Four major cruise lines celebrated a day early on Saturday, putting boats back in the water - two of them sailing from U.S. ports - for the first time in more than a year.
Carnival, Crystal, Royal Caribbean and Seabourn are back to doing what they do best after watching their respective ships pull away from the docks.
In Galveston, Texas, to celebrate Carnival Cruise Line's resumption of guest cruises from the U.S., Carnival President Christine Duffy, Carnival Vista Captain Andrea Catalani and local officials led a "Back to Fun" ribbon-cutting ceremony officially welcoming guests back on board.
"Seeing our guests board the ship for the first time in over 15 months was a welcome and emotional sight," Duffy said. "The excitement our guests have for Carnival cruising knows no bounds and it's great to be able to have them enjoy our unique vacation experience and of course see our amazing crew once again."
Carnival Vista is on a week-long cruise with stops in Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan), Cozumel and Belize City.
In addition to Carnival Vista's departure, Carnival Horizon begins sailing from PortMiami today, July 4, as well as Carnival Breeze from Galveston July 15. Carnival Miracle kicks off the line's Alaska season from Seattle July 27. Mardi Gras, the line's newest ship, sets sail from Port Canaveral July 31. Other ships in the Carnival fleet will begin service in August.
Carnival operates from 14 U.S. homeports - the most in cruising. Roughly half of the U.S. population is within a day's drive of a Carnival homeport.
Crystal Cruises celebrated the resumption of its ocean cruise operations as Crystal Serenity set sail from the Port of Nassau on her Luxury Bahamas Escapes, a seven-night voyage exploring the islands of The Bahamas.
Crystal Serenity will now homeport in The Bahamas through November.
After more than a year of anticipation and planning, the long-awaited return to cruising was celebrated with a Homeporting Inauguration Ceremony in Nassau by Crystal executives, Bahamian government officials and dignitaries from the Port of Nassau.
A Junkanoo parade entertained guests in a lively Bahamian tradition of music, dancing and colorful costumes at the pier. The ship received a water cannon salute as she left the harbor with the sounds of Crystal Cruises' signature sail away song "What A Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong as the musical backdrop for this milestone moment.
"We are delighted to celebrate this historic day in Nassau as Crystal Serenity resumes sailing and welcomes our guests, who we consider our Crystal Family, back on board," said Carmen Roig, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Crystal who was in The Bahamas for the festivities. "We thank the Honorable Dionisio D'Aguilar, Minister of Tourism & Aviation for The Commonwealth of The Bahamas and Director General Joy Jibrilu, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism for their partnership in helping to accomplish these special voyages and for the warm welcome Crystal has received. This is a historic moment for Crystal, our employees, and especially for our officers and crew and we are happy to be back where we belong, sailing the oceans of the world and creating experiences that become cherished lifelong memories."
In Miami, Freedom of the Seas became the first Royal Caribbean ship in the U.S. to welcome guests and the first cruise ship to do so from PortMiami.
Sailing with 93 percent of the onboard community fully vaccinated and just in time for Fourth of July weekend, Freedom set off on the first cruise of a summer-long series of three-night weekend and four-night weekday getaways to Perfect Day at CocoCay - the cruise line's top-rated private island destination - and Nassau, The Bahamas.
"We have a lot to celebrate. Families and loved ones can finally come together after more than a year apart, and we're now welcoming them back on board to make up for that lost time," said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "For a moment as meaningful as Fourth of July weekend, it couldn't be more appropriate that Freedom of the Seas be the first ship to ring in our return to cruising in the U.S. and delivering the memorable and safe vacations Royal Caribbean is known for. Summer family vacations are back, and we are just getting started."
Seabourn resumed operations Saturday and welcomed guests back on board Seabourn Ovation, which departed on a seven-day voyage from Piraeus (Athens), Greece. The ship will sail a series of seven-day voyages visiting ports throughout the Greek Isles through October 2021.
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