After a year when much of the cruise industry has been dark, Celebrity Cruises will mark its return to Europe this summer with the launch of its new 2,910-passenger Celebrity Apex in Greece—and those who are vaccinated, including Americans, are being invited to board.
The seven-night sailings will kick off on June 19 out of Athens and stops will include the Greek islands of Mykonos, Rhodes, and Santorini; Limassol, Cyprus; and Haifa and Jerusalem, Israel. The cruises will open for booking on March 30 (when pricing will become available as well).
The announcement comes after Greece tourism minister Harry Theocharis said on March 9 that any travelers who are vaccinated against COVID-19, have antibodies, or test negative for COVID will be able to come to Greece this summer, according to a Reuters report. “Greece is ready with a complete protocol for summer 2021,” Theocharis said. He added that Greece wants to be ready to start its summer travel season by May 14.
All crew and guests older than 18 aboard the Celebrity Apex will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Those under the age of 18 must provide proof of negative COVID-19 PCR test results to board.
Celebrity also recently announced its return to the Caribbean on June 5, 2021, with cruises on the 2,218-passenger Celebrity Millennium. For the seven-night cruises out of St. Maarten, all adult passengers and crew will need to be vaccinated. Children under the age of 18 will need to present a negative COVID-19 test result received within 72 hours of embarkation.
Celebrity is part of the larger Royal Caribbean International family of cruise lines but it actually traces its beginnings to Greece. It was founded in 1988 by the Greek Chandris family and 70 percent of its marine officers are from Greece, including the captain of the Celebrity Apex, Dimitrios Kafetzis.
“I am proud to be welcoming Celebrity Cruises back to its Greek roots on this special occasion of our country’s independence bicentennial,” Theocharis said in a March 25 statement, a day that marked 200 years since Greece declared independence from Ottoman Turkish rule.
Celebrity Apex is the sister ship to the Celebrity Edge, which debuted in 2019 to much fanfare thanks in part to its “magic carpet” concept: an enclosed, cantilevered platform that moves up and down the side of the ship and serves as open-air lounge and restaurant. The vessels also feature two-story “villas” with plunge pools that passengers can book and more than two dozen dining venues.
In addition to the vaccination requirement, Celebrity guests must also present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in Greece. All health and safety protocols can be found on Celebrity’s “Healthy at Sea” portal.
>> Next: AFAR’s Ultimate Greece Travel Guide