the only inhabited island in the Westman archipelago. During the sailing, passengers will also witness wildlife of humpback whales, Atlantic puffins, Arctic terns, and Icelandic horses. Extend the journey with an optional post-cruise excursion to witness The Golden Circle, the 190-mile driving loop from Reykjavik to the UNESCO World Heritage site Thingvellir National Park; the Geysir geothermal area, believed to have started erupting over 700 years ago; and the Gullfoss, or Golden, Waterfall.

PONANT is offering 15 sailings along the French coastline this summer. Le Bellot, the fifth installment in the PONANT EXPLORER series, will sail roundtrip from Saint-Malo on 8-day itineraries exploring the Breton Coast.  Highlights include the brand’s namesake islands, Ponant Islands, and a stop at the island of Houat, home to less than 200 inhabitants all year round. Other sailings include circumnavigating the island of Corsica with stops in the seaside resort of Saint-Laurent, as well as Roccapina Beach.

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Views of MSC Divina at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. (Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises.)

MSC Cruises Opens Summer 2021 Sailings for Sale

MSC Cruises officially opened its U.S. summer 2021 cruises for sale aboard MSC Meraviglia and MSC Divinawith 3-, 4- and 7-night itineraries available from Miami and Orlando (Port Canaveral), starting this summer.

“It’s time to cruise again, and we are incredibly excited to open our U.S. summer 2021 cruises for booking and take a step closer toward bringing our guests back on board our ships in the U.S. this summer,” said Ruben Rodriguez, president of MSC Cruises USA, in a press statement. “Looking ahead, our guests have so much to look forward to, with a choice of quick getaways or week-long vacations from Miami or our brand-new home port in Port Canaveral, all visiting our new private island, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. And, later this year, guests will love our newest ship to hit U.S. waters, MSC Seashore, when she makes her Miami debut this November. Given our experience cruising in Europe since last summer, we are eager to bring our safe and enjoyable cruises back to the U.S. and remind our guests of the enriching and memorable experience MSC Cruises offers.”

MSC Meraviglia will resume cruising on Aug. 2, 2021, offering 3- and 4-night cruises visiting The Bahamas and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. Starting Sept. 18, 2021, the ship will alternate between 7-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries.

On Aug. 2, 2021, guests will be the first to sail again from the U.S. on a 4-night cruise from Miami visiting Nassau, Bahamas and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. Prices start at $509 pp for a balcony stateroom.

MSC Meraviglia’s first 7-night cruise since resuming operations, embarking from Miami and visiting Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve; Nassau, Bahamas; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve for a second visit will set sail on Sept. 18, 2021. Prices start at $649 pp for a balcony stateroom.

And, a seven-night cruise from Miami visiting Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve; Costa Maya, Mexico; Cozumel, Mexico; and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve for a second visit will sail on Sept. 25, 2021. Prices start at $639 pp for a balcony stateroom.

As the second ship to restart in the U.S., MSC Divina will resume cruising a range of 3-, 4- and 7-night itineraries to The Bahamas and Caribbean, embarking from MSC Cruises’ newest U.S. home port, Orlando (Port Canaveral).

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Viking Announces “Welcome Back” Voyages

Viking Venus and Viking Sea in Malta. (Photo courtesy of Viking.)

Viking announced new details about its upcoming Welcome Back voyages in the Mediterranean launching in July 2021. Over the summer and early fall, Viking will homeport three sister ships—the Viking Starthe Viking Sea and the Viking Venus—for three different 11-day itineraries that explore the Mediterranean, roundtrip from the Maltese capital city of Valletta, a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site. Viking also announced today that it has partnered with Lufthansa to offer non-stop flights from Newark Liberty International Airport to Malta, exclusively for Viking guests.

Viking’s announcement comes as the Maltese Government has eased rules for the arrival of international travelers, including Americans. Like many countries, Malta has developed a traffic light system for arriving travelers. As of, June 17, Malta has added most U.S. states and territories to its “Amber List.” Travelers from the Amber List may arrive in Malta with proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test having been conducted at least 72 hours prior to arrival. Full details of Malta’s Traffic Light System for travelers can be found on Visit Malta’s website here. As part of the new CDC recommendations, Malta has been ranked as “Level 1” or the lowest for risk of COVID-19.

“Now that we have successfully restarted operations, welcoming guests back on board in England and in Bermuda, we look forward to launching our new voyages from Malta. We applaud the government of Malta for being such a supportive destination partner and for making the arrival and embarkation process even easier for our guests,” said Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking, in a press statement. “With its rich history and stunning natural beauty, Malta is truly a gem in the Mediterranean that many American travelers have yet to discover. With our new Welcome Back voyages, combined with Lufthansa flights from Newark exclusively for Viking guests, there has never been a better opportunity to explore the Mediterranean from Malta.”

Earlier this week, the company welcomed its first American guests back on board in Bermuda for the first of eight sailings of Bermuda EscapeLater this month, Viking will launch Welcome Back sailings around Iceland.

There are limited dates still available in summer and early fall 2021 for Viking’s Welcome Back voyages in the Mediterranean, which include:

  • Malta & Adriatic Jewels (11 days; Valletta to Valletta; Croatia, Montenegro & Malta) – Discover Malta’s millennia of history and visit ancient UNESCO sites. Explore Croatia’s coastline and iconic cities of antiquity. Stroll the city walls of Dubrovnik and visit Diocletian’s Palace. Or immerse yourself in nature and the great outdoors during a visit to Krka National Park. Multiple sailing dates July through October 2021 are available.
  • Malta & the Western Mediterranean (11 days; Valletta to Valletta; Italy, Spain & Malta) – This 10-night roundtrip voyage from Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site takes guests to the Amalfi Coast from Naples, as well as to Pompeii, and Messina, Sicily’s cultural crossroad. Multiple sailing dates in September and October 2021.
  • Malta & Greek Isles Discovery (11 days; Valletta to Valletta; Greece & Malta) – Guests will discover the early empires of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas; visit historic UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the Maltese capital of Valletta and Rhodes’ Palace of the Grand Masters; and enjoy views of the Parthenon in Athens, and admire the white facades and azure domes of the clifftop villages of Santorini during this voyage through the centuries. Multiple sailing dates July through September 2021 are available.

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