Cruise Lines Cancel Through End Of Year Even After No-Sail Ban Lifted

Lynn Elmhirst, Open Jaw Trends Editor


Photo by joe.tolley, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
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Many travellers and travel advisors cheered late Friday as it was announced that the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had lifted the No-Sail Order that had brought cruising from US ports to a standstill.

The message everyone heard was that cruising would resume.

That was Friday.  On Monday, all the major cruise companies across the board announced they were actually extending their suspension of sailing through the end of this year:

Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (NCLH) announced an extension of its suspension of all voyages globally through the month of DEC for all three brands. 

According to NCLH, “The Company will continue to work in tandem with global government and public health authorities and its Healthy Sail Panel,” towards a resumption of service.

Azamara, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Silversea

Royal Caribbean Group also announced its cancellation of cruises for all four brands through the end of 2020, with the exception of sailings from Singapore. 

The company had already announced last week ahead of the expiry of the CDC No Sail Order that its return to service would be in gradual phases, beginning most likely with only a couple of ships from US drive ports and a focus on its private island destinations.

MSC Cruises

The Europe-based cruise line has extended the temporary pause of its US sailings through 31DEC as well. 

The extension applies only to the company’s three ships based in Florida: MSC Seaside in Port Canaveral, and MSC Meraviglia and MSC Armonia both in PortMiami.

Carnival Cruise Line, Cunard North America, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn

The five brands comprising Carnival Corporation have also had their pause in operations extended until the end of this year.  

In a statement, the company indicates dates for resumption of cruising for each line will be announced individually, suggesting staggered start dates.

The Catch

As Open Jaw has reported, the CDC announcement came with plenty of conditions cruise lines have to meet to attain certification to begin cruising again. 

Yes, it will take time to implement and test the new measures, and run required ‘test’ voyages to ‘pass’ the CDC’s certification process. 

But it was one clause in particular that most likely triggered the industry-wide cancellation of sailings through the end of December.

There’s a footnote on page 28 of the CDC’s Conditional Sail Order issued on 31OCT. It says that materials submitted by the cruise lines to the CDC to request a resumption of sailing, "should be submitted at least 60 calendar days prior to the date on which the cruise ship operator proposes to commence restricted passenger operations."

That effectively extended the No Sail Order by another 60 days – taking us to the end of the year.

Now, industry observers expect February to be the most likely month for phased cruise restarts, with UBS analyst Robyn Farley predicting, "Overall, our 2021 estimates assume about 30% of cruise capacity in service for the year on average."

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