Port-bound cruise industry looks at overseas sailings
South Florida’s cruise industry continues to feel the pandemic’s wrath as US port departure cancellations are extended through November.
Earlier this month, Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line announced extended cancelations as they continue to monitor and measure science-backed protocols.
“We know that this is very disappointing to our guests who continue to be eager to sail, and we remain committed to working with the administration and the CDC to find a workable solution that best serves the interest of public health,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “While we have not made plans to move Carnival Cruise Line ships outside of our US homeports, we may have no choice but to do so to resume our operations, which have been on ‘pause’ for over a year.”
Carnival-booked guests and travel advisors are being notified directly of the cancellations and the options for a future cruise credit plus onboard credit package, or a full refund.
Florida and its ports are the centers of the US cruise industry. In 2019, over 8.2 million passengers, accounting for about 59% of all US embarkations, boarded their cruises from one of Florida’s five cruise ports generating an estimated $9.04 billion in direct spending, according to the Cruise Lines International Association’s cruise industry economic impact report.
The cruise line industry generated 158,992 jobs and over $8.06 in wages. Tourism-related businesses including travel agencies, airlines, hotels, restaurants and providers of ground transportation are major beneficiaries of the cruise industry, the report continued.
Norwegian Cruise Line announced only select Greek Isles and Caribbean itineraries beginning July 25. Along with the limited European cruises announcement, Norwegian canceled all US cruises through Nov. 7.
“Given the ever-evolving nature of the pandemic, the accelerating rollout of the vaccine, and the speed of scientific learnings, it is premature to make decisions about our health and safety protocols for cruises with embarkation dates beginning Nov. 1,” said Harry Sommer, Norwegian’s president and CEO.
Royal Caribbean Group is extending its suspension sailings in the US until June 30, while continuing its measured return to service with more sailings scheduled from different regions around the world.
“Safety is the first priority, and we know that cruising can be safe, as we have seen in Europe and Asia,” said Richard D. Fain, Royal Caribbean Group chairman and CEO. “The rising number of Americans who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, layered on top of the rigorous health and safety measures we are implementing under the Healthy Sail Panel’s guidance, enables us to create a safe environment to take a cruise.”