Greece's Tourism Minister recently announced people who are vaccinated, have antibodies, or test negative can travel to Greece starting this summer, and travelers with Mediterranean dreams are rejoicing! Greece is prioritizing vaccinations for its vitally important hospitality industry, with frequent employee testing. As you consider when to plan your trip to Greece, cruising its spectacular islands is a beautifully relaxing option. I hope you enjoy this list of 22 more reasons to set sail this year!
The article below was written by the lovely editors at Virtuoso and published on February 1, 2021. Click here to view article online.
With vaccines rolling out and governments around the globe easing their no-sail restrictions (including the CDC in the U.S.), the world is getting ready to cruise again. It’s still too soon to say exactly when we’ll be setting sail – most lines have cancelled voyages through April or May – but as we learn more about cruise lines’ extensive slate of new health and safety protocols, we’re optimistic about the near future. “Everyone will very quickly see that these new protocols are remarkably effective,” said Richard Fain, the CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, in a recent conversation with Virtuoso travel advisors. “We’re doing a lot of work.”
Cruise lines have also been using this pause to dream up new itineraries, introduce innovative onboard features, and get long-awaited ships ready for their maiden voyages. With cruise bookings in demand – and the high likelihood that ships will resume sailing at limited capacities for a while – Virtuoso advisors recommend acting sooner rather than later to guarantee the sailing and stateroom you want. (Don’t worry: Flexible booking policies are making it easy to postpone future sailings if need be.) Here’s what to expect from Virtuoso Cruise special partners in the coming months.
New Ocean Liners
Princess Cruises’ Enchanted Princess is set to debut in May on a series of Mediterranean voyages. At more than 1,000 square feet each, the private balconies on the ship’s Sky Suites will officially be the largest at sea. Royal Caribbean’s new Odyssey of the Seas will call on the Western Caribbean in November and December, with six-night roundtrip sailings from Ft. Lauderdale that include stops in the Bahamas, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands. Viking Cruises’ Viking Venus is scheduled to embark on its first sailing May 3 with a 15-day Bergen-to-Stockholm itinerary. The new ship will also sail a variety of Mediterranean itineraries this year. Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages will finally get its party started later this year, when the Scarlet Lady sails from Miami to destinations including Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, the Dominican Republic, and Key West. Itineraries include a visit to the Virgin-owned Beach Club at Bimini, in the Bahamas, for beach parties and bonfires under the stars.
New Expedition Ships
In December, Seabourn’s 264-passenger Seabourn Venture will make its maiden voyage along the Norwegian coast. The ship, designed by longtime Seabourn collaborator Adam D. Tihany, is the ultraluxe line’s first purpose-built expedition vessel. Cruisers can expect staterooms with private verandas, a holistic spa, and a pair of submarines for memorable underwater excursions. French line Ponant is set to introduce cruisers to its first electric-hybrid expedition vessel, the 270-passenger Commandment Charcot, in June during a 15-day inaugural sailing between Iceland and Greenland.
New River Ships
American Queen Steamboat Company’s new paddle-wheeler, the American Countess, will debut on the Mississippi River later this spring. (The Countess will also sail Ohio and Tennessee river itineraries.) Viking River Cruises has a big year planned: They’ll launch the 80-passenger Viking Saigon on the Mekong River, the 82-passenger Viking Osiris on the Nile, and four new Viking Seine ships in France. Also in Egypt – a country that’s well worth exploring from city to river to sea – AmaWaterways’ new 68-passenger AmaDahlia will ply the Nile in style. On land, guests will explore alongside esteemed Egyptologists. Onboard, they can gaze at the Nile from the sun-deck pool, or revive tired muscles between temple visits with a massage in one of two dedicated treatment rooms.
The pandemic delayed The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s 2020 launch, but the line is ready to introduce cruisers to the 298-passenger Evrima with its July 24 maiden voyage, a seven-night sailing from Venice to Athens. We’re excited for S.E.A., the ship’s onboard restaurant helmed by chef Sven Elverfeld of the three-Michelin-starred Aqua in Germany. Late last year, three Windstar Cruises yachts – the Star Breeze, Star Legend, and Star Pride – were cut in half and lengthened as part of the line’s $250 million fleetwide refurbishment. They’ll be back in action in 2021.
For travelers ready to sail now, or those who want to snag tickets for a future trip, several options await.
