Cruises will not sail in US waters until October after CDC extends its 'no-sail' order
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have announced an additional extension to their "no-sail order" which is now set to expire on Sept. 30.
The order will remain in effect until the end of September unless the CDC director rescinds or modifies the order or the secretary of Health and Human Services declares that COVID-19 is no longer a public health emergency, according to the CDC's announcement.
Previously, the CDC's order had been set to expire on July 24.
In their announcement, the CDC revealed that between March 1 and July 10, data showed 2,973 cases of COVID-19 or "COVID-like" illnesses emerged on cruise ships, with 34 deaths. During that period, there were 99 outbreaks on 123 cruise ships meaning that 80% of U.S. jurisdiction ships were impacted. Nine of those cruise ships are still dealing with coronavirus outbreaks on board.
Those numbers don't include the Diamond Princess, which made headlines around the world due to its coronavirus outbreak, which infected more than 700 people and killed at least nine (though Johns Hopkins data puts the figure at a minimum of 13). The ship's captain was the last person to depart the ship on March 1.
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The industry already had suspended operations until Sept. 15
On June 19, Cruise Lines International Association, the leading trade organization for the cruise industry, said its member cruise lines would voluntarily extend the suspension of U.S. cruise operations until Sept. 15 as the coronavirus pandemic continues to play out.
The trade organization's member lines carry 95% of the world's ocean-going cruisers. Like the CDC order, it applies to vessels that can carry 250 or more passengers.
"Although we had hoped that cruise activity in the U.S. 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," Bari Golin-Blaugrund, senior director for strategic communications, told USA TODAY, noting the organization informed the CDC of its continued voluntary suspension.
The CLIA extension came with a caveat: The suspension will be continually reevaluated as Sept. 15 approaches and may be extended further, Golin-Blaugrund said.
"We want the traveling public to know in no uncertain terms that when we do resume operations in the U.S., it will be with the confidence that we have the necessary protocols and systems in place, and that we have done so with the input of the CDC," she added.
CLIA did not extend its own sailing suspension. Instead, the organization will simply align with CDC's extension, Bari Golin-Blaugrund told USA TODAY.
"As we continue to work towards the development of enhanced protocols to support the safe resumption of cruise operations around the world, we look forward to timely and productive dialogue with the CDC to determine measures that will be appropriate for ocean-going cruise operations to resume in the United States when the time is right," she said.
Some lines already shut down through or past Sept. 30
Even before Thursday's announcement, some lines had been proactive about their suspensions, pushing their restart dates beyond CLIA's previously set expiration date – some well into fall.
Cruise giants, Norwegian , Royal Caribbean and Carnival Corp. and many of their subsidiaries have extended their suspensions through Sept. 30.
Carnival Cruise Line and Princess Cruises also announced schedule changes and ship repositionings, causing a domino effect that resulted in the cancellation of at least 30 cruises, some into the winter.
Canada won't see cruise ships until November
In May, Canada announced it would not accept cruise ships through Oct. 31.
The country banned cruises and ferries carrying more than 100 people with overnight capacity from operating in its waters.
EU is looking ahead to resuming cruises
At the beginning of July, the EU released 49 pages worth of interim guidance for the cruise industry to adhere tas cruising begins to resume, the same day it announced Americans would be barred from entering.
With the EU's guidance in hand, some lines have begun making plans to hit the high seas once more. Carnival Corp.'s German subsidiary, AIDA Cruises, for example, will begin sailing again in August. And Norwegian line Hurtigruten has already had its first international cruise since the pandemic.