On Jan. 25, 2020, the cruise industry saw the start of the events that left the industry with damages it’s still recovering from. Cruise lines started cancelling their sailings due to the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan and around China.
Citing urgent guidelines from the Chinese government to combat the spread of the coronavirus, Costa Crociere, MSC, Royal Caribbean and Genting Cruise Lines all suspended their cruise operations in mainland China on Jan. 25, 2020.
Ships marking a year without passengers:
- Astro Ocean’s Piano Land.
- MSC’s Splendida.
- Genting’s SuperStar Gemini.
- Costa’s Serena, Atlantica and Venezia, plus the neoRomantica which has since been sold to Celestyal.
- Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas.
February continued as cruise lines first banned or put in restrictions for passengers from specific countries.
Then countries in Asia started to shut down to tourism and cruise lines issued non-stop itinerary changes for immediate and future sailings, and slowly relaxed booking and refund policies.
Even more cruises were cancelled in Asia on Feb. 15, 2020, following the outbreak onboard the Diamond Princess in Japan,
Princess Cruises later reacted to the growing spread of the coronavirus in Asia and worldwide by pausing all of its ship operations for 60 days from March 12, 2020. On the same day, Celestyal Cruises also announced it was suspending operations.
AmaWaterways and Avalon Waterways (as well as its sister brands Globus, Cosmos and Monograms) said they were taking a voluntary pause in operations, too.
On March 13, 2020, the Canadian government announced it would be deterring the start of its cruise season (normally in April) to at least July. The ban was then extended twice, the last time until February 2021, which will make Canada cruiseless for nearly a whole year.
Also on March 13, 2020, Windstar Cruises stated it would be suspending its sailings through April 30, 2020.
On March 14, 2020, CDC issued a No Sail Order and Suspension of Further Embarkation for cruise ships in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction; the No Sail Order was extended on April 9, 2020, July 16, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2020, as cruise lines continued announcing more and more cancelled cruises affected by the order.
July 2020 saw the start of the long-awaited cruise resumptions in Europe with TUI Cruises starting on July 24, MSC on Aug. 16 onboard the Grandiosa and on Oct. 20 onboard the Magnifica, Costa Crociere on Sept. 6, and AIDA Cruises on Oct. 17. Mystic Cruises restarted sailing in early September under its Nicko brand. And in Asia, Dream Cruises’ World Dream has been operating short cruises to nowhere since Nov. 6.
Sadly, the pandemic claimed the lives of the following brands: Pullmantur Cruceros, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, FTI, Blount Small Ship Adventures, and Jalesh Cruises, while a record high 13 ships were reduced to scrapping in 2020.
However, new brands – such as Swan Hellenic and Tradewind Voyages – were born in 2020, too.
And while safe returns demonstrated by TUI, MSC and other cruise lines give hope already, cruise lovers around the world are still patiently waiting for other brands to join. And, with the No Sail Order being replaced with the Conditional Framework in late 2020, it looks like these times may be just around the corner.