Most if not all deepsea and river cruise operations have been suspended in the light of the spread of COVID-19.
Its rapid spread has resulted in many countries banning cruise vessels and ferries from calling at their ports.
For example, on Friday, US President Donald Trump asked four major cruise operators to voluntarily suspend cruise ship operations from US ports for 30 days.
“At my request, effective midnight tonight (Friday), Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and MSC have all agreed to suspend outbound cruises for 30 days,” Trump said. “It is a great and important industry – it will be kept that way!”
On the same day, Canadian Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, announced that all cruise ships carrying more than 500 pax will be stopped from calling at Canadian ports from 2nd April through 1st July.
The ban will extend throughout Canada’s northern and Arctic ports season and will likely call a halt to Alaskan cruises, which operate both from Canada and the US.
In a statement, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) confirmed that its ocean-going cruise line members will be voluntarily and temporarily suspending cruise ship operations from US ports for 30 days, as public health officials and the US Government continue to address COVID-19.
“CLIA cruise line members are voluntarily and temporarily suspending operations from the US as we work to address this public health crisis,” said Kelly Craighead, CLIA’s President and CEO in a statement. “This is an unprecedented situation. Our industry has taken responsibility for protecting public health for more than 50 years, working under the guidance of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and prides itself on its ability to deliver exceptional vacation experiences for guests, as well as meaningful employment opportunities for crew.
“This has been a challenging time, but we hope that this decision will enable us to focus on the future and a return to normal as soon as possible,” she said.
CLIA member cruise lines are focused on the safe and smooth return of those currently at sea on board ships that will be affected by this decision, the association said.
“We do not take this decision lightly, and we want the travelling public to know in no uncertain terms the commitment of this industry to putting people first,” said Adam Goldstein, CLIA Global Chairman. “During this time, we will continue to work with the CDC and others to prepare for resumption of sailings when it is appropriate. We know the travel industry is a huge economic engine for the US and when our ships once again sail, our industry will be a significant contributor to fuelling the economic recovery.”
The cruise industry is a vital artery for the US economy, CLIA claimed, supporting over 421,000 US jobs, as every 30 cruisers supports one US job, and annually contributes nearly $53 bill to the US economy. Cruise activity supports travel agencies, airlines, hotels and a broad supply chain of industries that stretches across the US.
While most of the larger brands can probably cope with a shutdown financially, there must be question marks hanging over some of the smaller operators, which will lose cash flow and have to reimburse or renegotiate bookings, while still having to maintain their ships in layup and pay staff.
Both Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean International have moved quickly to increase liquidity (see separate story).
In other news, Stena Line has suspended passenger traffic to and from Denmark and Poland until further notice, as on Friday, Danish and Polish authorities announced a temporary closure of their borders, due to the spread of the Coronavirus.
As a result, Stena Line said it will suspend all passengers traffic to these countries until further notice. Shipments of freight will continue for the time being.
In addition, Stena’s operation between Oslo (Norway) and Frederikshavn (Denmark) was fully suspended from 14th March until further notice.
Leading cruise shipbuilder, Italy-based Fincantieri, has also suspended all work for two weeks.