According to a well-connected source, US cruise lines do not intend to sail again until 2021.
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Rumors Suggest Cruise Lines Postponed Further
According to a very well-connected industry source, the major cruise lines serving US ports will not resume sailings until at least 2021. While the source couldn’t disclose specific information (as they did not have the approval to make any official announcements), the source indicated that no cruise line for which they are aware intends to operate before 2021 at the very earliest.
No Official Announcement
The US government blocked cruise lines from disembarking in the US and serving US ports. The initial stoppage occurred shortly after the first outbreaks of COVID-19 in the spring and has extended several times, the latest through September.
There has been no further announcement beyond the end of September from the CDC with respect to official restrictions. The rumor suggests that it is coming from the cruise lines and not the State Department.
Whenever Cruises Restart, They Will Be Empty Initially
Whether the cruise lines start in October/November/December, or even March of 2021, initial bookings will be light. There are two reasons for this. First is that the public will need to be convinced that ships are safe for those concerned about contracting COVID-19, or heaven forbid, COVID-20 (or whatever mutation we see in the coming seasons.)
Cruise lines will need to be creative to get passengers booked on ships again. It could be in the form of discounts, incentives, and likely a reduced rollout.
Like the airlines, the cruise companies will have to at some point sail knowing that empty cabins will be more common than filled cabins. It’s not possible to fully consolidate sailings and destinations to fill ships fuller because of the myriad of destinations, timelines, and coordinating with other governments who may have a number of differing requirements for accepting passengers.
Airlines, in contrast, have mostly the same guidelines domestically and can consolidate some flying and eliminate other destinations but they have to maintain a routine schedule in order to have any passengers at all. Cruise passengers who may have wanted to visit many destinations over a two-week period may have to settle for shorter routes to nearby destinations.
While it’s only a rumor, it seems highly plausible that cruises will not sail in the rest of 2020 and perhaps a few months into 2021. There are simply too many moving parts with both US and foreign governmental restrictions. Customers will also need to be reassured that cruises are safe and that the experience onboard will be one that they want to take.
What do you think? Do you think the rumor is true? Would you sail in the next 60-90 days?