In another blow to cruising, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) — an industry trade group — announced that its members will extend their suspension of cruising until at least September 15, 2020.
According to a press release from the group:
Due to the ongoing situation within the U.S. related to COVID-19, CLIA member cruise lines have decided to voluntarily extend the period of suspended passenger operations. The current No Sail Order issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will expire on 24 July, and although we had hoped that cruise activity could resume as soon as possible after that date, it is increasingly clear that more time will be needed to resolve barriers to resumption in the United States.
“Although we are confident that future cruises will be healthy and safe, and will fully reflect the latest protective measures, we also feel that it is appropriate to err on the side of caution to help ensure the best interests of our passengers and crewmembers. We have therefore decided to further extend our suspension of operations from U.S. ports until 15 September. The additional time will also allow us to consult with the CDC on measures that will be appropriate for the eventual resumption of cruise operations.
“This voluntary suspension applies to all CLIA members to which the No Sail Order applied (vessels with capacity to carry 250 persons or more). CLIA member cruise lines will continually evaluate the evolving situation and make a determination as to whether a further extension is necessary.”
As mentioned, this announcement applies to all of its member cruise lines, which include major names like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line.
Norwegian had just announced a few days ago that it was suspending most of its sailings until October. As we mentioned then, it seemed likely that more cruise lines would follow suit. In fact, the whole industry has done so.
The cruise industry first suspended sailings from the United States back in mid-March, when the pandemic was still in its early stages. In the months since, the United States has dealt with a stubborn outbreak that seemingly refuses to ease. The number of new cases has stayed relatively flat around 20,000-25,000 each day for weeks now.
If cruises do get back to sailing in mid-September, that would be a suspension of six months across the industry. Keep in mind, however, that the September return date is not guaranteed. It could be extended further should the country still not be over the pandemic.
And before any cruises can sail again from the United States, they must also have the approval of the CDC, which currently has a “No Sail Order” in place.
In anticipation of returning to sailing, many cruise lines have announced procedures and policies they are putting in place to keep passengers healthy. This includes moves like social distancing in areas of the ship, temperature checks, and more air filtration. These policies will be key to gaining the confidence of authorities and passengers that they can keep people safe.
While cruise lines haven’t announced details with this latest round of suspensions, impacted passengers on previously cancelled voyages have received the option of their money back or a future cruise credit to apply to another trip. It’s likely that similar policies will be in place for this round of cancellations as well.