3 more major cruise lines cancel sailings into October

Jun 17, 2020

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Add Norwegian Cruise Line to the list of big cruise operators cancelling sailings into the fall.

The Miami-based line and its two sister brands, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, on Tuesday cancelled nearly all voyages through early October.

Until now, the three lines only had cancelled sailings through the end of July.

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The new cancellations include every sailing of every ship operated by the three brands scheduled to depart between 1 August and 30 September, except for a few September sailings out of Seattle.

All three brands also have cancelled one or more sailings in early October.

Norwegian, Regent and Oceania are part of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the third biggest cruise company in the world after Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises. Together, the three Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings brands operate 28 ships.

Norwegian’s announcement comes just a week after Carnival Corporation-owned Cunard Line canceled all sailings into November and sister brand Holland America cancelled a significant number of September and October sailings. Carnival Corporation-owned Princess Cruises and Seabourn also recently cancelled most sailings into the fall.

Royal Caribbean Cruises-controlled Silversea last week also cancelled a wide swath of cruises into the fall. The line on Wednesday said three of its seven vessels — Silver Explorer, Silver Cloud and Silver Wind — wouldn’t resume operations until at least the second half of October or November. A return to service for Silversea’s four other vessels — Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper, Silver Muse and Silver Spirit — has been pushed back to September.

Two more Silversea vessels scheduled to debut this year — Silver Origin and Silver Moon — are now scheduled to debut on 22 August and 2 October, respectively.

Disney Cruise Line last week also cancelled some sailings into early October.

The cancellations come even as a handful of river cruise lines and small-ship cruise specialists move ahead with plans to resume operations. Earlier this month, a single German river cruise ship began sailing again in Germany, and several more river lines in Europe plan to resume a small number of cruises in the coming days. A few small ocean ships that plan to sail along the coasts of Norway and France also are restarting operations.

For now, the sailings that are resuming only are available to Europeans who live near the waters where the vessels will operate.

Also planning a startup soon is North American small-ship cruise specialist American Cruise Lines. It hopes to resume river sailings in the Pacific Northwest in the coming days with a single ship, the 90-cabin American Song.

Norwegian Epic at PortMiami (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)
Norwegian Epic at PortMiami (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

There is a growing consensus in the cruise industry that river ships and small vessels that sail coastal routings will be able to resume semiregular operations this year far earlier than bigger ships that offer long-distance ocean trips.

In part, this is because small vessels offer a sort of small-group travel that is easier to manage in an era of social distancing than the mass tourism of big ships. The typical river ship in Europe, for instance, has fewer than 100 cabins. It essentially operates as a small boutique hotel — albeit one that happens to move from town to town. Touring always is in small groups or on an individual basis. Onboard spaces rarely are crowded.

River cruise ships and small coastal vessels also often sail within the borders of a single country. That’s less complex from a logistical point of view than operating the sort of multi-country itineraries typical of big-ship lines. Small ships operating single country itineraries don’t have to worry about another country turning them away at a whim.

In the U.S., small vessels such as American Song are exempt from a 100-day “no-sail” order for cruise ships sailing in U.S. waters issued in April by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The order only applies to cruise ships that carry more than 250 passengers and crew.

Norwegian Cruise Line and its two sister brands are offering passengers on the newly cancelled sailings the choice of a full refund or a future cruise credit for 125% of the amount they paid. Customers have a limited time to request the refund.

Feature image courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line.

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