When the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Oct. 30 that it was officially letting its No Sail Order expire, it also reported that cruises would begin a phased return to U.S. waters and ports this week.
While at the time no dates or time frames were given as to when regular paying passengers would be allowed to cruise again, it now looks like it won't be anytime soon. On Monday, Nov. 2—just one day into the ability to resume operations in U.S. waters—Carnival Corporation, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean all released statements saying they were canceling and suspending U.S. sailings through the rest of 2020.
The next day, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), whose member lines cover roughly 95 percent of all ocean-going sailings globally, slipped out an announcement that all of its members—which includes the three major lines listed above as well as Disney, Princess, Holland America, Crystal Cruises, and Cunard—pledged to suspend operations until 2021.
In a statement, CLIA said that their decision to pause cruises "will provide additional time to align the industry’s extensive preparation of health protocols with the implementation requirements under the CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing and Initial Phase COVID-19 Testing Requirements for Protection of Crew."
“As we continue to plan for a gradual and highly-controlled return of cruise operations in the U.S., CLIA members are committed to implementing stringent measures to address COVID-19 safety, including 100 percent testing of passengers and crew, expanded onboard medical capabilities, and trial sailings, among many others."
This isn’t the first time that cruise lines and CLIA members have hit a voluntary pause on sailings. The association announced its first voluntary pause on ship operations back in March, nearly a week before the CDC announced its initial No Sail Order. Although understandably critical about industry effects of the CDC’s No Sail Order, there are several instances where cruise ships have taken it upon themselves to cancel or suspend sailings during the pandemic in order to maintain the safety of passengers, crew, and local communities.