Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) — an industry group of which all major cruise lines are members — announced today that its member lines are suspending all cruises until at least October 31.
In a press release sent out by the group this morning, CLIA said:
Despite the valuable alignment between CLIA’s previous voluntary suspension to 15 September and the CDC’s current No-Sail Order date of 30 September, we believe it is prudent at this time to voluntarily extend the suspension of U.S. ocean-going cruise operations to 31 October.
This is a difficult decision as we recognize the crushing impact that this pandemic has had on our community and every other industry. However, we believe this proactive action further demonstrates the cruise industry’s commitment to public health and willingness to voluntarily suspend operations in the interest of public health and safety, as has occurred twice prior.
CLIA cruise line members will continue to monitor the situation with the understanding that we will revisit a possible further extension on or before 30 September 2020. At the same time, should conditions in the U.S. change and it becomes possible to consider short, modified sailings, we would consider an earlier restart.
This suspension impacts all of the major cruise lines, including names like Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean. These lines (and others) will now officially not sail until at least the end of October.
Overlapping Return Dates Cause Confusion
The announcement is one of several made the government, the cruise industry, and cruise lines as they look to get back to sailing. Currently there is some overlap between announced cruise suspensions that may cause some confusion among passengers.
First, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a “No Sail” order in place. The current iteration has been extended multiple times. Now, cruises won’t sail from the United States until one of the following:
- The expiration of the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ declaration that COVID-19 constitutes a public health emergency,
- The CDC Director rescinds or modifies the order based on specific public health or other considerations, or
- September 30, 2020.
Second, CLIA has now placed this extension into place, which looks to lengthen the return of cruises across the industry until at least October 31. As mentioned above, they may look to return sooner if conditions improve. However, with the CDC order, that’s unlikely before September 30.
Finally, individual cruise lines have their own suspensions. While most are looking to return to sailing as soon as they can safely do so, others have announced lengthier suspensions. For example, Princess is pausing its operations until December 15.
What Needs to Happen for Ships to Return
So when will cruises actually return? As you might have guessed with the frequent extensions, no one knows for sure. It depends on the current health crisis. Currently cases remain elevated, with few signs of slowing down.
In a recent survey of more than 1,500 past cruise passengers, most people said they didn’t believe cruises would return until 2021, with the largest number suggesting a return sometime in the first half of next year.
As well, the return date will depend on the alignment of the cruise line, the cruise industry, and governments.
Before any ship can sail from the United States, it needs to have the blessing of the CDC, as well as the officials in any country the ship is sailing. Beyond that, the industry (CLIA) must be ready for its members to return to sailing, and finally, the cruise line will need to be ready to sail again.
The last thing anyone wants — government, industry, cruise line, or passengers/crew — is for ships to return to sailing and for the ship to have an outbreak. We’ve already seen this with a ship in Norway, causing a setback for the industry as a whole.
Our opinion? Given the number of cases and that one of the first ships sailing already had issues with an outbreak, it’s looking more likely that cruises won’t sail again from the United States until there is a vaccine or the ability to rapidly test all passengers before boarding.