Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) and other cruise operators recently announced their first Greece cruises after the pandemic-ravaged past year, beginning in July of 2021.
All the companies says they expect a phased-in approach to restarting cruises, while taking into account the public health environment, global travel restrictions and port availability, among other considerations.
Greece is Norwegian Cruise Lines’ top European destination
Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) also stated as part of the announcement that all its initial voyages will operate with what is calls a “robust, multi-Layered SailSAFE health and safety program. This will include mandatory vaccinations for all guests and crew and universal COVID-19 testing as well.
The line will offer 7-day trips around the Greek Isles, leaving from Athens, starting in late July and sailings from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic on two other ships starting in August.
CEO Harry Sommer said Greece is the cruise line’s top European destination and he expects the Greek government to allow Americans to travel to the country as soon as May or June.
The cruise company, which operates the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, stated they had a two-pronged plan for the long-awaited return to cruising this summer.
“Norwegian Jade” will sail out of Piraeus July 25
As part of the phased return to cruising, Norwegian Cruise Lines will initially offer seven-day cruises to the Greek Isles on “Norwegian Jade” from Athens (Piraeus), Greece beginning July 25, 2021.
To provide a uniquely safe and healthy vacation experience, the NCL states, all initial voyages will operate with fully-vaccinated guests and crew in addition to the measures as outlined in its SailSAFE™ health and safety program, which includes universal COVID-19 testing prior to embarkation.
“We are excited to unveil our initial plans for the resumption of cruise voyages embarking outside of the U.S. with sailings to the Caribbean and Europe,” the company said in its statement.
As NCL makes its final preparations to welcome guests on board after this long year of pandemic restrictions, guests have the opportunity to follow along with its new docuseries, EMBARK – The Series, premiering April 15, which will also be streamed on Facebook.
Greece marks May 14 as official opening of 2021 tourism season
Greece is still pinning its hopes on a May 14 opening for its long-awaited tourism season, according to Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis.
Restoring cruises to Greek ports topped the agenda of a recent teleconference between Theoharis and the Cruise Lines International Association, with the Greek minister underscoring the careful steps being taken to restart it once conditions make that a possibility.
“Cruises, as one of the main forms of tourism for our country, are very important for the Greek economy,” Theoharis stated. “Therefore, it is necessary to maximize cooperation and efforts in order for cruise to resume safely as soon as possible.”
Extension of cruising season, Greek products on sale aboard ships proposed
Cruise companies and operators participating in the teleconference included Carnival Group, Celebrity Cruises/Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, and many other lines.
Theoharis mentioned other alternative ways in which to promote Greece at the teleconference, including the promotion of Greek products on board the giant passenger vessels.
“In this way, the ‘Greek experience’ will be heightened on each cruise ship,” he noted. The possible extension of the tourism season past the “shoulder season” to the very end of the calendar year was also raised by the Minister.
Five cruise companies to use Greece home ports this summer
The CLIA’s Maria Deligianni, its representative for the Eastern Mediterranean, said during the conference ‘The cruise industry has worked diligently to introduce improved protocols to protect passengers, crew and local communities. Greece is an important cruise destination and we look forward to proceeding with its safe resumption in cooperation with the competent authorities.”
At least five cruise companies plan to make Greece their home ports this summer, while twelve indicate that they wanted to resume cruising to Greek island destinations.
Celebrity Cruises disclosed its plans for homeporting its vessel “Celebrity Apex,” in Greece starting in June, while Royal Caribbean International’s “Jewel of the Seas” will cruise to the islands of Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos and Santorini on weekly, starting out from Cyprus, beginning in mid-July.
Carnival and Norwegian may establish home ports in Greece
Reports say that cruise giants Carnival and Norwegian are also firming up their plans to homeport vessels in Greece, while Greece-based Celestyal Cruises already announced it will depart from Piraeus on May 29.
Seabourn has became the latest US-based cruise operator to announce its plans for resuming operations outside the US, for vaccinated passengers, starting July 3.
Weeklong Greek Isles round-trip cruises will begin out of the port of Piraeus on July 3 aboard the “Seabourn Ovation.” It will son be possible to book 14-day voyages that combine seven-day cruises with a variety of different ports featured as part of each trip.
The Seabourn Ovation will also be visiting Agios Nikolaos, Rhodes, Mykonos and Nafplion as well as Limassol, Cyprus, as part of one of its itineraries. The ship will also call at Patmos, Rhodes, Thira and Spetsai and at Paphos, Cyprus, as part of another cruise.
Seabourn President Josh Leibowitz said “We’re grateful to the people of Greece for welcoming Seabourn back to the Mediterranean this summer.”
Seabourn has three-decade-long relationship offering Greece Cruises
Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis noted the line has been visiting Greece for more than thirty years.
“Tourism is a vital part of our economy, and our plans place a priority on health and safety to help restore traveler confidence to all,” he stated in his remarks welcoming the cruise line back to operations after the year of the pandemic.
The cruises are open to travelers who have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days before the date of sailing. All approved forms of documentation will be confirmed closer to the time of departure, according to Seabourn, and must be shown at the terminal prior to embarkation.
A range of other measures will also be in place to assure safe travel on Seabourn’s vessels as part of their “Travel Safe” program, including health screening questionnaires, mask requirements, social distancing and capacity controls for indoor venues. The cruise line also stated it is undertaking enhanced environmental sanitation and HVAC upgrades to all its vessels.