Disney cancels June cruises following new guidelines from CDC

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Norwegian Cruise Line cancels more voyages amid COVID-19; what is status of other cruise lines?

Norwegian plans to sail again in Europe and the Caribbean in late July

Disney Cruise Line announced Tuesday that it will suspend its planned voyages in June to give the company more time to meet newly issued federal coronavirus safety guidelines that could potentially allow ships to resume sailing from U.S. ports again.

The company had planned to resume sailings in late June, with many guests who had already paid their reservations in full.

ExploreTHIS WEEK: Norwegian Cruises asks CDC to allow trips from U.S. in July

Disney also canceled all its European sailings through Sept. 18, according to reports.

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday issued further guidance on its conditional plan to allow cruise ships in U.S. ports but has not set an exact date of when cruises can resume.

The CDC updated guidelines to say that fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. without getting tested for the coronavirus or going into quarantine afterward.

“We are carefully reviewing the recently released guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and working toward resuming operations,” the company said in a statement. “As we continue to refine our protocols for our eventual return to service, we are cancelling all Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Wonder sailings departing through June 2021.”

Guests who have already paid for the June cruises can choose to get a full refund or a 125% cruise credit that can be used on a sailing on or before Sept. 30, 2022, according to reports. Guests who have not paid in full will automatically be refunded what they have paid.

ExplorePREVIOUS COVERAGE: CDC won’t allow cruise companies to return to business in July

Disney CEO Bob Chapek indicated that he was hopeful Disney Cruise Line could begin sailing again in the fall.

All the other major cruise lines that operate in the U.S. ― Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian ― have continued to extend shutdowns month-to-month while the CDC keeps a no-sail order in place within U.S. waters.

Each company had hoped for a return to the seas as soon as this month, but they were forced to delay as the coronavirus pandemic began surging again around the world late last year.

The cruise industry has been pressuring the CDC to lift the conditional sail order and allow operations to resume from U.S. ports beginning in early July, calling the government order outdated and unfair.

The CDC has blocked cruise ships from U.S. ports with a no-sail order since March 2020, after outbreaks on several ships around the world.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to keep ships docked despite the fact that other companies around the world have resumed sailings with extensive health safety measures in place.

Norwegian plans comeback

On Tuesday, Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line announced plans to begin sailing again in Europe and the Caribbean in late July.

“The Cruise Line will restart operations at a reduced capacity with Norwegian Jade, Joy and Gem as the first of its 17-ship fleet to welcome guests back on board,” Norwegian said in a release.

“Over a year after we initially suspended sailings, the time has finally come when we can provide our loyal guests with the news of our great cruise comeback,” Harry Sommer, president and CEO of Norwegian, said in the release.

On Monday, Norwegian said it had sought permission from the CDC to resume trips from U.S. ports on July 4, if it required passengers and crew members to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at least two weeks before a trip. But the CDC has not yet indicated whether it would authorize the move.

In order for cruises to ultimately return to the sea, the CDC is requiring the companies to come up with their own plans to deal with COVID-19 with minimal help from federal, state and local governments.

The plans must be detailed and specific, and will then be subject to review and approval by the CDC and the U.S. Coast Guard.