Growing number of luxury cruise lines confirm further pause in operations

A number of luxury cruise lines have extended their pause on sailings until the end of the year as the world continues to grapple with the effects of Covid-19.

The North American brands of Carnival Corporation, which include luxury lines Cunard and Seabourn, and those of rival Royal Caribbean Group, which include Celebrity, Azamara and Silversea, confirmed they would be extending their suspension of operations until December 31.

Virgin Voyages also confirmed last week that it would not be sailing until 2021, with the line cancelling all December cruises on its first ship, Scarlet Lady.

Global ocean cruising has been shut down since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with many lines already cancelling cruises well into 2021.

Last week, the US cleared the way for cruise ships to resume sailing in American waters from November 1, but have yet to confirm when paying passengers will be allowed on board. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ‘Framework for Conditional Sailing Order’ will see cruise lines operate itineraries with no passengers on board to demonstrate the effectiveness of Covid-19 prevention measures and compliance with CDC measures.

Confirming the extension of the pause in operations of its North American brands from December 1 until December 31, Carnival Corporation chief executive Arnold Donald, said: “Our highest responsibility and top priorities are always compliance, protecting the environment, and the health, safety and well-being of our guests, the people in communities we touch, our crew and shoreside employees.

“We continue to work with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and global government and public health authorities, as well as top medical and science experts around the globe, on a comprehensive plan for the eventual restart of cruising in North America.

“With their collective guidance, we have developed and continue to update our enhanced health and safety protocols that are in the best interest of our guests, crew and overall public health.

“Whenever we restart our cruise operations in the US, we certainly look forward to welcoming our guests on board.”

The date for restarting cruise operations will be communicated by each respective brand and available on their websites, Carnival Corporation said.

“The company and its brands are also notifying crew members, travel professionals and other stakeholders,” the group added.

Meanwhile a statement from Royal Caribbean Group said: “Our primary goal continues to be a healthy return to service for our guests, crew and the communities we visit.

“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 December 31, 2020, excluding sailings from Singapore.

“Celebrity Cruises has already suspended their full 2020-21 winter programme in Australia and Asia.

“Additionally, Azamara has suspended their 2020-21 winter sailings throughout Australia and New Zealand, South Africa and South America.

“We will be reaching out to our guests and travel partners to share further details and address any questions or concerns they may have.”

Welcoming the CDC’s pathway for return to service announced on Friday, RCG said:

“While we are eager to welcome our guests back on board, we have a lot to do between now and then, and we’re committed to taking the time to do things right.

“This includes training our crew in new health and safety protocols and conducting a number of trial sailings to stress-test those protocols in real-world conditions.”

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