| USA TODAY
Cruises: What will they look like during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Cruise Lines International Association, which represents 95% of the cruise industry, introduced mandatory requirements to be able to set sail again.
On the heels of the CDC’s “no-sail” order extension, Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. have canceled sailings through November, a month past the order’s expiration date.
Royal Caribbean Group which is the parent company to cruise lines including flagship Royal Caribbean International, Azamara, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises, on Tuesday extended its suspension of operations through November 30.
There was one exception to the cancellation: Cruises in Hong Kong are not canceled in November.
However, Celebrity and Azamara have canceled additional sailings. Celebrity Cruises suspended its full 2020/2021 winter program in Australia and Asia and likewise Azamara canceled its 2020/2021 winter sailings in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South America, according to a news release on the company’s website.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s parent company, which also owns Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, announced Monday that it suspended all cruises through Nov. 30.
Norwegian Holdings said in a news release that it will “continue to work in tandem with global government and public health authorities and its Healthy Sail Panel expert advisors to take all necessary measures to protect its guests, crew and the communities visited.”
It advised guests with reservations on any of its cruise lines to contact Norwegian or their travel agent for more details.
Norwegian and Royal Caribbean aren’t the only major cruise companies to cancel cruises beyond the restart date. On Oct. 1, Carnival Cruise Line announced it scrubbed all remaining 2020 cruises except those sailing out of its home ports in Florida, and even those aren’t a sure thing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requested that its “no sail” order be extended to Feb. 15, 2021, but compromised with the White House Coronavirus Task Force to let it run out Oct. 31, four days before the election Nov. 3, a person familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly told USA TODAY Sept. 29, one day before the order had been set to expire. The CDC order originally suspended cruising in U.S. waters beginning in mid-March and has been extended multiple times.
Last month, the Cruise Lines International Association, the trade group that represents 95% of the world’s oceangoing passenger ships, unveiled a list of mandatory health and safety changes designed to make it safe to sail during the COVID-19 pandemic – ideally with a phased-in U.S. start before the end of the year.
CLIA’s mandatory “Core Elements of Health Protocols” includes crew and passenger testing, mask wearing, enhanced cruise ship ventilation, stringent response procedures and shore excursion protocols.
The new protocols will apply to all CLIA member vessels that can carry 250 or more passengers. CLIA, which voluntarily suspended sailing in the USA until Nov. 1, requires each cruise company’s CEO to provide written verification that the elements are being applied to their individual fleets, according to a news release shared by Bari Golin-Blaugrund, vice president of strategic communications and public affairs for CLIA.