The “No Sail Order” has been lifted and replaced with a path to return to sailing by the CDC. However, as we explained, that doesn’t mean that cruises will instantly get back to sailing.
Case in point: Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. announced today that it is suspending all voyages through the end of the year. This includes cruises aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises.
Previously, Norwegian had tentatively scheduled a return to sailing for December. This new extension means that the cruise line won’t sail until at least January 2021 at the earliest.
The cruise line made no mention of the CDC order in its press release. Instead, it simply said it “will continue to work in tandem with global government and public health authorities” as it looks to return to sailing.
So why cancel more cruises after the CDC chose not to extend its order banning cruises in the United States?
While the agency let the ban expire, its “Framework for Conditional Sailing” was put in its place. This framework lays out a path for cruise lines to get back to sailing, but only if they follow a specific set of requirements.
The framework includes rules about crew member safety, simulated voyages, applying and receiving a certificate to sail, and then following new safety rules once passenger cruises do start sailing. (Read the full explanation of what cruise lines must do to return sailing here.)
While the rules are numerous, there are also timelines attached.
For example, the CDC requires that cruise lines apply for their “Conditional Sailing Certificate” a minimum of 60 days before they plan to return to passenger sailing. So if a cruise line wanted to sail in January, they would need to apply for this certificate as soon as possible. However, there are other steps that must be taken before a cruise line can even apply that means the process could take even longer.
Given what we’ve seen from the new rules, it’s no surprise that Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. decided to extend its suspension. In fact, it seems likely that other cruise lines will soon do the same.
For example, following the CDC announcement on Friday, Royal Caribbean posted a message on its website stating, “While we are eager to welcome our guests back on board, we have a lot to do between now and then, and we’re committed to taking the time to do things right.”
As well, more extensions could be in order as cruise lines start working their way down the CDC’s framework and get a better sense of how long it will take to gain approval.
In other words, cruises are coming back, but it looks like there is plenty of time before they do.