We recommend planning ahead for this one: Expedition line Hurtigruten will bring its ships to the Last Frontier for the first time in 2022. An 18-day, round-trip-from-Vancouver, B.C. Inside Passage sailing on the 530-passenger Roald Amundsen includes stops in ten Alaskan ports, plus plenty of glacier encounters and wildlife-viewing opps.
This year, Celebrity Cruises' 2,852-passenger Celebrity Eclipse will sail from Sydney for the first time. Itineraries originating from the city will include highlights of Australia (the Great Barrier Reef) and New Zealand (Milford Sound), plus islands in the South Pacific – dreamy Fiji among them.
From August through September, travelers who want to explore the big city – and then leave it all behind – can do just that on Norwegian Cruise Line's seven-day roundtrip sailings from New York City aboard the 3,963-passenger Norwegian Breakaway. From the Big Apple, the ship will sail to Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine, then on to peaceful ports in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia before heading home.
As part of a repositioning journey from Asia to the Mediterranean in 2022, Star Clippers’ 227-passenger Star Clipper will embark on a one-time, 11-day Suez Canal voyage in April 2022. After departing from Safaga, Egypt, and transiting the canal, passengers will call on Port Said and Alexandria, Egypt, and visit four Greek isles before arriving in Athens.
This year, Uniworld will debut new cruise-and-rail itineraries in Europe. The 12- and 14-day journeys will take passengers to Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, and Slovenia, including travel along the Po River, overland, and through Alpine villages and countryside aboard the luxe Golden Eagle Danube Express.
Silversea Cruises plans to launch 157 new itineraries over the next two years, including new maiden calls in the Galápagos Islands on the 100-passenger Silver Origin, a ship built exclusively for use in this pristine South American archipelago. Cruisers will be able to search for iguanas on Santa Fe island and snorkel with green sea turtles off the coast of Isabela and Fernandina islands.
Sign us up for Azamara’s new deep-dive Greece voyages, please. Launching in May, the eight-day, round-trip-from-Athens sailings on the 702-passenger Azamara Pursuit include stops in five Greek ports, including iconic favorites Santorini and Mykonos, plus less-trafficked Patmos, Rhodes, and Heraklion.
In 2022, Cunard Line guests can climb aboard the 2,081-passenger Queen Elizabeth in Tokyo for a spectacular 38-night journey around Japan, across the Pacific Ocean, and on to Alaska and Vancouver. Along the way, Queen Elizabeth will make a stop in Busan, South Korea, and give passengers a thrill when she crosses the International Date Line.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 750-passenger Seven Seas Splendor will be the very first cruise ship to call on Liepaja, Latvia, during a 13-day Stockholm-to-London voyage in September. Passengers will have a day for disembarking to exploring the Baltic resort town, which is best known for its welcoming beaches and art nouveau architecture.
Lofoten Islands, Norway
Oceania Cruises will call on Norway’s Arctic wonders for the first time during a 32-day, Reykjavik-to-London sailing on the 684-passenger Sirena in August 2022. Beyond a full day in Lofoten, other itinerary highlights include three port calls in Greenland, a stop in the Russian Arctic, and a day in Denmark’s Faroe Islands.
After positive feedback about its customizable shore excursions in Europe – which let cruisers choose between active, immersive, or classic activities in every port – Avalon Waterways is adding more options for 2021. During a stop in Rotterdam on a nine-day Holland and Belgium sailing, for example, passengers can choose between an architecture-themed bike tour, a hands-on pottery workshop, or an all-encompassing sightseeing tour that hits all of the must-sees.
Holland America Line will close out 2021 with a 22-day Buenos Aires-to-Santiago sailing aboard the 1,964-passenger Westerdam. The ship will round the tip of America, cross the Drake Passage, and afford passengers up-close views of Antarctica's scenery and wildlife before continuing north along Chile's wild coast.
Throughout the summer, Paul Gaugin Cruises will take passengers on a tropical tour of Tahiti and the Society Islands during its seven-night sailings aboard the 332-passenger Paul Gaugin, roundtrip from Papeete. Sights will include the beaches and lagoons of Bora Bora, the lush mountain peaks of Moorea, and other iconic tropical spots.
I design journeys that inspire by highlighting local arts and culture, history, and cuisine for intellectually curious clients longing to feel deeply inspired by exciting destinations, culinary delights, and authentic cultural experiences on a life-changing, joyful journey of discovery.
Founder & President