After a year out of service, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) will finally return to the seas with fresh itineraries in Europe and the Caribbean this July 25.
Norwegian Jade, Joy and Gem will the be first ships to welcome guests once again, but with reduced capacity. Norwegian Jade will offer seven-day cruises to the Greek Isles from Athens (Piraeus) from July 25; Norwegian Joy will offer week-long Caribbean itineraries from Montego Bay, Jamaica starting August 7; and Norwegian Gem will sail from Punta Cana (La Romana), Dominican Republic beginning August 15.
NCL president and CEO Harry Sommer said the company has been “working diligently towards our resumption of operations”.
Focus has been on ensuring guest health and safety, he stated.
“The growing availability of the Covid-19 vaccine has been a game-changer. The vaccine, combined with our science-backed health and safety protocols, will help us provide our guests with what we believe will be the healthiest and safest vacation at sea,” Sommer remarked.
NCL has made it compulsory for all guests sailing aboard cruises with embarkation dates through October 31, 2021 to be fully vaccinated and tested prior to boarding.
However, Sommer noted that NCL’s health and safety protocols for cruises could change for embarkation dates beginning November 1, 2021, due to the “ever-evolving nature of the pandemic, the accelerating rollout of the vaccine, and the speed of scientific learnings”.
He emphasised that NCL’s health and safety protocols will continue to rely on science and the advise of its expert council.
On April 4, parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings launched its SailSAFE Health and Safety programme, which is founded on three pillars: Safety for guests and crew with vaccination requirements, universal Covid-19 testing and enhanced health screening protocols; Safety aboard with medical-grade air filtration, increased sanitation measures and enhanced medical resources; and Safety ashore through the collaboration with land-based tour operator partners to extend health and safety measures to each destination.
The company has also revealed its SailSAFE Global Health and Wellness Council, comprising six experts in their fields. The Council is led by Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and co-chair of the Healthy Sail Panel, which was formed to guide the cruise industry’s safe resumption of operations.
The Council’s work will complement the Healthy Sail Panel initiative and will focus on the implementation, compliance with and continuous improvement of health and safety protocols across Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings operations.
Sommer said: “Resuming operations is a comprehensive endeavour, involving many parties around the globe. We are very proud of our collaborations and look forward to deeper partnerships as we forge into the future.”
A docuseries, EMBARK – The Series, will premier on April 15 at 20.00 on the cruise line’s Facebook page and website to give guests a glimpse of the careful preparations needed ahead of NCL’s return to service.
Meanwhile, NCL has extended its temporary Peace of Mind cancellation policy to guests sailing on cruises booked by April 30, 2021 with embarkation dates through October 31, 2021. Guests have the flexibility to cancel their cruise 15 days prior to departure, and receive a full refund in the form of a future cruise credit. Guests will also only need to make final payment 60 days prior to embarkation versus the standard 120 days.