Norwegian Cruise Line Announces Return to Sailing with Focus on Safety and Exceptional Passenger Experience
Norwegian Cruise Line has officially announced it will be returning to cruising in Summer 2021 offering select Greek Isles and Caribbean itineraries. The line will first resume passenger operations in July on three of its vessels, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Joy, and Norwegian Gem.
Cruiseline.com had the opportunity to chat with Harry Sommer, Norwegian Cruise Line’s President and Chief Executive Officer and Katina Athanasiou, Chief Sales Officer, to discuss this exciting news, along with the planning and considerations that made this announcement possible. Norwegian’s upcoming sailings will follow parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ newly released SailSAFE Health and Safety program guidelines. This program is dependent on the following:
1) Safety for guests and crew with vaccination requirements, universal COVID-19 testing, and enhanced health screening protocols.
2) Safety aboard with medical-grade air filtration, increased sanitation measures, and enhanced medical resources.
3) Safety ashore through the collaboration with land-based tour operator partners to extend health and safety measures to each destination.
According to Norwegian, they have taken a full ‘all-in’ approach with these new measures to have guests feeling safe while they are onboard as well as confident about returning to cruising once again.
The key part of Norwegian’s return to sailing is putting passengers at the forefront of all of its plans for resuming cruising. Specifically, this includes finding ways to blend new safety measures with the true cruise experience that passengers are used to when they sail with Norwegian.
When asked whether about a potential fallout from the COVID-19 vaccine requirement, Sommer told Cruiseline.com that in the weeks leading up to this decision, a survey of past guests conducted by Norwegian indicated that over 70% of the respondents already had received at least one dose of their vaccine.
“Creating an exceptional guest experience, as well as emphasizing safety and building up confidence in cruising is of equal importance for Norwegian Cruise Line’s return to operations,” Sommer told Cruiseline.com.
Immediately at the restart, all the venues of each vessel will be in use, including all dining, entertainment, and activity facilities. Ships will sail at a passenger capacity of 60%. In discussing this number, Sommer emphasized that while the reduced capacity is a part of the overall guest safety plan, it’s also a part of ensuring an exceptional guest experience, ensuring that the onboard crew have the ability to fine-tune the experience to exceed guest’s expectations.
When asked to name what excited her most about the announcement, Athanasiou made clear she thinks that guests will love the itineraries. All newly released itineraries will be heavy port-centric voyages with few at-sea days. Guess can expect to spend between 8-11 hours at each destination. This is in part of the line’s commitment to bring back an exceptional cruise experience from the get-go, as well as inspire the excitement of cruising to guests once again.
On July 25, 2021, Norwegian Jade will be the first of the line’s 17 vessels to sail offering seven-day Greek Isles cruises from Athens. These voyages will feature a new destination for every day of the cruise and will include a minimum of eight hours for passengers to spend exploring in each port.
The line will resume operations in North America starting on August 7, 2021, with week-long Caribbean itineraries on Norwegian Joy from Montego Bay, Jamaica. The Norwegian Gem will also begin offering roundtrip week-long Caribbean cruises from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic starting August 15, 2021. Both of these itineraries include only two at-sea days, and will spend ten to eleven hours in each port of call.
Passengers looking for a behind-the-scenes look from Norweigan as they make the final preparations for a return can follow the new docuseries EMBARK – The Series. Featured topics will include all aspects of what’s going on at the line as they get ready to be back onboard with passengers. Expect to see subjects such as culinary preparations, entertainment by Norwegian’s world-class productions, and safety demonstrations. EMBARK – The Series will premiere April 15 at 8 p.m. at www.ncl.com/embark or Facebook.
Bookings for these new Greek Isles and Caribbean Summer 2021 cruises open today, April 6, 2021.