A Carnival Corp. cruise ship. By GETTY IMAGES
The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) announced Friday that its members are voluntarily suspending operations out of U.S. ports through at least September 15, 2020. Among CLIA's members are Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines and the largest cruise ship company in the world, Carnival Corp.
The suspension goes beyond the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's July 24th order, though the CDC as of Saturday had yet to give further guidance. The announcement changes plans for at least Carnival, which had intended to resume some destinations on August 1.
“Although we are confident that future cruises will be healthy and safe, and will fully reflect the latest protective measures, we also feel that it is appropriate to err on the side of caution to help ensure the best interests of our passengers and crew members," CLIA said. "We have therefore decided to further extend our suspension of operations from U.S. ports until 15 September. The additional time will also allow us to consult with the CDC on measures that will be appropriate for the eventual resumption of cruise operations."
“This voluntary suspension applies to all CLIA members to which the No Sail Order applied (vessels with capacity to carry 250 persons or more). CLIA member cruise lines will continually evaluate the evolving situation and make a determination as to whether a further extension is necessary," the association added.
CLIA said the cruise industry supported over 421,000 jobs in the United States in 2018, with every 30 cruisers from U.S. ports supporting one American job. "Each day of the suspension of cruise operations in the U.S. results in a total loss of approximately $110 million in economic activity and up to 800 American jobs," CLIA made known.
The effect of no cruise lines at the West Indian Company and Crown Bay in St. Thomas has been devastating to the Virgin Islands economy — more pointedly in St. Thomas, which relies heavily on tourism. Tourism represents about 60 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands' gross domestic product (GDP), according to the V.I. Department of Tourism.
According to Governor Albert Bryan, a majority of the over 8,000 people who have been laid off in the territory as a result of the coronavirus virus were from the hospitality industry, which St. Thomas is dependent on.
According to WSJ, Carnival reported a preliminary quarterly loss of more than $4 billion, its largest ever, as the Covid-19 pandemic has idled ships, and it warned that it could breach a loan agreement in a prolonged sailing pause.
The cruise operator on Thursday also said it expects to book a loss for the rest of the fiscal year. It has extended sailing pauses to the end of the year on its other units as it faces differing cruising restrictions in various countries.