Any consumers still out there hoping to go on a cruise will now have to wait until at least after Halloween before they can cast off again.
The order would have lasted until February, but Vice President Mike Pence overruled the CDC’s plans for a much longer extension, Axios reported.
The shorter ban roughly matches what cruise industry executives had been lobbying for. Even so, the continued ban on cruise ships plying their trade in U.S. waters comes as the industry reels from the fallout of the coronavirus crisis.
Airlines and the travel industry as a whole have been hit hard by the pandemic and the restrictions it has spawned, but it has been even worse for the cruise industry, which garnered dramatic headlines last spring with some of the first major outbreaks of COVID-19.
While airlines are still flying – albeit on a limited capacity – the cruise ship industry is effectively shut down in the U.S. and across the world. Shares of the three big publicly-traded cruise ship operators – Royal Caribbean, Carnival Corp and Norwegian Cruise Line – have been severely battered.
And so far, consumers haven’t been hankering for a return to international travel – at least compared to wanting to travel in the U.S. – or to be able to do simple things again, like dining out and shopping, PYMNTS surveys over the summer found.
In its extension of the ban on cruise ship operations, the CDC makes clear why it believes the densely-packed giant ships remain a dangerous breeding ground for COVID-19, noting that conditions are “more crowded than most urban settings.”
Through Sept. 1, there have been “at least 3,689 COVID-19 or COVID-like illness cases on cruise ships in U.S. waters” and 41 deaths, the CDC states, noting that both numbers “are likely incomplete and an underestimate.”