(10:05 a.m. EDT) -- Cunard has paused its cruising operations well into spring 2021, canceling sailings and moving itineraries from Asia and Australia to the U.K. and Europe. The line has also canceled its 2021 World Cruise.
Queen Elizabeth will resume sailings March 25, 2021; Queen Mary 2 cruises have been canceled through April 18, 2021 and Queen Victoria won't resume service until May 16, 2021.
The Cunard suspensions are the longest imposed by a line owned by Carnival Corporation & plc, which is set to resume cruises September 6 with its Italian line Costa Cruises and its German line AIDA.
It also marks the first time a line has declared that it will be out of service for more than a full year; most cruise lines imposed a voluntary pause on sailings March 13, 2020, because of COVID-19.
Cunard had already suspended sailings through November 2020. The line will contact passengers and their travel agents; affected passengers can fill out a form online for a 100 percent refund or receive a 125 percent future cruise credit.
When the line comes back, the globe-spanning itineraries on some of its ships will be altered. Queen Elizabeth will no longer sail in Australia, Japan or Alaska in 2021; instead, it will focus on shorter European and British holidays, the line said in a statement. The itinerary switches affect bookings made through December 13, 2021.
"Queen Elizabeth has returned to the U.K., and with ongoing uncertainty over the re-opening of many ports and countries, it is sadly not practical to continue her planned itineraries for 2021," Cunard President Simon Palethrope said.
The new cruises will range from three to 14 nights, departing from Southampton. Some of the itineraries, such as scenic voyages around the Cornish and Irish coasts, and Scotland, keep the ship closer to home. Other sailings will include short breaks to Amsterdam, as well longer sailings to Norway and the Iberian coast. They will be available to book September 29, 2020.
Cunard also announced Queen Mary 2, which usually does transatlantic crossings between Southampton and New York City, will sail a World Cruise from January 3, 2022 to April 3, 2022. The line has canceled World Cruise plans on Queen Victoria for 2021.
"Given the current uncertainty, the complexity of our scheduled World Voyage with our international mix of guests visiting many countries and continents, each with its own evolving travel regulations was a very real factor in our decision making," Palethrope said.
The 2022 World Cruise is 104 nights and will include calls in Greece, Dubai, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Australia and Bali; the ship will transit the Suez Canal on both outbound and return. It is bookable, either as a full World Cruise or in segments, beginning September 8, 2020.
Cruise Critic's Cunarders are discussing the changes on the member forums. Join the conversation.