Two cruise lines have announced they will be offering cruises in the Mediterranean and Aegean this summer in a move that marks the continued resumption of cruise holidays and the countdown to the long-anticipated lifting of overseas travel restrictions in the UK. Celebrity Cruises will debut its new ship Celebrity Apex on a series of round-trip sailings from Athens and Royal Caribbean International will offer itineraries from Cyprus.
Cruises on the 2,900-passenger Celebrity Apex – the second vessel in the line’s Edge series – will begin on June 19th and represent a ‘homecoming’ to the country where the company first began sailing. The seven-night sailings will visit destinations including Mykonos, Rhodes and Santorini, Greece; Limassol, Cyprus; and Haifa and Jerusalem, Israel. The sailings will open for booking on 30th March and be available for passengers over the age of 18 who have been COVID-19 vaccinated.
The company’s return to the Aegean is all the more special given the line’s heritage which goes back to 1988 when it was founded by the Greek Chandris family. Now part of the Royal Caribbean Group, Celebrity is still rooted in its Greek origins with 70% of the fleet’s marine officers hailing from Greece, including the Captain of Celebrity Apex, Dimitrios Kafetzis.
Celebrity Cruises President and CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, said:
“Celebrity Apex is such an exquisite ship and for her to finally begin sailing in the beautiful Aegean, where it all began for our fleet, and after so long away, is incredibly meaningful. This is a very special homecoming for Celebrity Cruises made possible with the strong collaboration of the Greek government.”
Jo Rzymowska, Vice President and CEO, EMEA, Celebrity Cruises, added:
“I can’t imagine a more perfect setting to finally launch our beautiful Celebrity Apex than the birthplace of the brand and with such stunning itineraries. Whilst British holidaymakers will have to wait a while longer to experience our flagship until international travel opens back up, we hope to welcome them onboard later in the season. I for one will be first in the queue as soon as that day arrives!”
Royal Caribbean International guests and can also soak up the Mediterranean sun and explore the coastlines of Greece and Cyprus on all-new seven-night cruises departing for the first time from Limassol, Cyprus. Starting on July 10th, the 2,700-passenger Jewel of the Seas will visit cities and islands, including Athens and the Greek islands of Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos and Santorini. The cruises will open for booking on April 7th and will be available to adult guests who are vaccinated against COVID-19 and those under the age of 18 with negative test results.
Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International, commented:
“I’m delighted to announce our safe and gradual return to Europe. We know how eager our guests are to enjoy a getaway this summer, and these sailings, which include a mix of fantastic destinations and must-visit islands, make for the perfect getaway. Cyprus is a beautiful island, and we are thankful to the Cypriot government for their support and enthusiasm in making these incredible itineraries possible.”
Savvas Perdios, the Deputy Minister of Tourism for Cyprus, added:
“We are delighted that Royal Caribbean will call Limassol its homeport for the first time ever. This has been an ambition of ours for many years, and we are thrilled that, finally, this dream has come to fruition. We have every confidence that Royal Caribbean’s presence in Limassol will be beneficial to Cyprus and, similarly, we are very confident that as a homeport and as a country, Cyprus will live up to the expectations of Royal Caribbean and its guests.”
In other cruises news, P&O Cruises has announced that its new ship Arvia, launching December 2022, will sail its maiden season in the Caribbean. The cruises will feature La Romana in the Dominican Republic – a maiden port of call for P&O Cruises – and destinations including Barbados, Curacao, Martinique, St Kitts, St Lucia and St Maarten. Itineraries, running from January to March 2023, include seven and 14-night fly/cruises from the UK and 22-night holidays sailing from Southampton.
The line’s President, Paul Ludlow, said:
“Arvia holidays, alongside the rest of our winter 2022 season, will be on sale very shortly. We cannot wait to bring our newest ship to our glorious home port of Barbados and also to Antigua, which will be a first-time turnaround port for P&O Cruises.
“The Caribbean is the optimal maiden season destination for Arvia; a ship where every facet, including unique retractable roof SkyDome and Altitude Skywalk high ropes, is designed to provide exceptional views of the ocean, seashore and surrounding destinations. From the very initial concept Arvia has been created to be the epitome of a sunshine resort, developed to be an ideal way to enjoy the Caribbean’s turquoise waters and white sandy beaches like never before.”
Known as the ‘River Cruise Queen’, Jeannine Williamson is an award-winning travel writer, cruise expert and our cruise correspondent, who has clocked up thousands of nautical miles.
Photographs courtesy of Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and P&O Cruises