Today, Royal Caribbean announced that it is extending its voluntary suspension of sailings for an additional month, now going until May 11, 2020. The suspension applies to Royal Caribbean and its sister cruise line Celebrity.
The lines hope to return sailing starting May 12, 2020.
The cruise line first suspended U.S. sailings on March 13, before extending the cancellations to its global fleet the next day. Originally the cruise company anticipated its ships to be back in service on April 11, 2020. That’s just over two weeks from now.
Unfortunately, the worldwide health crisis continues to grow. It hardly looks like it will resolve in the next two weeks.
In a statement posted on its website, Royal Caribbean said:
Today, March 24th, we have decided to extend our voluntary suspension until May 11th, 2020. Our goal is to resume operations for most of our ships on May 12th, 2020. Because of announced port closures, there are other itineraries we will be suspending.
• Ships sailing out of Singapore, and ships sailing through Canada have all been impacted differently due to port closures.
◦ Canadian ports will remain closed until July 1st, 2020.
◦ The Port of Singapore will remain closed through May 2020.
As a result of this change, we’re providing you with a 125% Future Cruise Credit to come back and sail with us by December 31st, 2021
The 125% cruise credit for cancelled sailings is in line with what the cruise line has done for other cancellations during this crisis.
Additionally, passengers who don’t want to the cruise credit can opt for a full refund at any time until the end of 2021. All onboard purchases already made will also be refunded. Passengers can opt to get a 125% credit on those purchases if they take advantage by April 8, 2020.
With a new return to sail date of May 12, Royal Caribbean is now looking at cancelled cruises for a total of around 60 days. This puts it in line with the suspensions of Princess Cruises (scheduled to return May 11) and MSC (scheduled to return May 1).
Trips to Canada Also Impacted Beyond May 11
One thing to keep in mind is that many Alaskan cruises from the company are also set to be cancelled. Canada put in place a bar against cruise ships until July 1. United States law says that foreign-flagged cruise ships departing the country must make a stop in a foreign port before returning to the U.S.
Since Canada won’t allow the ships to port, that means trips sailing from Seattle up to Alaska can’t make their journeys legally. There’s a possibility that Canada could change course, however, with the current state of the crisis, that seems unlikely.
Guests on these trips will also receive the 125% cruise credit or a full refund.
More Cruise Lines to Announce Longer Suspensions?
It remains to be seen if other cruise lines like Carnival or Norwegian will follow Royal Caribbean’s lead. However, we’d expect to hear something soon one way or the other.
On Friday, March 13, Royal Caribbean was one of several cruise lines announcing it would suspend cruises for several weeks. By the end of the day, the entire industry said it would suspend U.S. sailings for roughly a month.
It wouldn’t surprise us to see many more lines push their returns until mid-May at the earliest. The impact of this crisis on the cruise industry continues to grow.