Royal Caribbean Group, which includes Azamara, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Silversea, announced on Monday afternoon that it would be extending its voluntary suspension of cruising through Dec. 31, 2020.
The news, which includes all of the group’s sailings except those from Singapore, shuts the door on a return to sailing for any Royal brand before the end of 2020. It also follows Norwegian Cruise Line Holding’s similar announcement from earlier on Monday morning.
“Our primary goal continues to be a healthy return to service for our guests, crew, and communities we visit. As we work with the CDC and others toward this share goal, Royal Caribbean Group will be extending the suspension of sailings to include those departing on or before December 31, 2020,” Royal wrote in its announcement.
“We will be reaching out to our guests and travel partners to share further details and address any questions or concerns they may have,” the announcement said.
The cancellations come on the heels of the CDC’s announcement on Friday that it would allow its “No-sail” order to expire at the end of October. The CDC framework, which can be found in full here, states that cruise lines can now pursue “a phased resumption of cruise ship passenger operations” with “a careful approach.”
While the news on Friday was a positive step towards cruising’s return to some kind of normalcy, the CDC’s requirements is still forcing lines to make a number of changes before they return to sailing. That includes testing and additional safeguards for crew members, along with the installation of onboard facilities in place to test future passengers.
The CDC is also requiring all lines go ahead with simulate voyages “to test cruise ship operator’s ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk.” All ships will have to meet specific requirements for recertification and then, and only then, can cruise ships start a phased return to service.
Royal, for its part, said during its third-quarter conference call last week that when it does start sailing again, it will do so in a slow, phased-in approach. The expectation is still that Royal will look to start sailing with just a couple of ships on shorter itineraries from U.S.-drive ports with limited shore excursions available for guests.