MIAMI, FLORIDA-- Royal Caribbean International, whose corporate offices are in Miami, announced today that it will begin operating 7-night cruises from a homeport in Nassau, the Bahamas in June. Reservations will open on March 24. While the cruise line's operations are set to begin from the Port of Miami as well in June, those sailings are dependent on the final okay from the CDC and could still face delays or cancellations.
The Nassau cruises effectively skirt the CDC halt on cruises that involve U.S. ports but will employ the cruise line's own safety protocols, including mandated vaccinations. The sailings will be open to adult passengers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and children under age 18 with negative test results. All crew members will also be vaccinated.
Additional health and safety protocols onboard will be announced closer to sailing.
“We are excited to get back to delivering memorable vacations in the Caribbean, gradually and safely. The vaccines are clearly a game-changer for all of us, and with the number of vaccinations and their impact growing rapidly, we believe starting with cruises for vaccinated adult guests and crew is the right choice. As we move forward, we expect this requirement and other measures will inevitably evolve over time,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “The opportunity to homeport in The Bahamas is a testament to the tremendous partners the government and the people of the island nation have been to us for more than 50 years. We are grateful for the confidence that they have in us and our commitment to a healthy and happy return to sailing.”
The itinerary will include the line's private island, Perfect Day at Coco Cay, Grand Bahama Island, and Cozumel onboard Adventure of the Seas, which was previously scheduled for cruises from Barcelona, Spain.
The only good news for Miami tourism businesses will be an increase in travelers flying to Nassau from MIA, but many of those will be transit passengers who never leave the airport.
In addition to the cruise line's vaccination policies, travelers will also be required to meet the requirements of the Bahamas, which currently include a negative PCR test for all arrivals. Current, up-to-date policies for the island nation can be found on The Bahamas website.
Nassau will also be the home port to a ship from Crystal Cruises this summer
Crystal Serenity will begin sailing 7-night trips from Nassau in July at reduced capacity, visiting many of the smaller islands of the Bahamas, something that is not an option for the larger Royal Caribbean ship. Crystal Cruises serves a distinctly different market from RCCL, with a focus on luxury. Passengers sailing with Crystal will also be required to be fully vaccinated 14 days prior to sailing.
Bahamian officials are pleased with these arrangements
“As we anticipate a promising return to a vibrant tourism industry, news that the cruise industry is going to begin homeporting in The Bahamas is exciting. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of passengers will experience Nassau or Grand Bahama in ways they never had the opportunity to before,” said the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert A. Minnis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas. “I am especially pleased that Royal Caribbean, with whom we have had a long and mutually beneficial relationship for more than 50 years, selected The Bahamas as a homeport when sailing resumes. This is truly a new day for tourism. It should inspire many small- to medium-sized businesses, tour operators, taxi drivers, restaurants and retailers to prepare for brighter days ahead, the best we have ever had.”
“Royal Caribbean has long been a valued partner to The Bahamas, and we are thrilled to work with them on making Nassau their newest homeport,” said Minister of Tourism & Aviation, the Honorable Dionisio D’Aguilar. “Cruising is a vital part of The Bahamas’ economy and having Royal Caribbean and their guests return to our shores will contribute greatly to restoring and reactivating tourism. We have been preparing diligently for the last many months to ensure an experience that is equally safe and enjoyable. We are confident that cruise goers will receive the warm, friendly hospitality The Bahamas is famous for. We cannot wait to remind guests that it is still Better in The Bahamas.”
There is a very real possibility that these may be among the few cruises in the Caribbean to take place this summer.
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Source and image: Royal Caribbean