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Cruise ship capacity: From P&O Cruises to Marella Cruises, what is guest capacity now?

Author: Harriet Mallinson

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Cruise ship capacity was hit hard by Covid restrictions when cruising resumed over the summer but as travel opens up further, rules have relaxed - what are the latest regulations?

Cruise ship capacity was limited to just 50 percent when cruises started back up again in mid-2021 due to Covid restrictions.

However, rules have since simplified, with the capacity limit lifted at Step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown.

Cruise ships are now able to sail with a greater number of passengers as long as cabins are kept free for potential quarantine cases. Many are also limiting guests to facilitate social distancing.

Government cruise advice states: “Operators should review and reduce as necessary the number of passengers onboard to enable certain measures identified below to be achieved. This is key to enable appropriate social distancing and availability of spare cabins for isolation of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 onboard.”

We spoke to the major cruise lines to find out what they are currently operating at.

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P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises said they are operating at a maximum of 75 percent capacity.

A cruise line spokesman told World of Cruising: "It varies according to itinerary and ship but around up to 75 percent in Europe and lower in the Caribbean."

The cruise line currently has six ships. Newest P&O cruise ship Iona carries 5,200 at normal capacity while smallest ship Aurora hosts 1,874 passengers.

- READ MORE: P&O Cruises Covid restrictions: What rules are onboard? -

Marella Cruises

Marella Cruises refused to comment on its current capacity.

The cruise line has four ships. At normal capacity Marella Explorer carries 1,924 guests in 962 cabins, Marella Explorer 2 has 1,814 passengers in 907 cabins, Marella Discovery hosts 1,830 passengers in 918 cabins while Marella Discovery 2 carries 1,836 guests in 918 cabins.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises is currently operating at three-quarters capacity.

A spokeswoman told World of Cruising: "We are currently sailing at around 75 percent capacity. It’s not been confirmed on when we will go back to 100 percent."

At full capacity, new ship to the fleet Sky Princess carries 3,660 guests.

Marella Cruises refused to comment on its current capacity. Credit: Marella Cruises

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean is continuing to sail at a reduced capacity.

A cruise line spokeswoman told World of Cruising: "However the load factor varies depending on the ship and region."

At normal capacity, Royal Caribbean's biggest cruise ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas host 6,780 passengers. Smallest ship Rhapsody of the Seas carries 2,416 guests.

MSC Cruises

MSC has a "reduced occupancy limit" in place but has not said when capacity will increase.

An MSC Cruises spokeswoman told World of Cruising: "We currently operate with a reduced occupancy limit in line with requirements of the local authorities where we operate and to meet the needs of our protocol whereby we require cabin space reserved for isolation purposes as well as to ensures appropriate social distancing.

"Meanwhile we are not providing any visibility on when and how capacity restrictions will evolve since that depends on the pandemic and decisions by the authorities in the near term."

- READ MORE: Cruise ship rules and regulations you need to know -

She added: "We are expecting a return to pre-crisis booking levels in 2022 when we will see a full recovery possibly above our own 2019 levels since we will have four more ships in operation bringing our fleet to a total of 21 vessels in 2022 vs 17 vessels in 2019."

MSC has 19 ships in total. At full capacity, new cruise ship MSC Virtuosa carries 6,334 guests in 2,421 cabins while smallest ship MSC Sinfonia carries 2,546 in 980 cabins.

The heart of MSC Virtuosa is the Galleria Virtuosa, a 112m-long, two-deck- high indoor promenade. Credit: MSC Cruise

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises also has "reduced capacity" which will increase in line with public health measures.

A Regent spokeswoman told World of Cruising: "Regent Seven Seas Cruises currently have reduced guest capacity onboard each ship to provide even more space for responsible physical distancing.

- READ MORE: Regent Seven Seas Splendor review -

"Regent will increase capacity as the public health environment allows, and even at full capacity Regent benefits from unrivalled space at sea with some of the highest guest space ratios in the industry."

Regent has four ships in operation. Newest ship Regent Seven Seas Splendor carries 750 passengers in 375 cabins as does Explorer. Smallest ship Navigator (returning in January 2022) has capacity for 490 guests in 245 suites.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Fred. Olsen is operating at nearly three-quarter's capacity.

A spokesman said: "[We are] currently aiming at 70 percent on Borealis and 73 percent on Bolette."

Regent Seven Seas Cruises has "reduced capacity." Credit: Regent Seven Seas

Oceania Cruises

Oceania is "operating at reduced capacity which will increase in line with public health measures," according to a cruise line spokeswoman.

At full capacity, Oceania Cruises ships Marina & Riviera carry 1,250 passengers in 625 cabins, while Regatta, Insignia, Nautica and Sirena carry 684 guests in 342 cabins.

- READ MORE: Oceania Cruises: Inside the new health-focused kitchen and spa -

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) said guests capacity will be controlled onboard ships but when Norwegian Encore sailed in August from the US it was around 60 percent capacity.

The NCL website explains: “We will initially control the guest capacity onboard each ship to provide even more space per guest.”

A cruise line spokeswoman added: "We are planning to have all ships back in operation by end of Q1 2022."

The cruise line has 17 ships. Smallest ship Norwegian Sun has a guest capacity of 1,936 while biggest ship Norwegian Escape carries 4,266 passengers.


Silversea says it is operating at full capacity but cabins are set aside for quarantine.

A cruise line spokesman told World of Cruising: "Due to the spaciousness of our ships and our already low capacities, our ships are sailing at up to full capacity.

"As part of our science-backed health and safety protocols, we are reserving a number of suites aboard each ship for use as dedicated isolation suites in case of need."

Norwegian Cruise Line advertises a selection of dedicated single studios. Credit: NCL

Viking Cruises

Viking Cruises said its ships are operating "in line with local government guidelines."

A Viking spokeswoman told World of Cruising: "Our voyages are operating in line with local government guidelines in each destination."

Viking's river ships host 190 or fewer guests, the line's ocean ships carry 930 guests while expedition ships host 378 guests.

- READ MORE: Best river cruise lines in the world for 2021 from Viking to Crystal -

Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises said the line was operating at "reduced capacity."

A Crystal spokeswoman told World of Cruising: "Our ships are inherently designed for more space, however, we are sailing at a reduced capacity on our ocean ships, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, and our new expedition ship, Crystal Endeavor."

The cruise line has eight ships in total. At normal capacity, Crystal's ocean ships Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity carry 848 and 900 guests respectively. The line's river ships host 106 guests with the exception of Mozart which has 120 passengers. Expedition ship Crystal Endeavor carries 200 guests.

Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages is sailings with "a reduced capacity at 60 percent at the moment," a spokeswoman said.

At normal capacity, Scarlet Lady cruise ship holds 2,770 "sailors."

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