Waited Long Enough? It’s Time To Cruise - My Family Travels

Haven’t you waited long enough?

It’s time to cruise, whether on a bucket list trip to Alaska, the Islands of Hawaii or maybe an escape closer to home exploring the California Coast. The major cruise lines are coming back. Parents and grandparents are excited because they get a lot of activities, meals, lodging and non-stop entertainment at sea for their vacation buck. It’s often priced considerably less than many resorts charge, too.

Back deck of a cruise ship set up with tables and chairs.
The latest hygiene and social distancing protocols are in place on all the major cruise lines to ensure guests safety. Photo by neufall54 via pexels.

This fall, Holland America Line is gearing up to restart cruising out of the Port of San Diego in California. They’re beginning with a season of cruises to Mexico, Hawaii and along the California coast aboard Koningsdam and Zuiderdam. The cruise line has expanded the season with the addition of six new cruise departures for Zuiderdam and two new cruises on Koningsdam, offering a total of 40 cruises from San Diego from September 2021 through April 2022.

“San Diego has always been an incredible homeport for our ships, and we are eager to restart on the West Coast with two ships operating an expanded season, including the debut of Koningsdam on these itineraries and close-to-home California cruises that our guests are going to love,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line.

What’s New Aboard Holland America Ships

Horseback riding off Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line's private island.
Horseback riding off Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line’s private island.

With the resumption of service on the West Coast, Holland America Line also says it’s time to cruise in the Caribbean, with four ships all sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. These four to 14-day cruises commence in late October and include a call at Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line’s award-winning private island.

Dining will be available in all restaurants and specialty venues, as well as room service. Entertainment will be in full swing in the main show lounge, including live music and dancing.

Port-to-Table culinary demonstrations, EXC Talks and other programming will bring regional cultures on board through engaging activities and special presentations. Guests may choose to explore port destinations independently or on ship-sponsored tours, following the local ports’ health guidelines.  

It’s Time to Cruise Alaska with Princess

Man and woman look at an electronic board of shore excursions aboard a Princess cruise ship.
Pirncess Cruise passengers can use their OceanMedallion wearable necklace to explore onboard and shore excursion options. Photo courtesy Princess Cruises.

Later this  summer, Princess and Carnival (Carnival Miracle in July) join Holland America in sailing from Seattle to Alaska. Protocols, on-board hygiene and the breadth of activities will be based on recent public health  guidance from the CDC and close collaboration with Alaskan officials.

Picture Alaska. Get up close to glaciers and sea life. Maybe fish for salmon or halibut—at least eat some on board!

Besides Alaska this summer, eight Princess Cruise ships return to sailings from US ports  starting between Sept. 25 and Nov. 28, 2021 headed to the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexico, Hawaii and the California Coast. On board, the Princess OceanMedallion wearable device enables everything from touch-free boarding to locating your loved ones anywhere on the ship, as well as enhanced guest services.

Carnival Debuts a New Ship: Mardi Gras

The Carnival Mardi Gras is a new Carnival ship escorted into port by a tugboat.
The Carnival Mardi Gras arrives in port as the first ship to be fueled by Liquified Natural Gas. Photo courtesy of Carnival PLC.

Be among the first to cruise a brand new ship to the Eastern and Western Caribbean. Carnival Cruise Line – which carries more kids than any cruise line — has announced the Mardi Gras maiden voyage on July 31 from Port Canaveral, Florida. Talk about family-friendly – some staterooms on Mardi Gras even accommodate five people and have an extra bathroom. It’s time to cruise together!

Mardi Gras is also the first ship in the Americas powered by the more eco-friendly Liquified Natural Gas (most ships are powered by diesel.) Among a wide range of outdoor attractions, she has the fleet’s longest ropes course and largest water park. Pack extra bathing suits for the much-anticipated BOLT Ultimate Sea Coaster.

Carnival Magic is expected to cruise four- and five-day itineraries to the Bahamas and the Caribbean that were previously scheduled for Carnival Elation, effective Aug. 7 through October. Carnival Panorama will enter service from Long Beach on Aug. 21, sailing to the Mexican Riviera, among the company’s several other routes.

Will Fellow Cruisers Be Vaccinated?

“Cruising is back and having vaccinated ships for these cruises in 2021 ensures that we can deliver the experience just how our guests remember and expect,” said HAL’s Antorcha. Many cruisers agree. According to a recent survey from CruiseCritic.com, 80% would prefer to cruise on an all-vaccinated ship.

They’re in luck, because both Holland America and Princess cruises are designed for guests who have received their final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to embarkation. Since the CDC suggests parents wait until their children are vaccinated before cruising, these ships will not carry many children under age 12.

Shipboard crew vaccinations will also be in accordance with CDC guidelines. Stay in touch with your travel agent or the cruise line, as onboard protocols and vaccination requirements will be adjusted as necessary.

Aren’t You Feeling It’s Time to Cruise?

Cruise ship suite aboard a Seabourn ship
A beautiful Spa Suite stateroom from Seabourn boasts luxury amenities. Photo courtesy Seabourn.

For those who know it’s time to cruise overseas, join luxury Seabourn Cruise Line on its unique all-inclusive small ship cruises. They will be cruising in Greece and from Caribbean ports this summer. And Holland America’s Eurodam will sail in Greece and the Mediterranean this fall.

Whichever line you choose, look for value-added amenities including drink packages, free Wi-Fi,  cabin upgrades and specialty dining as well as new itineraries.

The 2021 Family Travel Forum Cruise with Kids Guide provides more detail on each of these lines — and the latest information on their children’s services as we get it — to help you plan.

Author Eileen Ogintz has traveled the world with her family for her nationally syndicated travel column, Taking The Kids. A big fan of family cruising, she has authored this post about Atlas Ocean Voyages for sponsor FamilyTravelConsulting.com.

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