Holidaymakers with hopes of a cruise holiday face further devastation following a fresh blow to the industry by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The US body has extended its “no-sail ban” for the duration of the summer, meaning cruises due to embark from or sail in US waters will no longer go ahead.
Though the ban was initially in place until September 15, it has since been extended all the way through until October.
Cruises will now not be welcomed back to US waters until September 30 at the earliest when the latest ban is due to lift.
In light of this, The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), a trade group for many of the biggest lines around the world, voluntarily extended its own no sail order.
The CDC explained that the extension of the ban hoped to “ensure that passenger operations on cruise ships do not resume prematurely”.
READ MORE: Cruise news: Voyages in UK waters are banned
Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) have teamed up, along with a team of scientists and medical professionals, to determine the best practices to be put in place.
By the end of August, the “Healthy Sail Panel” will put out its initial recommendations, which can then be used by a number of industries that deem the advice relevant to their operations.
“This unprecedented disease requires us to develop unprecedented standards in health and safety,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group.
“Bringing aboard these respected experts to guide us forward demonstrates our commitment to protecting our guests, our crews and the communities we visit.”
Though the measures have not yet been confirmed, some experts believe these could range from increased social distancing to major amendments to itineraries.
Rob Gower, a travel expert with over 20 years of industry experience, says the focus will be on the “health and well-being of passengers.”
He told Express.co.uk: “As well as new health measures to implement and the need to create some form of social distancing, temperature checking and testing, the other main challenge will be number of passengers that any one cruise liner is able to carry.”
While there is certainly hope in the future, for now, holidaymakers anticipating cruises in the coming months will likely face disappointment.
Many big-name cruise lines are offering full refunds or the opportunity to reschedule to a later date.
In most instances, cruise lines are contacting affected customers directly, and some may even offer additional incentives to encourage guests to rebook their travels at a later date.
Incentives include onboard credit and reductions.