Last updated on May 22, 2020
On March 11 2020, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), forcing countries to close their borders, close schools and governments to issue safety measures. As a result, the travel industry (including the cruise sector) is being heavily impacted globally. Most recently, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an U.S. no-sail order to extend the suspension of cruise operations until the end of July.
This article will help cruisers understand the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic, check the current status of coronavirus affected cruise ships, have a clear view of how to cancel a planned cruise and reflect on the future of the cruise industry.
- Coronavirus map - outbreak live update
- Coronavirus cruise ships tracker - overview of stranded ships
- Cruise Cancellation, Refund And Rebooking Policies: what cruisers need to know
- Cruise lines health measures against COVID-19
- Homeland Security Travel restrictions & safety travel resources
- What’s next for the cruise industry?
- Cruisewatch input
Coronavirus map - outbreak live update
According to the University of Virginia COVID-19 surveillance dashboard, the number of coronavirus cases has been increasing exponentially since end of January. The coronavirus outbreak reached its peak with over 4.4 mio cases globally on May 14. Click here to view the live status of the global outbreak.
In the United States, the current death toll is of over 95.000 people and around 309.000 recovered. The number of confirmed cases has recently climbed to over 1.6 mio nationwide.Princess Cruises Regal Princess and Diamond Princess cruise ships have been the first cruise ships who where particularly touched by the pandemic. Since then, several other cruise ships have had confirmed cases on board. In April, the Italian cruise ship Costa Atlantica made headlines when it docked for repairs in Japan's Nagasaki: almost 150 crew members tested positive for coronavirus.
Coronavirus cruise ships tracker - overview of stranded ships
At the moment, cruise ships (with or without onboard confirmed cases) are being left stranded at sea or in port as countries have refused them permission to dock. In the United States, ships are not permitted to disembark or take on board crew members or passengers without express consent from the Coast Guard in consultation with government health officials. The Guardian recently claimed that although most of the passengers are off board, there would be still over 100,000 crew members stuck on cruise ships worldwide. After weeks at sea, the cruise ship Greg Mortimer finally allowed most of their crew members to disembark in Uruguay.Using our cruise ship tracker, you can see where cruise ships are located in real time. Try checking out for example the cruise ship location of Zaandam.
Cruise Cancellation, Refund And Rebooking Policies: what cruisers need to know
Cruise lines have been updating their cancellation policies due to the urgent circumstances. Here’s an overview of what you need to know if you planned a cruise and need to cancel it or get a refund.
Major cruise lines cancellation policies
Carnival cancellation policy - Choose Fun with Confidence
The Carnival Corporation, owner of six cruise lines, has issued a global “Cruise With Confidence” policy to be followed by its trade cruise line companies. The cruise company plans to resume operations on August 1. For those cruise customers who booked one of their many cancelled sailings, Carnival offers the following coronavirus refund:
Royal Caribbean cancellation policy - Cruise with Confidence
Royal Caribbean Cruises will resume their operation on August 1st for the majority of their fleet.
Therefore they provide their customers with a 125% "Future Cruise Credit", if their sailing departures on-or-before April 30, 2022.
Norwegian Cruise Lines cancellation policy - Peace of Mind
NCL is again extending suspension through June 30, 2020. Cruise operations with embarkations are expected to relaunch at July 01, 2020.
Depending on the embarkation date, guests of the cancelled cruises will receive 150% to 125% of their cruise price back as "Future Cruise Credit". This can be redeemed until 31 December 2022.
What this means for cruisers
You can still cancel or rebook a 2020/2021 planned cruise
To cancel your cruise, you should first check out your cruise line’s cancellation policy update. There are usually no cancellation fees. Cruise companies also often offer future cruise credit. These can be used on future trips, if customers cancel their trips in a specific time frame before (usually 24 to 48 hours beforehand).
You will be able to book a cruise after the crisis
The the CDC has extended the U.S. no-sail order, we have updated our website and personalized newsletter in that regards and removed all cruises departing before the end of July. You can, however, find cruises with sailing dates after that period of time. Given the situation, cruise fares are expected to drop significantly.
