Although the CDC’s no sail order for cruise ships will expire in July, the Cruise Lines International Association has announced that cruise lines will voluntarily extend the suspension until September 15th.
The decision was made by cruise lines due to ongoing concerns over the ability to transfer crew on and off the ships, travel restrictions put in place by many cruise ports and rising numbers of cases in the United States as the economy starts to reopen.
“Due to the ongoing situation within the U.S. related to COVID-19, CLIA member cruise lines have decided to voluntarily extend the period of suspended passenger operations,” said the statement from CLIA, which represents more than 95 percent of global cruise lines.
The statement added that while the current no sail order issued by the CDC would expire on July 24th, it is increasingly looking like cruises will not be able to resume after that date.
“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,” the group said.
The statement didn’t specifically mention the various health protocols that have been implemented by various cruise lines to combat the spread of Coronavirus on-board, but did reiterate its belief that cruises can be made safe in the post-COVID era.
“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,” it said.
The statement added that the additional time will also cruise lines to consult with the CDC on measures that will be appropriate for the eventual resumption of cruise operations.
This is unlikely to be the final extension of the suspension of cruise operations, and indeed the statement from CLIA left the door open to further cancellations, due to the evolving nature of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“This voluntary suspension applies to all CLIA members to which the No Sail Order applied (vessels with capacity to carry 250 persons or more). CLIA member cruise lines will continually evaluate the evolving situation and make a determination as to whether a further extension is necessary,” the statement said.