While some businesses are starting to open at reduced capacity to factor in social distancing recommendations, the cruise industry is facing a prolonged pause.
Canada is banning cruises and ferries carrying more than 100 people with overnight capacity in its waters through Oct. 31. British cruise line P&O Cruises, a Carnival subsidiary, is canceling all its sailings until Oct. 15. Royal Caribbean also announced it would cancel sailings to Alaska, Canada and New England through October.
All cruising is on hold until July at the earliest, per a mandate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The “No Sail Order” Began March 14 and has been extended several times.
The cruise industry contributes some $53 billion to the U.S. economy each year, and represents more than 421,000 American jobs, according to the Cruise Lines International Association. Before the pandemic, 30 million guests were expected to sail this year.
Meanwhile, Norwegian Cruise Lines plans to resume sailing Aug. 1 with a new health initiative called “Peace of Mind.” Guests and crew members will face an enhanced pre-embarkation health screening, in addition to temperature checks and monitoring during the trip.
Such checks will occur before meals in dining venues and activities in public venues. Guests can also expect a new air filtration system and the inclusion of testing kits and more medical supplies on board, including more medications to treat symptoms of COVID-19.
NCL President and CEO Harry Sommer sent a letter to past guests detailing the new procedures.
“We have spent the past months working with experts in their respective fields, world-leading safety vendors and our internal safety and medical teams, to ensure your safety,” Sommer wrote.“Moving forward, we expect to implement additional safety measures as we continue working with the CDC, global health organizations and domestic and international government agencies.”
Other major cruise lines such as Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises and MSC Cruises have not yet announced health protocols for passenger cruises.
An ongoing Miami Herald investigation has confirmed COVID-19 cases linked to 63 ships, nearly one-fourth of the global ocean cruise fleet.
The newspaper interviewed five doctors, three of whom treated COVID-19 patients on cruise ships, about what cruise companies can do to keep passengers and crew safe if companies resume operations before a vaccine is available.
They recommend cruises operate at 50% capacity, test passengers for COVID-19 before boarding, stay within 500 miles of land, and provide ships with more medical staff and ventilators.