The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has further extended a ‘No Sail Order” for cruise ships through 30 September 2020.
This order continues to suspend passenger operations on cruise ships with the capacity to carry at least 250 passengers in waters subject to US jurisdiction.
It follows the 19 June decision by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) to voluntarily extend the suspension of cruise operations from US ports until mid-September.
“In line with CLIA’s announcement of voluntary suspension of operation by its member companies, CDC has extended its No Sail Order to ensure that passenger operations on cruise ships do not resume prematurely,” CDC said.
Numerous COVID-19 cases on cruise vessels
Cumulative CDC data from 1 March through 10 July 2020, shows 2,973 COVID-19 or COVID-like illness cases on cruise ships, in addition to 34 deaths.
These cases were part of 99 outbreaks on 123 different cruise ships, according to the US health protection agency.
During the abovementioned time frame, 80 per cent of ships were affected by COVID-19.
As of 3 July, nine of the 49 ships under the No Sail Order have ongoing or resolving outbreaks. According to U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) data, as of 10 July 2020, there are 67 ships with 14,702 crew onboard.
On cruise ships, passengers and crew share spaces that are more crowded than most urban settings. Even when only essential crew are on board, ongoing spread of COVID-19 still occurs.
If unrestricted cruise ship passenger operations were permitted to resume, passengers and crew on board would be at increased risk of COVID-19 infection and those that work or travel on cruise ships would place substantial unnecessary risk on healthcare workers, port personnel and federal partners, and the communities they return to, CDC further said.
Cruise lines coping with losses, speed up vessel sales
Starting in March, cruise lines around the globe suspended sailings due to travelling restrictions imposed by governments aimed at minimising the spread of the coronavirus.
Voyage cancellations and prolonged vessel layups have been negatively affecting cruise companies’ earnings.
In the quarter ended 31 May 2020, Carnival Corporation & plc., the world’s largest cruise company and the owner of Carnival Cruise Line brand, suffered a net loss of $4.4 billion due to the suspension of cruise operations.
Royal Caribbean Cruises, another cruise line giant, announced earlier this year major job cuts amid the impact of the coronavirus on its business, targeting over 5,000 US employees. In late March, the cruise company also secured a $2.2 billion loan to boost its liquidity position.
Cruise lines are implementing different measures in an effort to reduce operating expenses and improve liquidity. One of such measures is disposing of older vessels.
Carnival Corp. recently announced its plans to offload thirteen ships from its fleet through demolition and sales to curb the impact of the health crisis.
In late June, Carnival’s Costa Cruises sold its 1996-built cruise ship Costa Victoria for demolition in Italy.
Earlier this week, Carnival’s Holland America Line also announced that four of its ships — the 2000-built Amsterdam, the 1993-built Maasdam, the 1997-built Rotterdam and the 1996-built Veendam — will be leaving the fleet and transferring to new owners.
The ships have been sold in pairs, with the S-class Maasdam and Veendam transferring to one company in August 2020, while the R-class Amsterdam and Rotterdam will move to Norwegian company Bonheur ASA in fall 2020.
The latter two will be renamed MS Bolette and MS Borealis and operated by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Bonheur said in a separate statement.