In a move that can hardly qualify as a surprise, Royal Caribbean Group (NYSE:RCL) is suspending the remainder of its cruises for 2020, save for a handful of sailings from Singapore.
The announcement follows the release of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest mandate, the “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order,” which was published on Monday. The order permits cruise ships to sail in this country’s waters starting this week, but with a very large caveat — these are only allowed as simulation sailings without paying passengers. Essentially, they are coronavirus-era training exercises for crew.
Subsequent to the order, Royal Caribbean’s rivals and peers, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Carnival, announced similar suspensions. Like Royal Caribbean, both Norwegian and Carnival operate several different cruise line brands, and in normal times do a brisk business in U.S. sailings.
Royal Caribbean’s halting of the vast majority of its cruises was not as drastic a step as it might appear at first glance. The company’s Celebrity Cruises line had already suspended all of its 2020/2021 winter season sailings in Australia and Asia, while Azamara had done the same for Australia, New Zealand, South America, and South Africa.
In its brief press release announcing its latest move, Royal Caribbean said it would contact its guests and travel partners “to share further details and address any questions or concerns they may have.”
Leisure sailing is one of the industries that has been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. Countries are trying to mitigate the spread of the outbreak by limiting certain forms of travel, and cruise ships typically have a great many passengers who can interact frequently.