5 more major cruise lines cancel sailings into March and April

Dec 2, 2020

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You’ll now have to wait until at least March to take a cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean or Celebrity Cruises and at least April to sail with Oceania Cruises or Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, on Wednesday canceled all the brand’s sailings through the end of February and the majority of its March voyages. It also canceled all sailings through the end of March at Oceania and Regent, which it also owns.

Royal Caribbean Group, the parent company of Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, on Wednesday canceled all sailings at both of those brands through the end of February, with the exception of a handful of Royal Caribbean cruises in Asia. The latter sailings will be open to local residents only.

Until today, for the most part, the companies only had canceled sailings through the end of December.

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In announcing the cancellations, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean Group are following in the wake of industry giant Carnival Corp., which already has canceled a wide swath of sailings into February and beyond.

Carnival Corp.’s Carnival Cruise Line brand has canceled all sailings through the end of January and many February sailings. The company’s Princess Cruises and Holland America brands have canceled all sailings through the end of March. Carnival Corp.’s Seabourn brand also has canceled sailings well into 2021.

The latest round of cancellations have come since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in late October issued a road map for a return to cruising in U.S. waters that suggested it could be many months before cruising would be allowed to resume.

Related: How to book a cruise with points and miles 

Norwegian Cruise Line's 3,998-passenger Norwegian Encore. (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)
Norwegian Cruise Line operates some of the world’s biggest cruise ships including the 3,998-passenger Norwegian Encore. (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

The CDC road map for a resumption of cruising in U.S. waters, issued as a “framework for conditional sailing” order, includes a testing period for new anti-COVID protocols on ships that could extend well into January. After that, cruise operators can apply for what the CDC is calling a Conditional Sailing Certificate in a process that could take an additional 60 days.

Assuming the CDC sticks to the guidelines that it has laid out in the order, it could be March or April, at the earliest, before cruising resumes out of U.S. ports.

The recent rounds of cancellations also come in the wake of a spike in COVID-19 case counts in both Europe and North America. The U.S. in recent days has been recording more than 150,000 new coronavirus cases per day, on average.

Related: A preview of new COVID-related cruise restrictions    

Cruising has resumed in a very limited way in recent months in parts of Europe, led by Europe-based lines such as MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises and TUI Cruises. A handful of lines in other parts of the world including French Polynesia also have resumed limited sailings. 

But a surge of COVID cases in Europe that began in the late summer, and resulting lockdowns in some countries, has prompted many ocean and river lines operating there to shut back down.

The CDC’s recent order suggested that the epidemiologists at the agency continue to see cruise ships as places that are inherently more likely to be hot spots for COVID-19 transmission than other settings.

“Current scientific evidence suggests that, absent mitigation measures of the type needed to prevent further transmission, cruise ships would continue to pose a greater risk of COVID-19 transmission than other settings,” the order said.

Related: These 9 cruise lines have resumed limited sailings

All cruise lines around the world halted departures in March as the coronavirus outbreak grew and many have yet to restart operations. Celebrity, Norwegian, Oceania and Regent are among the lines that haven’t operated a single departure since March.

Due to the CDC’s recent order and earlier “no-sail” orders, there has been almost no cruising since March in North America.

In November, a small line that focuses on small-ship cruising, SeaDream Yacht Club, attempted to restart cruises in the Caribbean out of Barbados on a single ship, the 112-passenger SeaDream 1. But its plans were derailed after a COVID outbreak on the first sailing.

In the wake of the new cancellations at Norwegian Cruise Line, just three of the line’s 17 ships are now scheduled to sail in March.

Norwegian already had canceled March sailings for three vessels: Norwegian Star, Norwegian Spirit and Norwegian Dawn. The new cancellations announced Wednesday include March sailings on the following 11 ships: Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Sky, Norwegian Sun and Pride of America.

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Featured image courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

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