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Crystal Serenity to sail all-Bahamas cruises starting July 3

Crystal Serenity's Bahamas cruises will start at $1,999
Crystal Cruises plans to restart cruising in the Americas on July 3 with all-Bahamas sailings round-trip Nassau (Saturday) or Bimini (Sunday).

The seven-night cruises will visit yachting destinations like Harbour Island, Great Exuma, Long Island and San Salvador, with 32 departures planned. 

Reduced capacity

The ship's capacity will be reduced to 900 passengers.

Travelers will have access to the Beach Club at Bimini and the opportunity to extend their trip with pre- or post-cruise hotel stays in Bimini or Nassau at properties like SLS Bahia Mar and Hilton Resorts World Bimini.

Crystal's vaccination mandate is being well-received by guests and travel partners, according to Jack Anderson, interim president. Citing pent-up demand for cruising, he expects the Bahamas cruises to sell out. 

MIlestone for Bahamas cruise tourism

The Crystal partnership — nearly a year in the works — is a 'significant milestone for cruise tourism in the Bahamas,' Bahamas Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said. 

In accord with Bahamas regulations, travelers will need to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than five days before arrival and a Bahamas health visa. Additionally, Crystal will require an antigen test at embarkation, and its shipboard Crystal Clean+ protocols will apply. 

The minister said most of the Bahamas population should be vaccinated by the time the cruises start. The first 20,000 vaccine doses arrived Wednesday.

Masking and distancing will continue to be enforced on land, D’Aguilar said.

'A win for cruising'

'Finally, we have a date to return to sailing,' said Vicky Garcia, COO and co-owner of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative. 'Kudos to Crystal for creating a luxury, close-to-home experience for our travel advisors to sell, as this type of Bahamas cruise is different for the brand ... We can all call this a win for cruising and something we have been looking forward to.'

Crystal 'Book Now' fares start at $1,999. Sales open March 18, with no money down until April 5. 

The new program replaces Crystal Serenity itineraries that were set to sail July 8 through Oct. 19. Impacted travelers may transfer their bookings with an applicable 115% cruise credit.

Follows SeaDream try last November from Barbados

The only prior effort to resume cruising in the Americas was SeaDream Yacht Club's planned program from Barbados last November. A COVID-19 outbreak on SeaDream I's first sailing put a quick end to that. 

Much has changed since then, particularly the advent of vaccination.