Cruise companies are canceling U.S. cruises until at least Oct. 31.
The industry lobbying group Cruise Lines International Association announced Wednesday that its member lines won’t be coming back until at least that date. In June, the group agreed to cancel U.S. cruises through mid-September, before the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention banned cruises until Oct. 1.
CLIA member companies include Florida-based Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Group, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, MSC Cruises, Disney Cruise Line and Virgin Voyages.
“CLIA cruise line members will continue to monitor the situation with the understanding that we will revisit a possible further extension on or before 30 September 2020,” the group said in a statement. “At the same time, should conditions in the U.S. change and it becomes possible to consider short, modified sailings, we would consider an earlier restart.”
In Bar Harbor, Maine’s No. 1 cruise ship destination thanks to Acadia National Park and other attractions, town leaders canceled cruise ship visits for the year on July 8. The town, which normally gets more than 100 cruise ship visits annually between late April and early November, has had no cruise ship visits this year after the vessels became early hot spots for coronavirus transmission. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had previously barred cruise ships carrying 250 or more passengers from operating in U.S. waters through July 24.
Cruise ships have visited Maine, however. The Oceania Cruises ship Riviera was tied to Eastport’s downtown breakwater pier without any passengers for roughly 45 days while waiting out a federal ‘no-sail’ order. It departed Eastport on Saturday for Europe. Others have stopped in Maine as well.
The latest announcement comes as cruise companies struggle to repatriate crew members, some who have been stuck at sea since mid-March when the industry first shut down, most without pay. Ships continue to experience outbreaks of COVID-19 among crew. There are currently 15 cruise ships in and around U.S. waters with COVID-19 or COVID-like illness, according to the CDC.
Four cruise companies that have started cruising again this summer ― Hurtigruten, Ponant, UnCruise and SeaDream — have been forced to cancel cruises after passengers tested positive this week.
COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. continue to surge. On Wednesday, Florida reached more than 500,000 cases of the disease and 7,627 resident deaths.
Story by Taylor Dolven, Miami Herald.