As the cruise industry shutdown continues to have a global impact, it’s sometimes hard to remember exactly how we got to where we are today.
It’s safe to say that nobody could have foreseen how serious the current health crisis would become, let alone how it would impact every aspect of our lives.
But they say that those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. So in an effort to make sure we never forget the cruise industry shutdown, we are providing a detailed timeline of the events that unfolded in 2020 and 2021.
Want to look at a particular period in the timeline? Simply click on the link corresponding to the month in question.
- First reports of a new virus begin to emerge from China, with reports of 27 infected patients in the city of Wuhan. It would later be speculated that the disease actually may have developed and spread earlier in various parts of the world, but Wuhan is still largely considered to have been Ground Zero due to the number of cases that eventually would develop there.
- A male resident of Washington state who recently returned from China is identified as the first infected patient in the United States.
- Cruise lines begin canceling sailings out of China and halt port calls in that country.
- The World Health Organization declares the novel coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
- The secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, declares a Public Health Emergency. “While this virus poses a serious public health threat, the risk to the American public remains low at this time, and we are working to keep this risk low,” Azar says.
- President Donald Trump declares that non-US citizens who have been to China within the previous 14 days will not be permitted to enter the US. The ban is set to go into effect at 5 pm ET on February 2, 2020.
- Carnival Corporation stock closes at $43.53, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd at $117.08, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings at $58.41.
- An 80-year-old passenger who disembarked Diamond Princess in Hong Kong a week earlier tests positive for the novel coronavirus.
- Holland America Line’s Westerdam departs Hong Kong for a 14-night cruise.
- Diamond Princess is quarantined off the coast of Japan after multiple reports of respiratory illnesses onboard. By February 13, there would be 218 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus onboard. By February 18, the number of confirmed cases would soar to 542.
- Westerdam is not permitted to dock in Japan, its first port call.
- The novel coronavirus is officially named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, with the disease caused by the outbreak named COVID-19: CO (corona) VI (virus) D (disease) and 19 for the year 2019 when it first appeared.
- Westerdam is finally allowed to dock in Cambodia to disembark passengers. This comes after the ship is turned away from Taiwan, the Philippines, Guam and Thailand. There are no confirmed cases on the ship.
- Asymptomatic passengers begin disembarking Diamond Princess. Most US citizens are flown home on charter flights for a 14-day quarantine period at military bases in California and Texas.
- Princess Cruises confirms the last of the Diamond Princess passengers have disembarked, with fewer than 500 crew members still onboard. The remainder are disembarked to charter flights or a local quarantine facility in the coming days. A special team boards the ship to begin disinfection procedures once the last crew member departs.
- Carnival Corporation stock closes at $33.46, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd at $80.41, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings at $37.26.
- Vice President Mike Pence, head of the White House coronavirus task force, announces enhanced pre- and post-cruise screening procedures for cruise passengers and guidelines for quarantining passengers who may have been exposed to the coronavirus.
- Just a day after the Trump administration announces new screening guidelines for cruise passengers, the US State Department issues a warning that US citizens should avoid traveling on cruise ships, advising they present a higher risk of coronavirus infection.
- The US Centers for Disease Control forces Regal Princess to idle off the coast of Florida while two crew members are tested for the virus. The ship finally docks later that evening when negative results are received.
- Ruby Princess disembarks 2,700 passengers in Sydney, including 158 who are ill; 2,700 new passengers board the ship, bound for New Zealand.
- Canadian citizens are advised against cruise ship travel by the country’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam.
- The World Health Organization officially declares a pandemic. Viking Cruises suspends both river and ocean cruises through May 1, 2020, becoming the first cruise line to pause operations.
- Princess Cruises announces a 60-day pause in operations, effective immediately.
- Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings draws $1.55 billion from a credit line that is secured, in part, by Norwegian Epic.
- President Trump declares a national emergency.
- All remaining major cruise lines announce a “voluntary” pause in operations for at least 30 days, at the request of President Trump and in conjunction with the Cruise Lines International Association. Most lines indicate they expect to resume cruising in mid-April.
- Carnival borrows $3 billion from its credit lines “in order to increase its cash position and preserve financial flexibility in light of current uncertainty in the global markets resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak.”
