We might be just weeks away from a restart to North American cruising
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Are we just weeks away from a restart of cruising in North America?
The leaders of the world’s biggest cruise companies were optimistic about the possibility on Tuesday during the keynote opening session of Seatrade Cruise Virtual, an online version of the cruise industry’s annual meetup.
“My confidence level, or my optimism level, is very high,” Royal Caribbean Group chairman and CEO Richard Fain said when asked about the probability that cruising from the U.S. would resume by the end of the year.
For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s new cruise newsletter.
Carnival Corporation president and CEO Arnold Donald said his optimism level that cruising out of U.S. ports would resume by year’s end was at a “4.5 or 4.9” on a 5-point scale.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings president and CEO Frank Del Rio also was relatively upbeat about the possibility, though he was a tad less definitive.
“It’s coming soon,” Del Rio said of a North American restart. He suggested a timeline that might see cruising at his brands resume in late December or early January.
“Whether it’s (on) Dec. 22 or Jan. 3, I think we’re in the ballpark.”
All of the executives noted the progress the industry had made in recent months developing new health and safety procedures to keep COVID-19 off ships when cruising resumes. The procedures include mandatory COVID tests for all passengers and crew, limitations on touring in ports and social distancing requirements on vessels.
“I think we have put together … a set of procedures that really puts us in a position to say, ‘yes, we can now come to the point where we can provide a healthy cruise,” Fain said. “We’re going to do it slowly; we’re going to start with test cruises, and then a few shorter cruises, and gradually build up as we build up our experience. (But) I do think that is going to start this year.”
More Seatrade news: One cruise line may never bring back the buffet
Royal Caribbean Group is the parent company of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea. Carnival Corporation is the parent company of Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America, Seabourn and five overseas brands.
The executives noted that a few hurdles remain to restarting cruising in North America before year’s end, the biggest of which is convincing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to lift its “no-sail” order for cruise ships in U.S. waters.
More Seatrade news: One cruise line is making plans to take you to Chernobyl
The order currently is scheduled to expire on Oct. 30 but could be extended.
Even if the CDC doesn’t extend the order into November or December, getting ships back into operation isn’t a rapid process, Del Rio said.
“People have to understand that it takes time to stand up a ship, especially ships that have been now laid up for six-plus months,” Del Rio said. “It is not turning on a light switch.”
Del Rio noted that before Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings can restart sailings, it will have to repatriate crew to its ships and also make a number of onboard changes to comply with COVID-related health and safety policies that the industry is implementing.
“We believe that it will take at least 60 days to stand up a vessel,” he said, suggesting that was the reason the company on Monday canceled all of its November sailings.
“If you just count (the days) with your fingers … it’s literally impossible for us to operate in the month of November. Perhaps others can or will, but we’re looking at post-November as a potential start date if everything else comes along.”
Royal Caribbean, Carnival and several other major brands still have sailings on their schedules for November. Carnival in recent days canceled most of its departures through early January but kept November and December sailings on its schedule out of two Florida ports: PortMiami and Port Canaveral.
The executives noted they wouldn’t start back up until they believe they can do so safely.
“We’re eager to get back into work,” Fain said. “But we’re not going to do it until we’re all confident that it is safe and healthy.”
Fain suggested that the resumption of some cruising in Europe in recent months had given his company increased confidence that they can restart cruising safely in North America.
“The sailings in Europe, which have been so successful, also serve as a test for us,” he said. “We can see what’s happened, (and) we can see what’s working.”
Fain said the company’s objective since it started planning for a cruising comeback was to “do this in a way that makes being on a ship as safe or safer than being in your home town.”
To do that, he noted, cruise lines plan to do some extraordinary things, he said. He specifically called out the plan to have all passengers tested for COVID-19 before boarding.
“No other travel industry (segment) does it,” he said. “Not airlines. Nothing. I don’t know of any other industry in the world that does 100% testing.”
Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:
- The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
- The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
- A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
- 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
- 15 ways cruisers waste money
- 12 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
- What to pack for your first cruise
Featured image courtesy of Royal Caribbean
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees