WASHINGTON — After canceling and suspending most cruises throughout 2020, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings on Tuesday expanded its suspension of voyages through May 31, 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The suspension, which was extended to April last month, includes all voyages on Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas. The company said it will continue to work through its return to service plan to meet the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's framework.
In a statement, Norwegian said it "will continue to work in tandem with global government and public health authorities and its Healthy Sail Panel expert advisors to take all necessary measures to protect its guests, crew and the communities visited."
Any guests who are currently booked on a canceled voyage on the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises or Regent Seven Seas Cruises are asked to contact their travel advisor or the cruise line for more information.
In January, Norwegian competitor Carnival Cruise Line extended its cancellations of departures from the United States through the end of April, also citing the ongoing health challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Royal Caribbean also said it would be suspending cruises through the end of April. Disney Cruise Line has suspended all trips through April and select sailings in May.
The cruise line industry has been essentially shut down since mid-March 2020 when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ordered cruise ships to stop sailing to U.S. ports after several outbreaks convinced officials that the vessels were potential cauldrons of infection. After being renewed several times, the most recent order expired in October 2020, with new guidelines effectively bringing the no-sail order to an end.
The CDC's new cruising guidelines say that in order to resume carrying passengers, the companies have to demonstrate they have procedures for testing, quarantining and isolating passengers and crew. They will have to build test labs on all ships and make their own arrangements to isolate or quarantine passengers on shore, if needed. Before being allowed to sail, they will have to conduct mock voyages with volunteers playing passengers who get sick, the CDC said.