- Canada closes its ports to cruise ships carrying more than 500 passengers through at least July 1, 2020.
- The Cruise Line International Association’s “voluntary” pause in cruise operations begins just before the CDC issues a 30-day “no-sail order” for ships carrying 250 passengers or more traveling to or from the US.
- At least 15 passengers aboard Ruby Princess are reported to have developed flu-like symptoms. All passengers are asked to fill out a questionnaire as to their own symptoms but are not told that there are suspected cases onboard.
- Holland America Line’s Zaandam is denied permission to dock in Ushuaia, Argentina after the country closes its ports to cruise passengers. The ship attempts to return to its previous port, Punta Arenas, Chile, but is prohibited from docking there as well. This begins a week-long odyssey for the ship and her passengers.
- Norwegian Cruise Line announces that salaried workers will face a 20 percent pay cut and a four-day workweek, effective March 30.
- Norwegian stock hits 52-week low of $7.03 per share. Royal Caribbean stock hits a 52-week low of $19.25.
- Ruby Princess arrives back in Sydney and is allowed to disembark all 2,700 passengers, despite at least 100 reporting flu-like symptoms, All passengers are told to self-isolate for 14 days, but many board flights home. One passenger is so ill that they are taken directly to a hospital, while two others report to a hospital for testing after feeling ill. One crew member is quarantined on board the ship.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control releases a report that servers onboard Diamond Princess caused the spread of the virus to other guests.
- It is revealed that four passengers from Ruby Princess’ most recent sailing have tested positive for the virus.
- After it becomes clear that Zaandam will not be able to dock and disembark passengers in South America, the ship sets sail for Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, the scheduled final destination at the end of its sailing. That night, passengers hear coughing in the theater and observe crew members wearing masks for the first time while cleaning a cabin.
- Australian health authorities admit it was a mistake to allow Ruby Princess passengers to disembark without testing or other protocols to make sure none were positive with COVID-19.
- Zaandam passengers are confined to their cabins as the Captain reports that 13 passengers and 29 crew members are experiencing flu-like symptoms. There are no testing kits onboard, so it is impossible to determine if any of the individuals are infected.
- Holland America Line’s Rotterdam sails to meet the Zaandam off the coast of Panama with additional crew, medical supplies and, most importantly, COVID-19 tests. At least 30 passengers and 40 crew members are now ill.
- Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. borrows $2.2 billion to help withstand the industry shutdown.
- Holland America indicates its intent to transfer about 800 passengers who are not reporting symptoms from Zaandam to Rotterdam when the two ships rendezvous. The Rotterdam crew is concerned that there are not enough tests to confirm if these transferred passengers are negative, and fear they may be put in harm’s way by the transfer.
- 133 former Ruby Princess passengers are confirmed positive for and one passenger, a 70-year-old woman, dies in a Sydney hospital.
- Holland America announces that four Zaandam passengers have died, two others have tested positive and 138 passengers onboard are ill. The two confirmed cases prevent the ship from crossing through the Panama Canal, leaving the plan to sail to Port Everglades in limbo. Passengers without symptoms begin to transfer to Rotterdam.
- Australia issues a ban on cruise ships carrying 100 passengers or more through June 17, 2020.
- After Panama reverses its decision to block the ships, both Zaandam and Rotterdam transit the Panama Canal overnight.
- Zaandam’s request to airlift two critically ill passengers to Mexico is denied.
- As the two Holland America Line ships near Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis is hesitant to allow the vessels to dock at Port Everglades. The plan to disembark sick passengers in an already ailing community doesn’t “sound good,” he says.
- Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford writes an op-ed in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel pleading with Florida to allow the ships to dock.
- As the count of confirmed positive cases on Zaandam and Rotterdam increases to nine and the number of crew and passengers with flu-like symptoms reaches 233, the Broward County Commission debates for five hours about whether the ships should be allowed to dock at Port Everglades.
- President Trump tells Governor DeSantis he’d like to see a solution, and DeSantis relents, allowing both ships to dock at Port Everglades.
- Carnival Corporation stock closes at $13.17, down from its 2020 peak of $51.90 on January 17, 2020; Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd closes at $32.17 down from the peak $135.05 in January and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings closes at $10.96, down from the $59.65 peak in January.
