Published On: Mon, Jun 22nd, 2020

No cruises until mid-September

No Ships in Great Bay - Pier Walter Plantz

PHILIPSBURG – Major cruise lines voluntarily extend a suspension of operations out of U.S. ports until Sept. 15, the Cruise Lines International Association announced Friday. The decision followed the news earlier this week that Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings will suspend its voyages through at least Sept. 30.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said in a statement that the extended suspension is due to the ongoing situation within the U.S. related to COVID-19. ”…it is increasingly clear that more time will be needed to resolve barriers to resumption in the United States.”

Shares of Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line fell more than 6% after the news broke on Friday. Investors had counted on Carnival Corporation, the largest cruise line company in the world, to resume operations in August and expected other cruise lines to follow soon thereafter.

With their ships stuck in port, the cruise lines keep bleeding cash. Royal Caribbean alone is losing as much as $275 million per month. While taking on more debt in order to raise the cash they need to survive until their ships can begin sailing again, cruise companies are now considered high risk stock.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “cruise ship travel exacerbates the global spread of Covid-19 and that the scope of this pandemic is inherently and necessarily a problem that is international and interstate in nature and has not been controlled sufficiently by the cruise ship industry or individual State or local health authorities.” On March 14, the CDC issued a no-sail order for cruise ships and extended it on April 9 until July 24.

The CDC website lists criteria for cruise ships that are repatriating crew members and includes a number of requirements to safely get them home via commercial travel. The CDC specifically mentions these rules do not apply to passengers onboard. “Meeting these criteria does not mean cruise ships can resume passenger operations. We don’t have enough information at this time to say when it will be safe to resume sailing with passengers. Cruise lines may need to establish additional safety measures before sailing with passengers is permitted to resume. CDC will continue to evaluate and update its recommendations as the situation evolves.”

Norwegian Cruise Line said Monday that it will continue to work with the CDC and other global health authorities to “take all necessary precautions to ensure the health, safety, and security of guests, crew, and the communities visited.”

The voluntary suspension of voyages until mid-September applies to all CLIA members to which the No Sail Order applied, meaning vessels with the capacity to carry 250 persons or more. “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,” reads the statement by CLIA. “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.”