Recent developments indicate that cruise companies were overly ambitious when they announced that they would return to operations in the late summer. In particular, Carnival Cruise Line boldly announced that it would begin sailing again on August 1, only to subsequently backtrack. Now, it seems that cruise cancellations are becoming the industry norm as major lines announce more cancellations into the fall.
USA Today.com reports that Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and MSC have all voluntarily suspended operations until September 15. The suspension will result in dozens more canceled cruises and further put the companies' return to service in doubt. Cruise lines calling on the United States are currently under a prohibition against sailing by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control until July 24. Every indication was that strong demand by potential travelers would entice cruise companies to return to operations as soon as the prohibition expired.
The cancellations likely belie a tough reality: cruise companies are not yet ready to ensure their passengers' safety in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Officials are likely concerned by the stubbornness of the pandemic as evidenced by its resurgence in many U.S. states which have begun to open up in recent weeks.
In fact, Carnival has already announced that it will extend its cancellation even beyond the September 15 date, at least into October.
While coronavirus continues to be a threat, it seems that cruise lines will have to adopt a wait-and-see attitude towards operations and for the near future not sailing may be the norm.