- Royal Caribbean lays off 26 percent of its 5,000-strong US workforce and executives agree to take a 25 percent pay cut through September, while Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, forgoes his base salary during this period.
- After a full day of negotiations between Carnival Corporation and Port Everglades representatives, a nine-page agreement spelling out how to safely disembark the passengers and transfer them home or to medical facilities is signed, allowing the Zaandam to dock around 6 pm, with Rotterdam following 30 minutes later. Four dead bodies are removed from the ship and 14 critically ill patients transferred to the hospital by ambulance. The remaining passengers disembark over the next few days.
- Carnival Corporation & PLC obtain $6 billion in secured financing. Carnival stock bottoms at a 52-week low of $7.80 per share.
- Australia opens a criminal investigation into Ruby Princess and why 2,700 passengers were allowed to disembark in Sydney.
- It is revealed that Saudi Arabia’s “Sovereign Wealth Fund” purchased 43.5 million shares in Carnival Corporation & PLC.
- Australian authorities conduct an overnight raid on Ruby Princess, seizing the ship’s “black box” data recorder and other records as part of the criminal inquiry.
- The CDC extends the no-sail order for 100 days, ensuring no cruise activity in the US until at least July 24, 2020.
- Royal Caribbean files a patent for EMUSTER, a technology that’s presumed to facilitate electronic muster drills.
- Carnival Corporation stock closes at $15.90, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd at $46.77, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings at $16.40.
- Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings obtains $6 billion in additional financing, saying it can operate for at least a year, even if ships do not return to service.
- Carnival Corporation & PLC announces layoffs or furloughs for over 3,000 shoreside employees from the Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Holland America Line brands.
- MSC Cruises furloughs 128 employees in the US.
- Australia’s cruise ship ban is extended through September 17, 2020.
- Canada’s ban on large cruise ships is extended through October 31, 2020, and expanded to include smaller ships that carry more than 100 passengers.
- Carnival Corporation stock closes at $15.74, Royal Caribbean Cruises at $51.87, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings at $16.07.
- The Hurtigruten ship MS Finnmarken resumes coastal voyage itineraries in Norway.
- CLIA member cruise lines suspend US sailings through September 15, 2020.
- Luxury line SeaDream Yacht Club resumes cruises in Norway.
- Pullmantur, a Spanish cruise line 49 percent owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. files for bankruptcy.
- The first ship to be sold for scrap due to the pandemic fallout, Costa Victoria, arrives at the scrapyard in Piombino, Italy.
- More than 1,000 Zaandam passengers file a class-action lawsuit against Carnival Corporation & PLC, demanding significant changes to the way their ships operate in addition to monetary damages. The lawsuit is just one of dozens filed against major cruise operators related to the pandemic and its aftermath.
- Hurtigruten resumes expedition ocean cruising aboard their new ship Fridjtof Nansen.
- Carnival Corporation stock closes at $15.74, Royal Caribbean Cruises at $50.30, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings at $16.43.
Scrapped ships in our ‘Last Look’ series:
- Carnival Fantasy
- Carnival Inspiration
- Carnival Imagination
- Sovereign of the Seas
- Monarch of the Seas
- Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. team up to create the Healthy Sail Panel, bringing together doctors, scientists, government officials and cruise industry representatives to develop recommendations on how the industry can restart.
- Carnival Corporation & PLC CEO Arnold Donald says the company will be selling at least 13 ships across its portfolio of cruise lines.
- Additional Hurtigruten ships, including Roald Amundsen, resume service, offering both expedition and coastal voyages.
- Holland America Line sells four cruise ships — Amsterdam, Maasdam, Rotterdam and Veendam — to other cruise lines. Maasdam and Veendam are acquired by Seajets, a Greek ferry operator, while Amsterdam and Rotterdam are sold to British line Fred.Olsen Cruises.
- The CDC extends the no-sail order for cruise ships through September 30, 2020.
- AmaWaterways becomes the first major river cruise line to return to service with charter sailings aboard AmaKristina.
- Costa Cruises announces it will sell Costa neoRomantica to European line Celestyal Cruises.
- Carnival Cruise Line confirms media reports that Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Inspiration will be scrapped in Turkey.
