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Travel: Norwegian Cruise Line Returns With First Sailing in 500 Days

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After 500 days away from the high seas, Norwegian Cruise Lines has officially returned.

a small boat in a harbor next to a body of water: Danny Lehman/Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line © Provided by Travel + Leisure Danny Lehman/Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

The Norwegian Jade set sail from Athens this week as the first Norwegian cruise ship with ticketed passengers on board since the start of the pandemic. The sailing was also the first Norwegian cruise to homeport in Athens.

"Welcoming our guests and crew on board has been one of the most memorable moments of my over 30-year career," Harry Sommer, president, and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, said in a statement Monday. "We are excited to embark on the Great Cruise Comeback with a brand-new itinerary and homeport for our brand, offering our guests an even greater selection of unique vacations at sea."

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a small boat in a harbor next to a body of water: The cruise also marks the first time Norwegian is setting sail from Athens. © Danny Lehman/Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line The cruise also marks the first time Norwegian is setting sail from Athens.

Cruises aboard the Jade sold out "shortly after we made the announcement that we were on our way back," Sommer said.

To help meet the rising demand, Norwegian is bringing even more ships into the region. The Norwegian Jade will sail a new Greek Isles itinerary through November, with stops in Crete, Mykonos, and Santorini.

By 2023, a total of seven Norwegian ships will set sail from their new homeport of Athens, helping to increase the cruise line's presence in Europe. The Norwegian Dawn, Epic, Escape, Getaway, Gem, and Star ships will slowly join the Jade in Athens over the next two years.

The Norwegian Jade is the first of Norwegian's 17 ships to resume sailing. On Aug. 7, the Norwegian Encore will become the first ship to return to service in U.S. waters, debuting in Seattle for the start of the Alaska cruise season.

All Norwegian Cruise Line passengers and crew are required to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before sailing. This order will remain in effect at least through Oct. 31.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.

14 Tips for First-Time Cruisers .
Plan ahead for smooth sailing on your first cruise adventure.To help make your debut voyage as seamless as possible, U.S. News compiled the following tips from industry specialists and avid cruisers. From booking your cruise to embarking on the ship to saying farewell at the end of your sailing, these tips will help ensure you have a vacation of a lifetime. (Note: Some sailings may be affected due to the coronavirus pandemic. Cruise lines may require travelers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 test before boarding. Some excursions and onboard activities may also be limited.

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