(5 a.m. EST) -- Several cruise lines have begun to suspend sales of itineraries longer than seven nights departing from U.S. homeports, due to the new conditions laid out by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
On Tuesday, Carnival Cruise Line became one of the first lines to pull the plug on its voyages over one week in length departing from U.S. homeports. Carnival has not, however, officially cancelled these voyages at this point in time.
And overnight, Holland America Line did the same, stating it was seeking additional clarification to fully understand the requirements under
the framework, and had implemented the stop-sell while it awaited further information.
Princess Cruises has done the same, releasing the following statement:
"While we await further information, we have (temporarily) stopped selling all cruises eight days and longer which call upon a U.S. port and depart January 1 through November 1, 2021."
The CDC's Framework for Conditional Sailing stipulates cruise lines are no longer allowed to sell or market voyages longer than one week in length. That order is valid until November 1, 2021 -- the day the new order is set to expire.
For passengers booked on these sailings, the confusion -- will my voyage sail or not? -- adds another layer of frustration and indecision for a year many thought would be the start of a return to safe cruising operations.
"I am booked on the 10-night Summit out of Bayonne," writes goldsmip115 on the Celebrity Cruises message board. "There were 3 -10 night cruises available in May. Today they are all gone and there are NO Summit cruises available anywhere for May. And, Celebrity says I cannot have access to my online account right now. Does anybody have any idea of what is happening?"
"We are in the same situation," writes Ray in NH on the same thread. "Booked the on the (maybe) 10 night cruise scheduled to leave 15 May. There have been reports that only cruises of 7 days, or less, would initially be allowed.
"Have not heard anything "official" from Celebrity, nor my travel agent."
"People with 8-day cruises are stuck," writes BirdTravels on a thread on the Princess boards. "You know that the cruise line is not just going to cut a day and let the ship sit idle in a dock. So the question becomes do they do tactical changes to their scheduling or just take each ship that runs >7-day cruises, cancel all bookings, and just redo itineraries for cruises less than 7 days."
While these details are still very much in flux, here is what Cruise Critic knows so far about the situation:
My cruise is over seven days in length. What's going to happen to it?
If your cruise is over seven days in length and leaving from, to or transiting through a U.S. port of call, the CDC has required that cruise lines stop selling or marketing these voyages for the period between now and November 1, 2021.
Is every cruise line pausing bookings for voyages over seven days?
No, not yet. Right now, Carnival, Holland America Line, and Princess Cruises have issued statements on their respective websites advising passengers that, for now, bookings on voyages over seven days in length from U.S. ports of call are suspended.
What if my cruise is only eight days in length? Will it go ahead?
Under current CDC guidance, if this cruise is sailing from or to a U.S. homeport between January 1 and November 1, 2021, the CDC is requiring lines to suspend all bookings for these voyages -- even if it is only one day over the threshold.
Is my sailing cancelled? What's happening?
Technically, no. Right now, cruise lines are merely suspending these bookings from future reservations, as the CDC is requiring them to do.
There are numerous aspects of the CDC's recent framework that cruise lines have asked for additional clarity on, and numerous aspects that the CDC, too, has not yet determined.
For now, until officially cancelled by the cruise line, these voyages are still technically active -- just not for new reservations.
So is my European cruise affected, too?
No. The CDC's ruling only affects sailings operating from, to, or calling on a U.S. port of call. European sailings have to follow the European Union's Healthy Gateways framework for the resumption of cruising, which places no such limitations on cruises.
What could be problematic, however, are longer repositioning voyages -- transatlantic or transpacific crossings to or from the United States, or longer Panama Canal transits. Under the CDC's current framework, these types of sailings would be prohibited.
When asked specifically about the status of these voyages last week, the CDC commented that it still has not ironed out the details yet.
"CDC has not yet determined and further information about restricted voyages will be outlined in future technical instructions and orders," a CDC spokesperson told Cruise Critic in an email.
Why didn't I hear about this from the cruise line? What are cruise lines saying?
Cruise lines have generally been making these changes very, very quietly. This order from the CDC represents a huge logistical challenge affecting numerous voyages; it may be that, if you or your travel agent have not heard from your cruise line, they are still attempting to contact affected passengers.
In some cases, notices started being posted online as of Tuesday, November 10.
"Princess Cruises has reviewed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Framework for Conditional Sailing and is seeking additional clarification to fully understand the requirements,"
on the Princess Cruises website.
"While we await further information, we have (temporarily) stopped selling all cruises eight days and longer which call upon a U.S. port and depart January 1 through November 1, 2021. For those who are currently booked on one of these cruises, we ask for your patience to receive further information from Princess on whether your cruise is impacted."
I don't want to sit in limbo with this cruise and would rather transfer to another sailing. Can I do that?
Policies are going to vary from one cruise line to another, but at this point, lines are eager to keep current bookings at that status -- current. A call to your travel agent or the cruise line's reservation team would most likely result in a favorable outcome for those looking to move their sailing to a different date. Note, though, that this will depend heavily on the cruise line's booking policies.
Cruise Critic will update this article with more information as it becomes known.