Additional Delays for Return of Cruising in North America

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The resurgence of the coronavirus across the southern United States is causing the North American cruise industry to delay plans for its return to service. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to announce what actions, if any, it would take regarding cruising and the current no sail order, the individual cruise lines have announced delays to their planned resumption of service.

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line had announced plans to become the first ocean-going cruise line to resume service in North America on July 25 the day after the expiration of the current no sail order. The company, which operates 2-night cruises for the Port of Palm Beach to Grand Bahama Island, however, announced that it would now be delaying its return to service until August 28.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve continued preparations to return to Grand Bahama Island while keeping an eye on the overall landscape, which continues to evolve. In recent days, amidst a spike in COVID-19 cases in many states across the country, we’ve seen mounting pressures to modify reopening plans and consideration of the return of stay-at-home orders,” said Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line CEO Oneil Khosa. “Additionally, new restrictions from the Bahamas have been announced, requiring travelers to present a negative swab test prior to entry. In an effort to provide the safest environment for our passengers and crew, we have no choice but to further postpone our sailing schedule.”

Carnival Cruise Line had also targeted a return to service in August with cruises from Florida and Texas. The cruise line, however, announced in June that it was joining the cruise industry extending the pause in operations until the end of September. Carnival Corporation’s CEO Arnold Donald has frequently said that the virus along with people’s interest in travel and willingness to gather in groups would determine when cruising resumes.

In North America, the small ship cruise lines not included in the no sail order had also hoped to resume cruising in during the summer. American Cruise Lines had anticipated starting cruises in the Pacific Northwest sailing on the Columbia and Snake rivers only to have Oregon make a last-minute change in its travel restrictions forcing the postpone of the cruises. Resistance from destinations in Alaska and New England similarly forced cancelations of cruises to those regions while the increased number of cases of the virus reported in Louisiana caused a delay for the Mississippi River cruises. American Cruise Lines is currently targeting resuming service in August.

American Queen Steamboat Company at the end of June also announced a new timeline for the resumption of operations for its vessels. AQSC said its “new timeline was prepared in response to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and following the continued wide-spread governmental restrictions across ports, cities and public institutions.” The company is currently targeting resuming its Pacific Northwest cruises at the beginning of August and by mid-August on the Mississippi River.

While the U.S.’s continuing attempts to combat the virus are delaying a potential resumption of cruising, in Europe cruising is resuming as travel restrictions are lowered after effective virus mitigation efforts. River cruising in Germany was the first to resume followed by ocean cruising from Norway and now France and Germany.

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