American cruise lines will suspend ocean cruises until at least the end of October as coronavirus cases continue to pop up in the industry.
A Norwegian cruise ship line halted all trips and apologized Monday for procedural errors after a coronavirus outbreak on one ship infected at least five passengers and 36 crew. Health authorities fear the ship also could have spread the virus to dozens of towns and villages along Norway’s western coast.
On Wednesday, the Cruise Lines International Association, which represents cruise lines around the world, announced cruise lines that operate in the U.S. would suspend ocean cruises until at least Oct. 31. This marks the third voluntary suspension for U.S. cruise operations. The previous suspension was set to expire in mid-September.
There is a no-sail order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also in affect until Sept 30.
“This is a difficult decision as we recognize the crushing impact that this pandemic has had on our community and every other industry,: the CLIA said in a statement. “However, we believe this proactive action further demonstrates the cruise industry’s commitment to public health and willingness to voluntarily suspend operations in the interest of public health and safety, as has occurred twice prior. 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. 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.”
Cruise lines stopped sailing in mid-March after several high-profile coronavirus outbreaks at sea. More than 710 people fell ill aboard Carnival's Diamond Princess cruise ship while it was quarantined off Japan and 13 people died.
The CLIA, which represents more than 50 companies and 95% of global cruise capacity, said the resumption of cruises has been extremely limited so far. The voyages taking place must have approval from and follow the requirements of national governments, it said.
The U.S. cruise industry represents nearly $53 billion in economic activity yearly and more than 200,000 U.S. jobs, according to a recent CLIA economic impact study.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.