Those in the US who wish to embark on a cruise will have to wait until 15 September, as members of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) have decided to voluntarily extend the period of suspended passenger operations from US ports in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A colorful beach cabana with the Holland American cruise ship at sea in the background
The cruise industry supported over 421,000 jobs in the US in 2018 © Caribbean/Alamy Stock Photo

Although the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decreed that the suspension period for vessels with capacity to carry 250 persons or more would be effective until 24 July, members of CLIA have revealed that it has become increasingly clear to them that more time will be needed to resolve barriers to resuming cruise sailings from the US. “Although we are confident that future cruises will be healthy and safe, and will fully reflect the latest protective measures, we also feel that it is appropriate to err on the side of caution to help ensure the best interests of our passengers and crew members," it says.

Members of CLIA include Carnival, Disney, Holland America Line, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Princess Cruises. The additional time will also allow the cruise lines to consult with the CDC on measures that will be appropriate for the eventual resumption of cruise operations. It is not a decision that has been taken lightly, as according to CLIA, the cruise industry supported over 421,000 jobs in the US in 2018. It says that every day of suspension of cruise operations results in a total loss of approximately $110m (€97.4m) in economic activity and up to 800 American jobs.

Ferries traveling on a river towards Lake Michigan before the Chicago skyline
Cruise companies feel that it is appropriate to err on the side of caution © elesi/Shutterstock

It is understandable that cruise companies would err on the side of caution. When COVID-19 started spreading throughout the world earlier this year, passengers and crew on multiple cruise ships were quarantined when outbreaks began, and 712 of 3711 people on board the Diamond Princess ship ultimately tested positive for the virus. Further updates from CLIA can be found here.

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