- Former Royal Caribbean and Pullmantur ships Sovereign of the Seas and Monarch of the Seas are beached at the breaker yard in Aliaga, Turkey to be scrapped.
- Royal Caribbean announces Muster 2.0, a virtual, individualized muster education process, using the EMUSTER technology patented in April— eliminating the traditional group muster drills.
- Dream Cruises’ Explorer Dream sails from Taiwan, making it the first cruise to depart Asia since the global industry shut down.
- The CDC opens a 60-day public comment period, inviting both the general public as well as cruise and health experts to weigh in on how and if cruising can return safely.
- Within two weeks of returning to service, Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen reports 4 crew members have tested positive and have been removed from the ship.
- Carnival Corporation stock closes at $13.88, Royal Caribbean Cruises at $48.71, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings at $16.34.
- An additional 32 Roald Amundsen crew members are diagnosed with COVID-19.
- UnCruise Adventures, a small-ship expedition cruise line, surprises the industry by launching what is scheduled to be a series of five Alaska sailings aboard the US-flagged Wilderness Adventurer, bypassing the need to stop at a Canadian port.
- Hurtigruten suspends all cruises on Roald Amundsen, Fridtjof Nansen, and one other ship amid the outbreak on Roald Amundsen.
- CLIA members and other major cruise lines extend the suspension of service through October 31, 2020.
- MSC Cruises releases protocol for European sailings, including mask requirements and prohibiting passengers from going ashore except on ship-sponsored excursions.
- The 2020 Alaska cruise season comes to a quick end after a Wilderness Adventurer passenger receives a positive test. UnCruise cancels the rest of the current sailing as well the four remaining voyages. The passenger later receives a negative test result.
- Australian officials release their final report on the Ruby Princess incident. Although the ships is tied to over 850 confirmed cases and at least 28 deaths, Princess Cruises is cleared of wrongdoing.
- MSC Cruises’ MSC Grandiosa returns to service with a multi-port Italy itinerary open only to Italian passengers. The ship sails at reduced capacity with new protocols in place.
- Just two days into MSC Grandiosa’s first cruise, a family is refused permission to reboard after leaving the escorted ship excursion in Naples. The line says the family broke the “social bubble” designed to reduce passenger interactions with locals in port.
- Carnival Corporation stock closes at $16.48, Royal Caribbean Cruises at $68.84, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings at $17.11.
- The Australian Health Minister extends his nation’s cruise ship ban through December 17, 2020.
- Costa Deliziosa returns to service in Italy, the first Costa Cruises ship to resume sailing.
- Carnival Cruise Line confirms Carnival Fascination and Carnival Imagination have been sold. Imagination is bound for the scrappers in Turkey, and no buyer has been announced for Fascination.
- Florida senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio introduce the Set Sail Safely Act, designed to create a task force and advisory committee with the goal of assisting the cruise industry’s return to service, bypassing the CDC. The proposal begins working its way through the Senate.
- Princess Cruises’ Sun Princess and Sea Princess are sold. It is reported that Sun Princess will be going to Japan’s Peace Boat; no buyer is announced for Sea Princess.
- As the CDC’s public comment period closes, over 12,000 individual responses have been received. Among the submissions is the 69-page report from Royal Caribbean Group’s and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ Healthy Sail Panel.
- The CDC extends the no-sail order for an additional month, setting it to expire October 31, 2020. Media reports suggest the CDC wanted to extend the order into 2021, but the White House intervened and pushed for a shorter extension.
- Carnival Corporation stock closes at $15.18, Royal Caribbean Group at $64.73, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings at $17.11.
- Carnival Cruise Line cancels all sailings through December 2020, with the exception of ships scheduled to depart from Miami and Port Canaveral, which the line continues to hope might sail before the end of the year.
- US Representative Jennifer González Colón of Puerto Rico introduces companion legislation to Rubio and Scott’s Set Sail Safely Act in the House of Representatives.
- Norwegian Cruise Line cancels all sailings through the end of November 2020.
- CLIA announces that its member lines will require 100 percent testing of passengers and crew before every sailing when cruises resume.
- Royal Caribbean announces it will resume cruises from Singapore in December 2020 aboard Quantum of the Seas.