All Cruise lines cancellation policies
Cruise lines health measures against COVID-19
As a response to the virus, all the stakeholders of the cruise industry, cruise lines, travel agents and cruise lovers must now find ways to thrive, while monitoring disease control and prevention.
The CLIA and several cruise lines have taken measures to reassure passengers and crew members. They are urging customers to practice social distancing even with their family members when relevant.
CLIA also released COVID-19 fact sheets as well as a Frequently Asked Questions list to answer cruisers interrogations. Cruise passengers can also fill in a Traveler’s Health Declaration/Questionnaire prior to boarding, as part of the new safety measures.
Homeland Security Travel restrictions & safety travel resources
The CDC are studying the virus worldwide and helping communities respond locally. The White House has issued travel restrictions for Americans and foreigners entering the countries. As a result, entry is suspended for foreigners who have been in China or Hong Kong, and several other countries in the 14 days prior arrival in the United States. The images below are self-explanatory.
What’s next for the cruise industry?
With hundreds of COVID-19 confirmed cases all eyes have been on the cruise line companies such as Carnival Corporation, Norwegian Cruise Line or Royal Caribbean.
“We’ve been asked, and we’ve asked ourselves why COVID-19 seems to be impacting Princess so heavily,” president of Princess Cruises Jan Swartz said. “We don’t really know.”
If the reasons for Princess Cruises infection rate are unknown, the economic impact of the crisis results in Carnival’s stock dropping by nearly 60% while Royal Caribbean and Norwegian lost over 70% of their value in March. Let’s not forget small travel agent businesses, airlines and hotels which are likely to will suffer financial difficulties in the upcoming months.
In 2018, the cruise industry weighed 150 billion dollars and predicted a flow of 32 million passengers expected to cruise in 2020. With the ongoing crisis, nothing is more uncertain, but CLIA vice president remains optimistic.
"While cruising may be momentarily paused, our industry will be back... better than ever before. We will be so much stronger for what we have endured together and how we reacted to it, dealt with it, and what we learned from it." Charles Sylvia, ECC, Vice President, Membership & Trade Relations in a newsletter to CLIA members, March 24, 2020.
There is hope for us to receive a future cruise again, the government hinted it would stand with and financially support the cruise industry, and “expect to be coming back to Congress”.
“We want to work with the cruise line industry to ensure that when we come through this, that cruise lines and the medical services that are available for the passengers and all the crew, that cruise lines are safer than ever before and can prosper for years to come,” Vice President Mike Pence said.
The cruise industry is an essential and robust industry, we saw that during the financial crisis. I am convinced we will recover shortly after the virus. Despite these difficult times, there are arising opportunities for cruise lovers, as cruise lines are offering the best cruise prices ever, combined with very flexible cancellation conditions. Our mission at Cruisewatch is to help cruisers cease them. Our products are being enhanced to adapt the ongoing events, and enable our customers to gain more control and flexibility in their future cruise search.
We have received increasing demand from cruise lovers asking for solutions to the current crisis, and we will keep working on our product to provide the best service. Although the future of cruising is uncertain, we try to offer some sense of positivity and control in your cruise search through our enhanced products.
- Cruise ship tracker: In the current crisis, locating cruise ships is a great asset to view the live status of sailings in port or at sea. This should help you stay up to date with your preferred cruise ships.
- Cruise price prediction: Although predicting cruises price is in our DNA, we don't need data to realize that now is the best time to book. Despite the crisis, prices are dropping and cruise lines are offering excellent cancellation policies and refunds for customers who have already booked, giving everybody a chance to make better cruising decisions in the near future.
- Cruise price alert: This tool will help you follow up on the price of interesting cruises by creating automatic price drop alerts. Although operations have been cancelled until early April, this feature will be a great asset when things get back to normal.
- Cruise vacancy prediction: With the help of data, we are able to predict sailings that are going to be sold out in the next 10 weeks before departure. We are reworking this feature to adapt the current events.
- Cruise booking: You can now book a cruise directly via cruisewatch.com. Combined with the price prediction service and the cruise price alert, we hope to help ease your booking experience.
The future of the cruise industry relies on a joint effort from all industry stakeholders, including us cruise lovers. We all have a part to play to ensure a future, not only in cruising, but because we care for our elders, and loved ones. And the only way is for everyone to stay safe.