U.S. cruise ships with approved COVID-19 mitigation plans could be allowed to sail as soon as Nov. 1, but most cruisers won’t be packing bags to sail anywhere any time soon.
The “no sail” order imposed on the cruise ship industry in March by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been extended until Oct. 31.
“For the cruise industry, that’s good news, it means they can start preparing their ships for eventually starting to sail, at least officially Nov. 1… but for all practical purposes, the cruise lines have been preparing not to sail until the beginning of the first quarter of 2021,” said Peter Greenberg, CBS News travel editor.
Before sailing, ships must submit health safety plans; and many companies have already announced changes that passengers will see, including robust testing of crew members and passengers, enhanced cleaning protocols, social distancing and the end of the traditional buffet.
There could be a limited number of cruises at year’s end.
“There may be one or two Christmas sails, one or two sails in the Galapagos or maybe the Caribbean … but most cruise ships have adjusted their sailing schedules to start after the first of the year and in many cases not until March 2021,” Greenberg said.
While most cruise ships remain moored, faithful cruisers are looking forward to the open waters.
“The cruise lines have been aggressively booking for 2021 and 2022, and they’re reporting robust sales because they have a deep reservoir of past cruisers who are very loyal,” Greenberg said.
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