(7:50 p.m. EDT) – The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has announced its member lines would voluntarily and temporarily suspend operations from the United States as a result of the ongoing public health crisis surrounding the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The temporary suspension -- which lasts until approximately April 12, 2020 -- begins at 12:00 a.m. on March 14, 2020. All ships currently sailing will return their passengers safely to port. CLIA advises passengers booked on future voyages to contact their travel agents or individual cruise lines for rebooking.
At the moment, only sailings departing from the United States are affected, however, many lines have already voluntarily suspended sailings for the time being.
CLIA member lines include AIDA, American Cruise Lines, Azamara, Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Celestyal Cruises, Costa Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Mystic Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Pearl Seas Cruises, Ponant, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean International, Scenic, Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club, Silversea Cruises, TUI Cruises, Virgin Voyages, and Windstar Cruises.
Viking Cruises is not a member, but was the first line to temporarily halt all its sailings.
"CLIA cruise line members are voluntarily and temporarily suspending operations from the U.S. as we work to address this public health crisis," said Kelly Craighead, President and CEO, CLIA.
"This is an unprecedented situation. Our industry has taken responsibility for protecting public health for more than 50 years, working under the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and prides itself on its ability to deliver exceptional vacation experiences for guests, as well as meaningful employment opportunities for crew. This has been a challenging time, but we hope that this decision will enable us to focus on the future and a return to normal as soon as possible."
"We do not take this decision lightly, and we want the traveling public to know in no uncertain terms the commitment of this industry to putting people first," added Adam Goldstein, CLIA Global Chairman. "During this time, we will continue to work with the CDC and others to prepare for resumption of sailings when it is appropriate.
"We know the travel industry is a huge economic engine for the United States and when our ships once again sail, our industry will be a significant contributor to fueling the economic recovery."
CLIA notes the cruise industry employs more than 421,000 American workers, with every 30 cruisers supporting one U.S. job, and contributes nearly $53-billion to the U.S. economy. More broadly, the cruise industry supports a wide variety of businesses across the United States, including travel agencies, airlines, hotels and various supply and provisioning chains.
In addition, when asked about financial assistance for the cruise industry should it become necessary at a press conference convened to address the coronavirus situation, President Trump confirmed it would be something he would look at.
This story will be updated as new information becomes available.