Norwegian Cruise Line is back in action.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Norwegian hadn't sailed with passengers for 500 days, according to the company, and the Norwegian Jade became the cruise line's first ship to resume service when sailed Sunday from Athens, Greece.
Norwegian Jade will sail to the Greek Isles on voyages from Athens to Crete, Mykonos, Rhodes and Santorini through November.
The ship is the first of the 17-ship Norwegian fleet to recommence voyages. On Aug. 7, Norwegian Encore will be the first ship to return to cruising in U.S. waters after the COVID-19 hiatus with Alaska cruises from Seattle.
"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 chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line, said in a statement.
Greek Minister of Tourism Harry Theoharis added: "We are overjoyed to welcome Norwegian Jade and her guests to Greece. The planned itineraries will offer unique experiences that combine our rich history, bustling culture and famous gastronomy."
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., parent company to Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, announced in April that it would require all passengers and crew on its ships to be fully vaccinated two weeks before boarding. The requirement stands for voyages through Oct. 31.
The company filed suit in Florida this month over the state’s law prohibiting "vaccine passports," a term referring to proof of vaccination.
Norwegian Cruise Line expands Europe presence
The Norwegian Jade is the first of the Norwegian Cruise Line’s ships to home port in Athens. The new home port has been established as part of the line’s strategy to increase its presence in Europe. Through 2023, the company plans to position nine ships in the region, with seven of those scheduled to sail in Greece.
Sommer said Norwegian Jade’s first Greek Isles voyages sold out quickly.