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Royal Caribbean announces it will restart cruises from the U.S. in July

04 Jun 2021
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced on Friday cruises from the United States are coming back in July.

After 16 months of not being able to sail, Royal Caribbean announced it will restart cruises from the United States with select cruise ships in July.

Royal Caribbean will begin with the July 2 sailing from Miami on Freedom of the Seas for a short cruise to the Bahama, just in time for the Fourth of July. 

By the end of August, 12 Royal Caribbean ships will be cruising once again across The Bahamas, Caribbean, Alaska and Europe.

Royal Caribbean said their approach to restart "will remain very deliberate and methodical."

Their roll-out plan will span across the "next several months". 

No doubt today's announcement raises a lot of questions, and Royal Caribbean says a subsequent communication detailing the protocols and boarding requirements passengers can expect for U.S. based ships will be shared at a later date.

The cruise line said it has received guidance from the Healthy Sail Panel, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Preventions (CDC), and various government and health authorities to make this happen.

Royal Caribbean has already announced plans to require the Covid-19 vaccine for all adults, and some teens.

Vacationers sailing from Seattle or The Bahamas who are 16 years of age or older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and those 12 or older as of Aug. 1.

Guests are strongly recommended to set sail fully vaccinated, if they are eligible. Those who are unvaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols, which will be announced at a later date. Other measures in place for travelers to cruise with Royal Caribbean include:

  • Vacationers sailing to Alaska who are 16 years of age or older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and those 12 or older as of Aug. 1.
  • If departing from an international port, guests must meet the travel requirements of their home country and the country of departure. The most up-to-date policies can be found online on each country’s tourism site.

The new U.S and Europe cruises extend Royal Caribbean’s previously announced plans to return to sailing, which include Adventure of the Seas departing from The Bahamas on June 12 as well as Anthem of the Seas sailing out of the U.K. and Jewel of the Seas from Cyprus in July.

Short cruises (3-5 nights)

Freedom of the Seas from Miami Florida, beginning July 2, 2021

Now open and on sale

Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida, starting August 23, 2021 

Now open and on sale

7-night Cruises

Odyssey of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, debuting July 3, 2021

Now open and on sale

Allure of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida, starting August 8, 2021

Now open and on sale

Symphony of the Seas from Miami, Florida, starting August 14, 2021

Now open and on sale

Independence of the Seas from Galveston, starting August 15, 2021

Will go on sale beginning June 8, 2021

Serenade of the Seas from Seattle, starting July 19

Now open and on sale

Ovation of the Seas from Seattle, starting Aug. 13

Now open and on sale

UPDATE: Guests booked on Independence of the Seas from Miami departing July 3 - October 23, 2021 will be moved a similar sailing on Odyssey of the Seas departing Fort Lauderdale. Should guests no longer wish to sail due to this change, refunds can be requested through June 18, 2021.

Beginning in July 2021, Navigator of the Seas cruises are being converted over to Freedom of the Seas cruises.


Harmony of the Seas from Barcelona and Rome, starting August 15, 2021

Now open and on sale

More cancellations

While Royal Caribbean is able to restart operations on 7 ships this summer, a number of other ships are now cancelled since their restart will take longer.

Cruises outside of those announced today will be cancelled through the end of August. 

  • Allure of the Seas departing Port Canaveral: July 4-August 1, 2021
  • Brilliance of the Seas  departing Tampa: July 3-August 28, 2021
  • Enchantment of the Seas  departing Baltimore: July 1-August 26, 2021
  • Explorer of the Seas  departing Galveston: July 5-Sept 22 & October 25, 2021
  • Freedom of the Seas  departing Bayonne: July 3-October 23, 2021
  • Harmony of the Seas  departing Barcelona & Rome: July 4-August 12, 2021
  • Harmony of the Seas  departing Rome: August 19 & 26, 2021
  • Liberty of the Seas  departing Galveston: July 4-August 8, 2021
  • Mariner of the Seas  departing Port Canaveral: July 2-August 20, 2021
  • Oasis of the Seas  departing Bayonne: July 2-August 29, 2021
  • Rhapsody of the Seas  departing Ravenna/Venice: July 3-November 30, 2021
  • Symphony of the Seas  departing Miami: July 3-August 7, 2021

Guests on the cancelled cruises are eligible for a full refund, 125% future cruise credit, or a modified Lift & Shift.

The modified Lift & Shift is an option where you can move your existing booking to a sailing next year on the same itinerary type], sailing length, embarkation port, stateroom category, and within 2-weeks before or after the date of your original cruise.

What about the CDC?

These plans are exciting, but Royal Caribbean's plans are indeed subject to approval by the CDC.

Royal Caribbean says they are in "continuing discussions with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and multiple state, local and port authorities in the U.S. and with various destination communities regarding the various requirements for the upcoming sailings."

The current process requires each ship to complete a simulation cruise before receiving approval to resume sailing once again from U.S. ports.

The applications for simulation cruises are under review and receiving approvals on a rolling basis. The progress made as a result of the ongoing collaboration with and support from the state, local and federal level continues to set the stage for Royal Caribbean to return to sailing this summer as planned.

The cruise line will share updates on measures with guests and travel advisors before their departure dates. 

Celebration of a return

As you might imagine, Royal Caribbean is as excited as cruise fans for the return of cruises.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley welcomed the major announcement, "This is it. Vacationers can finally plan to take their precious time off this summer and truly get away after what has been a challenging time for everyone."

"I would like to sincerely thank our guests and travel partners for their incredible patience and understanding during this very difficult period. Thanks in large part to the successful rollout of vaccines, the world of adventure is beginning to open up, and we are all excited to start delivering great vacations to our guests, who have increasingly told us they are getting vaccinated."

"As of today, 90% of all vacationers booking with Royal Caribbean are either vaccinated or planning to get vaccinated in time for their cruise."

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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