Skip to content

Cruises likely to be canceled into July as CDC issues extended 'no-sail' order

April 10, 2020
7 min read
Cruises likely to be canceled into July as CDC issues extended 'no-sail' order
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.

It looks like cruising will be on hold well into the summer -- at least in North America.

Citing the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late Thursday issued an extended "no-sail" order for cruise ships operating out of U.S. ports that could remain in effect into July.

The CDC said the order would stay in place for at least 100 days unless the U.S. government determines the coronavirus outbreak is no longer a public health emergency. The order also can be rescinded or modified in advance of 100 days by the CDC director.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Assuming the order is not rescinded, its 100-day timetable will mean a continued shutdown to cruising involving U.S. ports through at least the middle of July.

The order also requires cruise lines to develop a plan within the next seven days to "prevent, mitigate and respond to" the spread of the new coronavirus on cruise ships.

“The measures we are taking today to stop the spread of COVID-19 are necessary to protect Americans," CDC director Robert Redfield said in a statement accompanying the announcement.

The order is likely to result in another wave of cruise cancellations. Most cruise lines have only canceled sailings into May. A few lines, such as Viking, have canceled voyages through June.

Related: Here's why you shouldn't take a voucher if your cruise is canceled

Sign up for our daily newsletter

The "no-sail" order extends an initial, 30-day prohibition on cruising out of U.S. ports that the CDC issued on March 14. The initial order came as some lines already were shutting down operations due to the coronavirus outbreak. Viking announced a suspension to operations on March 11; Princess Cruises followed on March 12 and most other lines followed a day later.

A spokesperson for the world's biggest cruise company, Carnival Corp., did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a short statement sent to The Points Guy, the world's second biggest cruise company, Royal Caribbean Cruises, said it was studying the order.

"We are aware of the CDC order and are studying how best to respond to its provisions," the Royal Caribbean Cruises statement said. "Our global sailings are currently suspended through May 11."

Together, Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruises operate more than a dozen of the world's best-known cruise brands. They account for more than half of all cruises taken worldwide.

The CDC's new order, which was nine pages long, hinted at U.S. government frustration with cruise lines.

In a section titled "critical need for further cooperation and response planning," the agency suggested an initial response plan drafted by the cruise industry for the CDC in March and a new response plan submitted on April 3 had significant shortcomings.

The new response plan that the CDC has ordered the cruise industry to produce in the next seven days "must go further to reduce industry reliance on government and shoreside hospital resources," the CDC said.

The CDC said the new plan must have further details of how the industry will provide for the acute care needs of critically ill passengers and crew on ships. It also must address laboratory sampling and testing of sick people on ships, onboard mitigation and prevention strategies, disinfection protocols, personal protective equipment, repatriation of foreign nationals and onshore transportation, including through contract medevac helicopters.

The agency also said the industry needs to spell out how it proposes "to acquire, staff and operationalize this plan with minimal burden on federal, state or local government entities or the healthcare system."

The main trade group for the cruise industry, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), defended the industry's proposals to date in a statement sent to The Points Guy.

"Our industry has taken responsibility for protecting public health on board cruise ships for more than 50 years, working under the guidance and direction of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and others," the statement said. "To this end, the industry has proactively submitted proposals that are far reaching in prevention, detection, and care—and, importantly, would be led and funded by the industry."

In its statement, CLIA also expressed concern over "the unintended consequences of the order in its singling out an industry that has been proactive in its escalation of health and sanitation protocols, including the aforementioned proposals, as well as transparent in its reporting despite numerous challenges beyond the industry’s control."

CLIA said a shutdown of the cruise industry lasting for a year could cause the loss of 343,000 jobs.

In issuing the order, the CDC referenced some out-of-service cruise vessels around U.S. waters that are experiencing coronavirus outbreaks, which it called a public health concern. It also suggested the outbreaks had become a burden on the U.S. healthcare system.

Related: Big cruise companies can survive shutdown lasting many months, analyst says

The agency said it was aware of 20 out-of-service cruise ships at U.S. ports or anchorages with known or suspected cases of COVID-19 among the crew who remain on board. That's out of approximately 100 out-of-service cruise vessels in U.S. waters.

The agency said nearly 80,000 crew remain on board the 100 vessels.

"There are several public health concerns when crew members become ill," the CDC said. "As we have seen with the passenger illness response on cruise ships, safely evacuating, triaging and repatriating cruise ship crew has involved complex logistics, incurs financial costs at all levels of government and diverts resources away from larger efforts to suppress or mitigate COVID-19."

The transfer of sick cruise ship crew to U.S. medical facilities "also places healthcare workers at substantial increased risk," the agency said.

The U.S. Coast Guard in recent days has been involved in the medical evacuation of crew from several cruise ships in U.S. waters, and sick crew have been brought to U.S. hospitals.

"The intensive care requirements for infected crew in need of life-critical care greatly stresses an already overburdened healthcare system facing shortages of masks, test kits, beds and ventilators needed to respond to COVID-19," the CDC added.

The CDC noted that some of the crew on cruise ships in U.S. waters are not critical to maintain the seaworthiness or basic safe operation of the vessels.

The new "no-sail" order does not apply to cruise vessels designed to carry fewer than 250 people (passengers and crew combined). That means a handful of lines that specialize in sailings on very small ships such as Alaska cruise specialist UnCruise Adventures could resume sailings sooner than July.

UnCruise Adventures vessels hold just 22 to 86 passengers.

Additional resources for traveling during the coronavirus outbreak:

Featured image by A Royal Caribbean vessel at sea. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 5X points
5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 150,000 points120,000 points
The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Good, Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Apply for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.