- Cruise industry executives and government health officials meet with Vice President Pence to discuss the restart of cruise service in the US. Pence indicates that President Trump’s administration shares the industry’s goal of restarting service as soon as it is safe to do so, saying he will bring the Healthy Sail Panel’s recommendations to the Coronavirus Task Force.
- Carnival Cruise Line cancels Miami and Port Canaveral departures through November 2020, but continue to hope six ships might sail from the two ports in December of 2020.
- MSC Magnifica becomes the second MSC Cruises ship to resume cruising in Europe, sailing a 10-night cruise from Genoa, with port calls in Italy, Malta and Greece.
- US Representative for Alaska, Don Young, proposes rule changes that would permit cruises to Alaska in 2021, even if Canada’s ports remained closed to cruise traffic. Under the 100-year old maritime law, foreign-flag ships must stop at a foreign port to legally call in Alaska.
- Royal Caribbean Group releases third-quarter earnings and posts a $1.2 billion loss. CEO Richard Fain highlights the progress made with the CDC and European brand TUI Cruises. The company estimates that it is now burning between $250 million to $290 million per month during the shutdown.
- Canada extends its cruise ship travel ban from October 31 to February 28. This is more of a precaution than anything as there are no Canada/New England sailings in 2020 and the Alaska season runs April through September.
- Respecting Germany’s newly imposed lockdown, Carnival Corporation’s German-brand AIDA Cruises decides to pause sailings through November 30. The one cruise ship that is sailing for the brand will return to Rome on October 31.
- The CDC indicates their No Sail order will expire October 31 and not be renewed. Instead, the agency releases a 40-page plan outlining the necessary steps for cruise lines to be issued a COVID-19 Conditional Sailing Certificate for each ship. Due to the complexity of the requirements, it was unclear if cruises would be able to resume in 2020.
- It is reported that Carnival Fascination has been sold to an undisclosed buyer in Asia for use as an “accommodation ship,” and the vessel is enroute to Singapore for a technical stop. The Fascination was one of four Fantasy-class ships sold by Carnival Cruise Line this year, and of the tree, is the only one not being scrapped.
- Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings cancels all North American sailings on Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises through December 31, 2020.
- Royal Caribbean Group cancels all North American sailings through December 31, 2020 for Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara.
- MSC Cruises cancels all North American sailings through December 31, 2020.
- Carnival Cruise Line cancels all cruises through December 31, 2020.
- As COVID-19 cases surge in Europe, MSC Cruises suspends Mediterranean sailings on MSC Magnifica through December 20, 2020 and TUI Cruises suspends Mein Schiff 6 cruises in Greece through November
- Dream Cruises resumes 2- and 3-night cruises to nowhere from Singapore aboard World Dream, promising to take a regular ‘stay-cation’ and turn it into a ‘super sea-cation.’ Stringent health measures and distancing requirements will be in place.
- Costa Cruises cancels sailings on the Costa Deliziosa through December 25, 2020.
- Caribbean cruising returns as SeaDream Yacht Club’s SeaDream I sails on a 7 night cruise from Barcelona. The ship immediately comes under criticism on social media after a cruise journalist posts photos of a mask-less crew at embarkation.
- Cruise line stocks surge with news from Pfizer of a successful COVID-19 vaccine trial. Carnival Corporation was up 39.29 percent, Royal Caribbean Group up 28.61 percent and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings up 26.83 percent.
- Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings reports a third quarter loss of $677 million and advises that booking volumes “remain below historical levels,” but that they are still seeing strong demand for future cruises, particularly when it comes to those set to operate during the second half of 2021.
- Sea Dream Yacht Club cancels the remainder of SeaDream I‘s current Caribbean cruise and the next sailing after 5 passengers onboard test positive for COVID-19. Passengers posted photos to social media of both passengers and crew not wearing masks. Because the ship sailed from Barbados, the ship was not required to adhere to CDC guidelines.
- Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy announces that Carnival Breeze and Carnival Horizon, sailing from Port Canaveral and PortMiami, respectively, will likely be the first ships to return to service once cruises resume in 2021.
- Norwegian Cruise Line announces a new docuseries that will give the public a front-row seat as the line returns to service. EMBARK – The Series will debut at http://www.ncl.com/embark on November 19, 2020, with an episode highlighting Broadway-caliber entertainment with a reunion of “Choir of Man” cast members at London’s West End Garrick Theatre.
