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Cruise lines say they won’t sail until 2021

CDC officials say cruise lines now have to wait until Dec. 31 before starting back up

Photo (c) KenWiedemann - Getty Images
On the heels of the CDC’s lifting of its No Sail Order, the biggest cruise brands are getting all their safety and health ducks in a row. Most have pushed back their resumption dates to 2021 to give them ample time to prepare. 

ConsumerAffairs research on what cruise lines are pressing pause includes just about everyone. Here’s the full list as of Tuesday in alphabetical order:

Azamara -- the company has suspended its 2020/21 winter sailings (March, April, May) throughout Australia & New Zealand, South Africa, and South America but had not listed any other blackout or reopening dates for 2021 as of Tuesday morning

Carnival Cruise Line -- operations paused until December 31.

Celebrity Cruises -- the company put its full 2020-2021 winter program in Australia and Asia on the shelf, but it had not listed any other blackout or reopening dates for 2021 as of Tuesday morning.

Cunard North America -- operations paused until December 31.

Disney -- Sailings are cancelled on board the Disney Fantasy through December 26; Disney Wonder and Disney Magic through December 30; and the Disney Dream through December 31.

Holland America -- operations paused until December 31.

MSC Cruises -- operations paused until December 31. 

Norwegian Cruise Line -- operations paused until December 31.

Oceania -- operations paused until December 31.

Princess Cruises -- operations paused until December 31.

Regent Seven Seas -- operations paused until December 31.

Royal Caribbean Group -- the company will be extending its suspension of sailings -- except for those out of Singapore -- until December 31.

Seabourn -- operations paused until December 31.

If you have an existing reservation

Travelers who have cruises in limbo can expect the cruise lines to reach out to guests and travel partners to provide further details and address any questions or concerns they may have. Depending on the cruise line, there may also be options regarding refunds or allowable date changes for travelers holding reservations. 

As examples, Celebrity Cruises is extending its “Cruise with Confidence” program, which gives guests who have booked travel by November 20 the flexibility to cancel their cruise up to 48 hours prior to sailing and receive a full credit of the cruise fare paid for a future cruise through May 4, 2022. The cruise company will also continue to offer their “Best Price Guarantee” and “Lift and Shift.” 

At Disney, booked guests with coronavirus-related health concerns (symptoms or exposure) can receive a full refund without Disney-imposed cancellation fees, and they can apply their cruise fare toward a future sail date. They just have to apply for that refund within 14 days of the sailing.

CDC backs up start-up date

You may be asking why the cruise lines have to wait until December 31 to resume sailing if the CDC completely lifted the No Sail Order. Well, as they say, the devil’s in the details, and there was a little footnote buried deep into the agency’s Conditional Sail Order that most travel pundits glossed over. 

In laying out all of the paperwork each cruise line has to provide before the CDC will let them back out on the seas, the agency footnoted that checklist by saying, “These materials should be submitted at least 60 calendar days prior to the date on which the cruise ship operator proposes to commence restricted passenger operations.” That 60 calendar day waiting period effectively ends on December 31, 2020.

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