Royal Caribbean has announced it will homeport Anthem of the Seas in the UK for the 2021 summer cruise season, with roundtrip itineraries from Southampton.
Anthem of the Seas will begin her summer season on July 7th, with 999 staterooms being offered to workers in the emergency services, National Health Service (NHS), social care sector and armed forces.
Royal Caribbean is offering the free cruises in recognition of the tremendous efforts of these key workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, while the exact number of cabins (999) is a nod to the three-digit emergency number in the UK.
“After a tough year, we all need a holiday, but no one more so than the emergency services, NHS, social care sector and armed forces who will have the long-awaited opportunity to get away and relax with total peace of mind,” said Michael Bayley, President & CEO, Royal Caribbean International.
Anthem of the Seas will sail a combination of four-night Ocean Getaways in early July and five- to eight-night British Isles cruises, starting July 15 that feature visits to destinations such as Liverpool, England, Kirkwall in Scotland and Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Bookings will open on April 7th, but will only be available to UK residents. In addition, the cruises will only be available to those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (if older than 18) and those with negative test results (if under 18).
“These current health and safety measures, like others, may evolve as they are evaluated on an ongoing basis,” the cruise line said. “Pre-registration for guests eligible for one of the 999 free staterooms open on April 13, and final names will be drawn from a ballot by the end of April.”
While some of the cruise lines that have announced scheduled cruises from the UK for summer have restricted their itineraries as cruises to nowhere to avoid the added complication of hosting shore excursions, Royal Caribbean has confirmed there will be port calls on each itinerary.
Anthem of the Seas will call in Liverpool, ports in Scotland and in Belfast. Liverpool is not only the birthplace of The Beatles and home to Premier League football clubs, but also a vibrant, cosmopolitan city that boasts a wealth of maritime history and modern art.
In Kirkwall, on Scotland’s Orkney Islands, guests can experience some of the most picturesque landscapes in the UK and the opportunity to discover and learn about the Viking heritage of this ancient Norse town.
Belfast presents the perfect gateway to exploring Northern Ireland, known for its historic landmarks, ancient Irish castles and stunning natural terrain. The city is also synonymous with The Troubles, a period of political unrest during the latter half of the 20th century. The scars of that history make the city an intriguing destination for travellers from around the world.
“The UK is a place we hold near and dear to our heart at Royal Caribbean,” said Michael Bayley, President & CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “We miss our UK guests and are as eager as they are to get back to cruising from Southampton.”
“We are delighted with the UK government’s recent announcements regarding cruising and excited to set sail again with a phenomenal ship and favorite such as the Anthem of the Seas,” he added.