- Carnival Corporation announces a $1.5 Billion “at the market” equity offering as the cruise company burns through more than $530 Million a month as cruises in most of the world remain paused.
- In the wake of Sea Dream Cruises’ botched restart of Caribbean sailings out of Barbados, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, and Representative Doris Matsui, a Democrat from California, wrote to CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield to encourage him to reinstate the No Sail Order for cruise ships from U.S. ports that were rescinded in late October. The lawmakers have given the CDC until November 27, 2020 to respond.
- Royal Caribbean reports that over 100,000 people have volunteered to participate in test sailings as required under the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order. Royal Caribbean’s trial cruises are expected to be short voyages to the line’s private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay, with the goal of testing out new health and safety protocols.
- Bahamas Paradise Cruises has reportedly sold former Carnival Cruise Line ship Grand Celebration, with the vessel headed to the scrapyard in Alang, India. The cruise line has refused to confirm the sale.
- Magellan, the former Carnival Cruise Line Holiday, which was put up for sale when Cruise & Maritime Voyages entered bankruptcy in July, was purchased at auction for $3 million by Greek ferry operator, SeaJets. Magellan marks the fourth cruise ship the ferry operator has purchased in recent months; it appears if SeaJets owner Marios Iliopoulos is making a play to expand into the cruise industry.
- SeaDream Yacht Club made the decision to cancel the remaining 2020 Caribbean voyages after seven guests and two crew members tested positive on its first Caribbean sailing. The line said it will continue to work on enhanced measures to protect passengers and crew.
- Carnival Cruise Line announces that they are canceling all cruises through January 31, 2021. Additionally, voyages from Baltimore, Charleston, Jacksonville, Long Beach, Mobile, New Orleans, and San Diego are canceled through February 28th, and Carnival Legend sailings out of Tampa are canceled through March 26.
- The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) releases their report on the cruise industry’s impact on the U.S. economy for 2019. Cruising generated $55.5 billion in economic activity in the U.S., a 5.3 percent increase from 2018. And over 13.7 million passengers set sail on a cruise from U.S. ports in 2019, up almost 8 percent from 2018 and up 26 percent from five years ago.
- Princess Cruises cancels all cruises through March 31, 2021, stating that this will allow it to spend preparing to meet rigorous new CDC health and safety requirements. The line also cancels voyages longer than seven days sailing in and out of United States ports through November 1, 2021.
- Holland America Line cancels all cruises through March 31, 2021, and states that it is continuing to work on developing plans to meet the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order requirements. The line also announces the cancellation of a number of longer voyages, including those that are 8+ nights that call at a U.S. port through November 1, 2021.
- The CDC raises the Cruise Ship Travel Warning to Level 4, or Very High, saying “For most travelers, cruise ship travel is voluntary and should be rescheduled for a future date.” It’s unclear what prompted the change in warning levels, as no cruise ships are currently scheduled to return to service from U.S. ports
- Carnival Horizon, one of the first Carnival Cruise Line ships expected to return to service, makes her return to Miami, after boarding her crew compliment in St. Maarten. The crew will begin work to comply with the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order and prepare for her test sailing, yet to be scheduled.
- Disney Cruise Line cancels cruises through January 31, 2021.
- Norwegian Cruise Line extends its’ “Peace of Mind” booking policy for bookings made through December 31, 2020 for sailings through October 31, 2021. The policy allows booked guests to cancel their cruise up to 15-days in advance of embarkation.
- MSC Cruises receives approval to begin sailing from Japan, the first international line to receive the consent from maritime classification society, ClassNK. Bookings for MSC Bellissima’s w cruises from Yokamama in April, May and June 2021 will open in December. Cruises will be limited to local residents.
- Disney Wonder returns to Port Canaveral and becomes the first cruise ship to dock long term at the port since March. The ship will begin work to comply with the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order.
- Quantum of the Seas sails from Singapore, officially becoming the first Royal Caribbean ship to sail in nearly 9 months.
- Celebrity Edge returns to Port Everglades to begin preparations to return to cruising, the first Celebrity Cruises ship to do so.
- Norwegian Cruise Line cancels all sailings in January and February 2021.
