(3:05 p.m. EDT) -- Luxury cruise operator Crystal has announced it will resume sailings aboard a second ship this summer, deploying Crystal Symphony on voyages from St. John's, Antigua, beginning in August.
Crystal Symphony becomes the first ship to homeport in Antigua and the third vessel in the Crystal Cruises fleet to return to service. Fleetmate Crystal Serenity will begin offering Bahamian immersion cruises sailing roundtrip from Nassau this June, while the brand-new Crystal Endeavor sails from Iceland on new itineraries starting July 17.
From St. John's Antigua, Crystal Symphony will offer 15 "Luxury Caribbean Escapes" -- new 10-day itineraries that will run through December, with a special holiday sailing departing December 23.
Barbados, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Maarten and the British Virgin Islands are on the itinerary. Crystal notes that calls on Trinidad and Tobago are still subject to government approval, though other ports of call are confirmed.
With the deployment of Crystal Symphony this summer, 97 percent of Crystal's oceangoing fleet will be returned to service. Only the line's smaller yacht, Crystal Esprit, remains out of service, along with the company's separate luxury European river cruise fleet.
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Reservations for Crystal Symphony's new Caribbean itineraries from Antigua open April 20.
Crystal's announcement Friday is the latest in a long line of industry redeployments this week, as cruise lines seek new homeports outside the United States from which to restart global operations.
As with Crystal's other offerings, full vaccination against COVID-19 will be required for all passengers and crew on Crystal Symphony's new Antiguan sailings.
"The islands of the Caribbean are a warm welcome back to traveling the world, rich in fascinating history and the kind of natural beauty that astounds even the most seasoned travelers, and St. John’s is an ideal home port to begin luxury journeys through such a paradise," Crystal interim President and CEO Jack Anderson said.
While other vessels call on Antigua as a port of call or perform select turnaround calls there, none in recent memory have made St. John's a homeport for an entire season. Crystal Cruises does so with the complete blessing of local authorities there, who are eager to see tourism return to their island nation.
"We are delighted to welcome Crystal Symphony and her guests to Antigua and the Caribbean, as this represents an important milestone in reinvigorating tourism here, as well as deeper support of our island communities' economies as Crystal becomes the first cruise line to homeport on a scheduled basis in St. John's," Minister of Tourism and Investment for Antigua and Barbuda Charles Fernandez said in a statement.