A number of ocean-going cruise lines said they will voluntarily suspend cruise operations from U.S. ports until September 15 due to COVID-19, industry body Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced Friday.
The extended operational pause goes well beyond the current no sail order issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) set to expire on July 24.
“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,” said CLIA, whose membership includes some of the world's largest cruise lines such as Carnival Corp, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises.
Major operators began suspending cruises in March after repeated instances of coronavirus transmission among passengers at sea—including several onboard outbreaks that turned deadly. With voyages at a virtual standstill due to the global health crisis, cruise lines have been among the companies hardest hit by COVID-19.
CLIA said the latest voluntary suspension applies to members that operate vessels with capacity to carry 250 persons or more. The trade group said it will asses whether a further extension is necessary.
“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,” the trade association said. “The additional time will also allow us to consult with the CDC on measures that will be appropriate for the eventual resumption of cruise operations.”