Remainder of US Cruises for 2020 Canceled

US cruises canceled for 2020
Port Canaveral (file photo)

Published Nov 2, 2020 8:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

The North American cruise industry today canceled the remainder of its cruises for 2020. The decision to cancel the remainder of cruises that had been targeted as a resumption of service in December extends the cruise industry pause to nine months, despite the hope that Friday’s decision by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would clear the way for US cruises to again sail.

All of the largest cruise companies marketed to the North American market, including Carnival Corporation, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Royal Caribbean Group, and MSC Cruises, each confirmed that they had canceled the remainder of US sailings for 2020. Most of the cruise lines had previously canceled the majority of their sailing while, for example, Carnival Cruise Line continued to show cruises from Miami and Port Canaveral, while warning they were tentative sailings.

In announcing the decision to extend the cancelations, the cruise lines continued to cite the uncertainty over the virus. For example, in its announcement, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings said, “The company will continue to work in tandem with global government and public health authorities and its Healthy Sail Panel expert advisors to take all necessary measures to protect its guests, crew and the communities visited.”

Last Friday, the cruise industry and travelers responded positively to the CDC’s decision to evolve its no sail order for cruises in the US to a framework for the resumption of service. The cruise industry highlighting the decision as a pathway toward resuming service while many loyal cruise fans optimistically assumed that cruising would restart quickly.

The CDC’s new order lays out a series of steps that the cruise lines will be required to follow before they can resume even a limited level of service. The lines need to establish testing capabilities so that passengers and crew can be screened for the virus at that start and conclusion of every cruise, as well as demonstrate the procedures to handle operations onshore and aboard ship. In the second phase, the CDC is also requiring mock cruises with volunteers to test the processes, including quarantine and evacuation. 

No indication of timing was provided for how quickly the CDC would permit the cruise lines to proceed to resume commercial operations. The cruise lines, however, will continue to be supervised to ensure that they are following procedures and the CDC retains the right to suspend a cruise if a coronavirus threshold is exceeded. Marketing also requires the cruise lines to advise consumers of the CDC advisories and warnings and cruises are limited to seven days or less.

A number of the smaller cruise lines quickly responded to the CDC announcement. For example, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, which planned to be among the first to resume service, posted a message on its website announcing the CDC’s actions. They said the cruise line would begin accepting reservations in the near future for its two-day cruises to the Bahamas.

While the large cruise lines delayed their US cruise, the limited international efforts continue. Royal Caribbean International is proceeding with its preparations for cruises to nowhere aboard one ship operating from Singapore although the launch is now delayed till January 2021. 

The growing restrictions across Europe and new lockdowns, however, continue to challenge even those cruise operations. Last week, Carnival Corporation’s AIDA Cruises announced it was again pausing operations shortly after the line resumed operations with its first cruise ship. Now there are reports that Hapag Cruises, which is jointly owned by Royal Caribbean and TUI, is also pausing its cruises. Among the larger cruise operators, Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises, and TUI, however, so far are continuing their cruises sailing from Italy and Greece as well as Genting’s Dream Cruises sailing from Taiwan and starting in days from Singapore. Several cruise lines with smaller ships are also continuing to sail, including the Caribbean’s first trips operated by SeaDream Yacht Club.