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After a Lost Year, Cruise Lines Are Pulling Out All the Stops for 2021 — Here’s What to Expect

Here’s everything you need to know about new cruise ships and where to go, from Alaska to the Mediterranean.

We’re all anxious to get back to sea. The proof? When Royal Caribbean put out a Facebook call for volunteers to help test out the line’s stringent new COVID-19 protocols, more than 100,000 cooped-up explorers raised their digital hands. So even as cruise companies continue to cancel trips as they try to navigate the pandemic, consumers, it seems, can’t wait to go.

“Travelers are picking up their dreams and trying to make them reality as fast as possible,” says Barbara Muckermann, chief marketing officer of Silversea Cruises.

Much remains uncertain for cruising in the coming months, but the industry has used last year’s unprecedented pause to prepare for a grand return. Here are four promising developments to watch.

New Ships Are Finally Arriving

The pandemic slowed both the delivery and the debuts of new vessels. But this April, at the very start of European yachting season, the first ship from the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, the 298-passenger Evrima, is scheduled to make its long-awaited first trip. Regent’s Seven Seas Splendor will also sail the Mediterranean this year.

Guests will get to enjoy Virgin Voyages’ new 2,770-passenger, adults-only Scarlet Lady — and its sister ship, Valiant Lady, due later this year. Silversea has three ships slated to make their inaugural trips in 2021.

The new expedition line Atlas Ocean Voyages plans to launch its first ship, the 196-passenger World Navigator, with all-inclusive fares that cover even emergency medical-evacuation insurance. Celebrity Cruises will unveil the 2,918-passenger Celebrity Apex — a sister to the well-regarded Celebrity Edge — along with new all-inclusive pricing across the fleet. And Carnival Cruise Lines will make a splash with its 5,282-passenger Mardi Gras, complete with an onboard roller coaster, a first for the industry. The Mardi Gras will also be Carnival Corporation’s fourth ship to run on cleaner-burning liquefied natural gas.

Alaska Bounces Back

Around 1.3 million cruisers had to cancel their plans to visit the state in 2020. For those who want to try again this year, there are new options: Lindblad Expeditions plans to send five ships to Alaska in 2021. Itineraries will include September sailings that will spend four days in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, the habitat of the elusive white spirit bear.