In North America, the cruise industry has been treading water since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a No Sail Order March 2020. Although ships have already started sailing in Europe and Asia, the ocean-faring vessels on this side of the Atlantic and Pacific are still waiting to cast off their lines. Until recently, only ships with fewer than 200 passengers and crew members were allowed to sail, which limited the seafaring options to river and coastal voyages. But a spate of new developments could help launch if not a thousand ships then at least a few dozen this summer.

“For people who love cruising, this is going to be very joyous,” said Chris Gray Faust, managing editor of Cruise Critic. The return to cruising is not obstacle-free — see Florida’s ban on vaccine passports. Travelers should stay flexible as itineraries, departure dates and safety protocols take shape.

Here is an overview of the current state of cruising and what you need to know before booking a cruise and busting out your bathing suit, passport and vax card.

What to know

  • Are cruise ships sailing yet?
  • Which cruise ships require vaccinations for passengers?
  • What is the difference between Caribbean ports and U.S. ports?
  • What requirements must the ships fulfill before they are allowed to depart from U.S. ports?
  • Has the CDC approved any fully vaccinated ships to depart from a U.S. port?
  • Florida’s governor signed a law that prohibits businesses from requiring customers to be vaccinated, starting on July 1. How will this law affect cruise ships based in Florida?