- Carnival Horizon fails to achieve an “all clear” from the CDC related to plans for crew repatriation under the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order process, potentially delaying the ship’s return to service.
- Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises cancel all cruises through February 28, 2021.
- Carnival Cruise Line cancels all cruises through February 28, 2021 and postpones the first sailing of the Gras until April 24, 2021.
- MSC Cruises cancels all cruises from the US through February 28, 2021.
- After the Italian government announced severe restrictions on citizen movement in late December and early January, MSC Cruises pauses MSC Grandiosa sailings in the Mediterranean from December 20, 2020 through January 9, 2021 and delays MSC Magnifica‘s return to service from December 18, 2020 to January 15, 2021.
- Disney Cruise Line cancels all cruises through February 28, 2021.
- Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announces it will install a “virus neutralizing” air purification system across the 28 ships of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. AtmosAir Solutions calls its patented air filtration system technology an “all-natural solution with no harmful chemicals, radiation or by-products.”
- An 83-year old passenger aboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, on a 4 day cruise to nowhere out of Singapore, tests positive for COVID-19, resulting in the ship’s immediate return to port. All passengers were confined to their staterooms while contract tracing was completed onboard to determine who the passenger had close interactions with.
- An investigative report by the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reveals that cruisers are increasingly turning to the Florida Attorney General and Better Business Bureau to obtain refunds for cancelled cruises, especially from Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises.
- Multiple shoreside COVID-19 tests for the Quantum of the Seas passenger return a negative result. Passengers disembark, the crew is tested and the ship undergoes a thorough cleaning prior to embarking passengers for the next sailing.
- Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio tells travel agents the cruise line exploring the legality of requiring a COVID-19 vaccine for all future passengers.
- Virgin Voyages pushes the inaugural cruise for Scarlet Lady from January 3 to May 9, 2021 and delays the debut of Valiant Lady from May to November 14, 2021.
- Royal Caribbean announces Empress of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas have been sold and will leave the fleet later this month. The ships were sold to an undisclosed buyer in the Asia-Pacific region.
- Royal Caribbean Group announces the second phase of its RCL Cares program, offering up to $40 million in interest-free loans to travel agents aimed to help them keep their business afloat. Loans are capped at $250,000 each and must be paid back within three years.
- Norwegian Cruise Line cancels the remaining March 2021 sailings on Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Escape, and Norwegian Joy, meaning Norwegian will not return to cruising before April 1, 2021.
- Carnival Cruise Line cancels all sailings through March 31, 2021.
- Princess Cruises cancels all voyages through May 14, 2021.
- Holland America Line cancels all cruises through April 30, 2021. Additionally. some Alaska sailings are cancelled as far ahead as early June; Mediterranean sailings through early June, and Canada/New England cruises through August.
- The MS Marco Polo. a legendary ship that launched in 1965, is heading for the scrapyard in India. Most recently sailing for Cruise & Maritime Voyages, which dissolved in 2020 in the midst of the cruise industry shutdown, the ship once cruised for Norwegian Cruise Line-owned Orient Lines.
- Carnival Corporation announced a $2.2 Billion loss for the fourth quarter of 2020 as most of its cruise ships remain idle and amid continued uncertainty as to when operations can resume.
- Grand Cayman announces that it does not expect to welcome cruise ships back to the island before 2022. “Cruise is not on our radar at all at this stage,” Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin said. “We would have to be satisfied that the world was in a very different place in terms of safety-related to COVID-19 before we would even consider having the cruise ships come here.
- Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises cancel all sailings through April 2021.
- Royal Caribbean Group announces that it’s Azamara cruise brand will be sold to private-equity firm Sycamore Partners in a $201 million cash transaction. The firm will acquire the three-ship fleet and all associated intellectual property.
- UK-based Saga Cruises becomes the first cruise line to require a COVID-19 vaccine for all passengers once cruising resumes. Saga says passengers must have received both vaccine doses at least 14 days prior to boarding their ship. “The majority of our guests fall into the at-risk age bracket and our priority is their safety and well-being,” the line said in a statement.
- Princess Cruises announces they have sold the Pacific Princess to an undisclosed buyer. It’s the fourth Princess ship to be sold since the cruise industry shutdown in March 2020.
This timeline will be updated as events unfold.
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