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Aug. 2 updates: MSC's US restart, Celestyal calls off fall/winter cruises, new Azamara routes, Viking in France

Celestyal Crystal, here, and Celestyal Olympia will complete their summer itineraries at the end of August, then Celestyal Cruises will pause until March 2022
Here's a quick read of some of today’s coronavirus-recovery cruise news and announcements, including restarts and new routes.

Meraviglia kicks off MSC's US restart

MSC Meraviglia is to embark from PortMiami today on MSC Cruises' first revenue sailing from the US in nearly 18 months, a four-night Bahamas jaunt, including a stop at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

'It has been a long road, and we are delighted to see demand continue to increase as cruisers grow eager to get back to sea,' said Rubén Rodríguez, president of MSC Cruises USA.

MSC Meraviglia will offer three- and four-night getaways, adding seven-night eastern and western Caribbean cruises starting Sept. 18.

MSC Divina will become MSC Cruises’ second ship to return to US service on Sept. 16 from Port Canaveral, with the newly delivered MSC Seashore scheduled to arrive to its Miami home on Nov, 18 following western Mediterranean sailings.

Celestyal suspends fall/winter cruises

Celestyal Cruises will complete its summer itineraries on Celestyal Olympia and Celestyal Crystal at the end of August but is dropping its fall and winter program with plans to restart in March 2022.

Celestyal typically shifts to longer-haul source markets in fall and winter for its shorter, three- and four-night itineraries. In light of the current travel restrictions and additional restrictions coming into play across most source markets that typically sail later in the season, travelers have indicated a 'clear preference to defer their cruises until 2022,' the line said.

'It became apparent to us that these core markets have become less interested in being inconvenienced by the current and ongoing travel restrictions in place, particularly for shorter trips in the fall and winter,' Celestyal Cruises CEO Chris Theophilides said.

All named and paid individual customers on sailings from September through December have the option to receive full refunds or apply their deposits to 2022 or 2023 sailings with a 20% bonus.

Azamara's new Caribbean and Canary Islands routes

Azamara opened bookings for its new winter 2021/22 itineraries. The line will return to the Caribbean, sailing round-trip Miami with six voyages of seven to 16 nights. In Europe, Azamara plans six back-to-back Canary Islands sailings, most round-trip Gran Canaria, including four Canary Islands-intensive voyages and two holiday sailings.

'We are very pleased to give our guests the destinations they are most interested in right now, giving both our North American and European guests options that are closer to home,' Azamara President Carol Cabezas said.

In the Caribbean, on board in St. Maarten, Azamara will host a complimentary Destination Celebration event featuring a children's steelpan orchestra directed by St. Maarten’s local calypso legend Isidore York.

Canary Islands highlghts include a maiden call at El Hierro, a picturesque volcanic isle and UNESCO biosphere reserve, while in Tenerife, Azamara travelers are invited to experience genuine Canarian hospitality with housewives opening their homes to share home-cooked meals. On New Year's Eve in Tenerife, there will be live music, dancing and fireworks before setting sail on New Year’s Day.

Azamara's full 2021/22 winter sailings are here

Viking restarts in France, introduces four new Seine vessels

Viking resumed river itineraries in France, with passengers embarking on the Seine and Rhône for the eight-day 'Paris & the Heart of Normandy' (round-trip Paris) and 'Lyon & Provence' (Avignon-Lyon) and the 15-day 'France’s Finest' (Paris-Avignon) itineraries. The eight-day round-trip Bordeaux voyage, 'Chateaux, Rivers and Wine,' will resume this month.

Along with restarting river operations in France, the line launched four new Viking Longships built specifically for the Seine.Hosting 168 passengers, Viking Kari, Viking Radgrid, Viking Skaga and Viking Fjorgyn tie up at Viking’s exclusive docking location in the center of Paris, a short walk from the Eiffel Tower.

There is still space available on some sailing dates in France this summer and fall.