(9:15 a.m. EDT) – Norwegian Cruise Line has announced more restart dates from U.S. homeports, including Miami, New York, Los Angeles and Port Canaveral.
"With these additional itineraries, we're providing travelers with more opportunities to set sail from some of their favorite homeports and to some of their preferred destinations," said Harry Sommer, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line.
The announcement marks some redeployments. Bliss was originally supposed to lead the line's return to service in Alaska, sailing from Seattle on August 7. Instead, NCL's newest ship, Norwegian Encore, will take on those cruises.
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Norwegian Gem is also a redeployment, as the ship was originally set to sail from the Dominican Republic in August. The line canceled those international homeport sailings, as well as Norwegian Joy cruises from Montego Bay, Jamaica.
In its announcement, NCL said that all sailings before November 1 would require all passengers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as crew. The move means that the line can receive outright conditional approval from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, without having to do test cruises.
The news comes just days after Royal Caribbean also announced additional restarts from U.S. homeports, with 12 ships fully operational by the end of August, with the remainder of the fleet to re-enter service by the end of the year.
Florida Vaccine Passport Ban Still Conflicts
But with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis refusing to carve out an exemption for cruise lines from the state's vaccine passport ban, it's unclear as to how Norwegian Gem will restart from Miami in August.
When asked, NCL made the following statement:
"We are very excited to relaunch our first U.S. voyages from Miami, the Cruise Capital of the World, aboard Norwegian Gem starting Aug. 15, 2021, contingent on obtaining a Conditional Sailing Certificate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”).
"As mentioned previously, we continue to work closely with government agencies and state and local officials to resume cruising in various parts of the world, and we are hopeful we will return to all of our ports of call very soon. Of course, our number one priority is protecting the health and safety of guests, crew and the communities we visit. With vaccine mandates and strict health and safety protocols in place, including universal COVID-19 testing, we believe we can provide a uniquely safe and healthy vacation experience."
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio was the first leading cruise executive to note that DeSantis' vaccine passport ban would be a problem for the lines coming back into service. In a May earnings call, he said that the law was an issue and could result in his line pulling out of Florida.
DeSantis fired back by calling NCL "one of the smaller lines."