Update: Since the announcement, Royal Caribbean has clarified that is plans to return cruising on April 11. Additionally, it has announced that it will halt all cruises globally. The original announcement said it would stop cruising for 30 days, only in the United States.
In what’s been a hectic 24 hours for cruise lines, another major industry leader has announced it will suspend cruises.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. — the parent company of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara, and Silversea — just announced it will stop sailings from the United States for the next 30 days.
“Today Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced that it is suspending cruising in the United States for 30 days.
“We understand the gravity of the public health crisis confronting the country. And this is our part to play. So, beginning at midnight tonight, we are pausing the fleet’s US sailings for 30 days.
“We are reaching out to our guests to help them work through this disruption to their vacations, and we are truly sorry for their inconvenience. We are also communicating with our crew to work out the issues this decision presents for them. We know this adds great stress to our guests, employees and crew, and we are working to minimize the disruption.”
There is no word yet on what will happen for passengers booked on these cruises or currently sailing. Other cruise lines have offered either full refunds or credit for a future trip.
The suspension of all cruises may sound drastic, but it seems to be the logical next step in the cruise industry’s fight against the outbreak. It’s also a move that other lines, including Disney, Princess, and Norwegian have recently made.
Already cruise lines have gone to extreme measures to keep passengers healthy and keep this crisis from impacting sailings. This includes denying boarding to passengers who have recently visited certain regions, passenger health screenings, and increased sanitation efforts on the ship.
Over the past several days, however, it’s become clear that the outbreak continues to grow. Now more than 100 countries have cases, including more than 1,000 in the United States alone.
Even with more flexible cancellation policies that allow passengers to cancel up to 48 hours before their cruise, it is a tougher sell to convince many people to cruise during a pandemic. Meanwhile, the global spread makes it much hard to contain by focusing on passengers who have been to certain regions.
Perhaps the biggest threat to cruise lines is the possibility of another cruise ship having confirmed cases onboard. Already the quarantining of ships from other lines has hurt the industry’s image as a whole. While we think that time will help heal that damage, more cruise ships coming down with cases would cause more harm.
Suspending cruises reduces that risk for the time being, while the world can hopefully help stop the spread.