The Top 10 Cruise Stories of the First Six Months of 2021

Celebrity Edge

With 2021 half over, we look back on the top 10 cruise stories of the first six months of 2021 as the industry continues a staggered return to service.

One Year Without Cruise Passengers

On Jan. 25, 2021, the first cruise ships to have their sailings cancelled completed one year without passengers. To mark the occasion, Cruise Industry News published a retrospective of the events that lead to a full cruise industry stop.

Up to 46 New Ships Entering Service

While the pandemic has closed shipyards and delayed cruise lines' plans, up to 46 ships are still scheduled to debut before December. Thirty of these were set to be delivered during the year. The other 16 are new ships that could welcome the passengers for the first time after 2020 deliveries.

Azamara Sold to Private Equity Form

In a surprising move, Royal Caribbean sold its Azamara brand to Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm specializing in consumer, retail and distribution investments. The deal was completed in March and included Azamara’s three-ship fleet.

Cruises Returning to England

In March, England announced the resumption of domestic cruising in the country starting in May. With that, several cruise lines announced plans to reenter service in the region, including MSC, Viking, P&O, Royal Caribbean and more. 

Major Cruise Lines Burning Huge Amounts of Cash

With most ships still out of service, the three major cruise companies continued to burn through cash in 2021. In May, the combined cash burn rate for Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line holdings was approximately $990 million per month.  

CDC Releases Updates for Conditional Sail Order

After much wait, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updates to its Conditional Sail Order in May and April, effectively allowing cruise ships operations to restart. Carnival was one of the first cruise lines to get the CDC approval for operations in Florida and Texas.

2021 Alaska Cruise Season Saved by Bill

On May 24, U.S. President Joe Biden signed the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act into law, temporarily allowing foreign-flagged cruise ships to sail in the region without having to dock in Canada first. The law paved the way for the majority of cruise ships to operate in Alaska this summer, with Carnival, Princess, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian and other brands announcing restart plans for the region.

Celebrity Edge Relaunches Service from U.S.

With 1,105 passengers onboard, the Celebrity Edge departed Port Everglades on June 26, marking the first revenue sailing for a large cruise ship from a U.S. port in 15 months. The Celebrity Cruises vessel was the first ship above the 250-person mark to sail, having received the green light from government authorities.

Uptick in Cruise Ship Drydocks

As the global fleet prepares to return to service, shipyards saw an uptick in cruise ship drydocks in 2021. With most of the fleet still out of commercial service, cruise operators took the opportunity to get work, as well as necessary classification society inspections, done before the actual resumption.

Norwegian Reveals New Norwegian Prima

In May, Norwegian Cruise Line revealed its new Norwegian Prima, the first in a series of six newbuilds. With a capacity for 3,215 guests, the vessel is set to debut in 2022 and features an all-new design.


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