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Sept. 20 update: Half the Fun Ship fleet now sailing, Royal Caribbean Hong Kong delay, NCL wraps 'Embark,' Crystal River extends vaccine mandate through 2022

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Carnival Glory crew welcome back passengers
Here's a quick read of some of today’s coronavirus-recovery cruise news. This is being updated throughout the day.

Carnival Glory kicks off oceangoing cruises from New Orleans

Carnival Glory sailed from the Port of New Orleans Sunday, marking the first oceangoing cruise from the city since the industry-wide pause in operations 18 months ago. The seven-day sailing will visit Bimini, Freeport and Nassau.

Carnival Glory had been housing Hurricane Ida first responders until Sept. 18.

A 'Back to Fun' event was held at the Erato Street Cruise Terminal with Sarah Beth Reno, VP guest operations, Carnival Cruise Line; Carnival Glory Capt. Nicola Iaccarino and Port of New Orleans President and CEO Brandy  Christian cutting a ribbon to welcome passengers.

'Carnival Cruise Line is a valued longtime partner and we are proud to welcome Carnival Glory back for the first oceangoing cruise from New Orleans since March 2020,' Christian said. 'We applaud Carnival’s commitment to the New Orleans market and for exceeding health and safety requirements to protect guests, crew and the community.' The return she added, will be a 'boost to our local economy.'

On Nov. 1, Carnival Valor will join Carnival Glory and resume its four- and five-day sailing schedule. With the two ships, Carnival expects to carry 400,000 passengers annually from New Orleans — more than any cruise operator.

Carnival launched the first year-round cruise program from New Orleans in 1994 and over the years has expanded the number of ships, capacity and cruise options, carrying upwards of 4.5m passengers.

Half the Fun Ship fleet is now in service

Wtih Carnival Glory and Carnival Dream resuming operations Sunday, Carnival now has 11 ships, half its fleet, in service.

Carnival Dream became the third Fun Ship to operate year-round from Galveston when it departed over the weekend on a six-day Caribbean cruise.

Beginning with its return to guest operations on July 3 with Carnival Vista, the line is operating from seven US homeports including Miami, Galveston, Seattle, Port Canaveral, Long Beach, Baltimore and New Orleans.

'We couldn’t have accomplished this without the support of our travel advisor partners, business partners and port and destinations partners,' Carnival President Christine Duffy said.

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Spectrum of the Seas is now expected to begin Hong Kong sailings Oct. 14

Further Royal Caribbean delay in Hong Kong

Royal Caribbean International's Spectrum of the Seas is now to begin sailing from Hong Kong on Oct. 14 instead of Oct. 5. 

'Due to Hong Kong regulations our crew quarantine took longer than we anticipated and we had to push back our start date. We are excited about starting in Hong Kong,' a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman told Seatrade Cruise News. 

Spectrum had first been scheduled to sail in late July, then late August and, most recently, Oct. 5.

Dream Cruises' Genting Dream commenced Hong Kong service in late July.

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Crystal River Cruises' crew currently mask up in public areas

Crystal River Cruises extends vaccination mandate through 2022

Crystal River Cruises extended its COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all passengers and crew more than a full year, through December 2022. 

This means full vaccination at least 14 days prior to embarkation. Passengers will need to provide documentation at the time of check-in before embarking their vessel. The mandate allows traelers the freedom to explore ashore independently and facilitates hassle-free travel across multi-country itineraries.

Further current measures include COVID-19 tests at embarkation, temperature checks when returning from ashore and social distancing guidelines. At this time, crew are wearing masks in all public areas.

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The finale revolves around Norwegian Encore's first Alaska cruise in August

NCL's 'Embark' series finale

The final installment in Norwegian Cruise Line's five-part 'Embark' docuseries chronicling its return to service will air Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. EDT at www.ncl.com/embark and on Facebook

This installment follows the preparations for Norwegian Encore's Aug. 7 resumption in the US with its first season of cruises to Alaska from the Port of Seattle, where NCL pioneered homeporting for Alaska service 21 years ago.

'From the beginning, we wanted to bring guests along on our 'Great Cruise Comeback' journey,' NCL President and CEO Harry Sommer said. 'Given the level of uncertainty over the last several months many of us have been through, we wanted to reassure travelers that we were doing everything possible to provide the safest vacation experience, while also taking the time to elevate the on-board offerings. Through 'Embark – The Series' we were able to demonstrate exactly how we were delivering on our commitment.'

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