Cruising is unlikely to resume in the US until at least the new year after three of the world’s largest cruise operators confirmed they would be further suspending their operational pauses until the end of the year.
Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ brands have all extended their existing operational pauses until 31 December while the industry collectively works towards a set of common Covid health and safety protocols to allow passenger cruising to resume.
Late last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped its long-standing no-sail order, which effectively banned cruise operations in US waters owing to Covid, and replaced it with a "framework for conditional sailing order".
The order will allow cruise lines to start working towards implementing the recommendations of the pan-industry Healthy Sail Panel and eventually operate "simulated voyages" to test the new protocols.
Clia said its US members were ready to implement 100% pre-cruise testing for passengers and crew, mandatory mask-wearing, enforcement of physical distancing where necessary, and tighter oversight for passengers during shore excursions.
On Monday (2 November), Carnival, Royal and NCLH all announced extended operational pauses up to 31 December, which would appear to end any hope or prospect of paying guests cruising in US waters this year.
Carnival Corporation chief executive Arnold Donald said the group would continue to work with the CDC, as well as global government and public health authorities and medical and scientific experts, "on a comprehensive plan for the eventual restart of cruising in north America" that would protect guests, crew and public health.
Each individual Carnival brand will update guests on the effects of the extension on their cruise plans, and their options. Restart dates will also be communicated by each respective Carnival brand, albeit with all of the group’s brands cruise operations suspended until at least 31 December.
In a statement, Royal Caribbean Group said its primary goal continued to be a healthy return to service for our guests, crew and the communities visited by the group’s brands.
"As we work with the CDC and others toward this shared goal, Royal Caribbean Group will be extending the suspension of sailings to include those departing on or before 31 December 2020, excluding sailings from Singapore.
"Celebrity Cruises has already suspended their full 2020/21 winter program in Australia and Asia. Additionally, Azamara has suspended their 2020/21 winter sailings throughout Australia and New Zealand, South Africa and South America."
The group added it would be in touch with guests and travel partners to share further details and address any questions or concerns.
NCLH, meanwhile, parent to Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas, also announced an extension to its operational pause until the end of the year.
Like Carnival and Royal, it has pledged to work with government and public health authorities around the world "to take all necessary measures" to protect guests, crew and the communities it visits.